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#MMTM16: Case management: The good, the bad and the ugly

April 27th, 2016

People who have read my previous blogs know I have a soft spot for xCP and case management according to Documentum. The past months I have wondered why this is.

The first and easy answer is the fact that probably more that 70% of the solutions I personally have implemented for my clients, where some sort of case management implementation. The next question I asked myself was: What do you mean: case management? It was all document management! What makes it different from the other solutions? Thinking more and more about that question made it clearer where my soft spot comes from. IMG_0797_small

People who work with me will confirm: I am a bit more than a little chaotic. To be able to function it is mandatory for me, to have an easy high level overview of all the stuff that is hanging somewhere on my to-do list. Case management is (in my eyes) exactly that functionality. Give every knowledge worker their own dashboard, with what is important for them at that point in time. And what I see in my day to day encounters with end users is that demand, that thirst, for that overview from every knowledge worker.

IMG_0820_smallIt is never about one document only. It is always about a group of information items that have, at this specific point in time, a relation with each other and this relation has a certain current status, that makes it important to show to me (a knowledge worker) right now. I need to be able to drill down to the specific pieces of information and change all pieces at once, separate or in combinations. This has to do with the fact that most (but not all) knowledge workers don’t work on one large document, but on a lot of separate pieces of information that need to be handled quickly. When you are part of the quality authors of a life sciences company or managing all assets of a large power-plant (my other 30% of the solutions I implemented), having a real document centric management system, that has the focus on that specific document and its related documents, is very important and demands an EDMS like D2. All the rest of us need xCP.

In my experience, all other types of document management systems will have way more to do with case management than with real, pure document centric management: Working on pieces of information that have some sort of relation with each other during their existence.

Case management is all about a good dashboard that shows you the right information for the task/action you want to perform.

Hand drawing Content flow chart on transparent wipe board.

With TaskSpace, Documentum took the first leap into the real case management world and showed that it is way better to have a Case Management solution that is built on the foundation of an ECM system than a Case Management system solely based on a relation database. This first go at a case management solution was good, but lacked a good and consistent developing environment and a flexible and very user friendly interface. (Beside some annoying bugs in the core)

And then came xCP2. The idea is so simple, but so great that I really jumped with excitement when I found this. This is really the vision we all were hoping for from EMC-ECD (IIG at that time). This is the good in my story. The product team, who came up with this approach, should be decorated :-). Sure, the 2.0 version was far from perfect, it had too much issues and lacked some functionality to make easy deployment and testing possible, but it was clear that this is the direction that Case Management needs to go.

With the new version coming up, and the change in deployment strategy, ECD is taking the right approach to make this a very stable and easy to implement system.

IMG_0821_smallBut there is still a bad. This has to do with the fundament of information classification and the way Documentum is structured. It is easy to create a great app in xCP Designer and to make the perfect dashboard and underlying supporting pages. It is relative easy to make a workable deployment strategy to deploy new features and solve bugs without too much interference for end users. But once in production with the number of cases growing rapidly, that great dashboard becomes slow, slower, the slowest… At first, you have happy end users, who love the possibilities of designing their interface together, and the flexibility and modern look and feel you can give them. Suddenly, after a couple of months their comments are a bit more cold and distant. In the end, the solution is still good and they are happy, but you feel that the performance of their first and main screen is getting annoying.

So my hope when it comes to xCP and Momentum 2016 is that the new product team of xCP has put a lot of thought and effort in the performance improvement of the historical queries in xCP. Challenge Jeroen van Rotterdam and his baby xPlore (xDB) to make those queries super-fast. A whole xCP solution is as good as the main dashboard!!

Digital TransformationAnd then came the ugly. Don’t be alarmed ECD, this time it is nothing you need to change :-). The ugly is all about the fight between the top 5 big IT companies who like to annoy each other by downgrading the support for the others fundament. It started with Apple who did not like Microsoft Silverlight or Adobe’s Flash. The arrogance to just not support it, shows how big their ego is. But that was only the beginning. Now a lot of browser-companies don’t like Oracle and push to the limits to make the use of Java in your back-end web-application difficult or even impossible (Chrome). And last but not least Microsoft, who is doing so great in trying to be friends with everybody now that Nadella is behind the steering-wheel, still needs to show the strength to the others. JavaScript is the most common used front-end languages to create a dynamic webpage. It is the new standard for web development and the only easy way to fulfil the UX demands of the new user. But why should that be of any concern to Microsoft or Mozilla? Sure it is easy to shout about security issues and all, but in the end it is just budget that makes it not possible to make JavaScript run very fast. To see the difference in performance of an xCP application between IE10 and Firefox and Chrome is frightening. Even the new Microsoft Edge is still lacking compared to the others and we see no improvement in JavaScript speed in the new versions of Firefox. So the ugly is only something we can hope will improve but is for sure a challenge we consultants need to be aware of when implementing the next great Case Management solution in xCP.

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