Posts Tagged ‘EMC’

A Case of Component Based Authoring

September 30th, 2015 Comments off

Component Based AuthoringYesterday afternoon I attended an EMC webinar about their Next Generation solutions for Life Science, when a slide passed by about Component Based Authoring. It was a different way of expressing the same subject Jeroen van Rotterdam addressed recently in his EMC Spark blog called ‘Who is using Word?‘ From that blog, comes this quote:

Then there is the trend towards targeted point solutions with very domain-specific capabilities to create these smaller chunks of content. A generic word processor is far from efficient in this scenario, and even harder to customize with the desired user experience. Content creation applications are so much more powerful in a business context and becoming less focused on text.

It’s fun to read about a trend – in this case Component Based Authoring – when you’re already practising this approach. It feels for me as if this is the only way forward in case based solutions being delivered today.

My current project is implementing an EMC xCP based solution to support a decision making process where each decision is backed by carefully build cases.

In its previous implementation, documents were the content containers. A lot of copying and rewriting was taking place. A cumbersome and error prone way of working. We didn’t investigate it, but if I were to place a bet, I would say that it’s almost a guarantee that each document is formatted uniquely and it’s highly likely that not every document contains the mandatory information. The flip-side of the coin is, that this freedom is very well received by the end-user who is using Microsoft Word, a tool perceived as very user friendly and productive (don’t get me started…), to let his creativity flow.
You could argue that the needs of the end-user are prevailing over those of the enterprise. At Informed Consulting we believe that connecting people and the enterprise should be a win-win situation and is key to success.

With the new xCP solution we’re applying Component Based Authoring and Word is now only needed for the supporting documents. Not for the key information of the case. That key information is divided into logical components and authored independently. With this approach we created a balance between both user and enterprise needs. But in order to achieve this, more is needed than just solving the challenge of business process re-engineering. In fact, in this case the process is hardly changed.

Once you know what key information you need to capture, it’s time to let the UX (user experience) designer do her thing. My colleague Sandra did a tremendous job with the key users, to design screens for both capturing and displaying information. There has to be a natural order in the information that fits the way of working in the business. This means defining where on the screen a content component is positioned for a particular role (yes, different roles will typically lead to different positioning…), which content components need just plain text formatting and which need rich text to be able to add lists, mark text bold or even include hyperlinks but on the other hand prevent the usage of fonts other than what the corporate style-guide dictates. It means defining where you need to restrict input to predefined taxonomies (or just simple drop-down boxes populated with values) and where you need supporting wizards. A sample of the latter is one where the user provides answers and numbers after which the system draws a conclusion that is used as input for the decision. To cut a long story short, information with a good user experience will help to make the transition into component based authoring smooth.

Another key aspect is the transition from paper to digital. A topic on its own. In our project we opted for a gradual transition because it’s more than a business process change to replace meetings full of annotated documents, prepared off-line over the weekend, with information accessed digitally through tablets and laptops. As an intermediate, the individually authored content components are aggregated in PDF/A documents. These documents are available for on-line reading as well as printing. It’s now up to the business themselves to execute the behavioural change process. In the mean time they can still print and scribble away where and whenever they want.

The third aspect I want to mention is archiving. Although it should be part of your business process re-engineering, it typically isn’t. Too often archiving is not seen as a business process. But even if it is, it’s a beast of its own. Still today it is common practice to archive ‘just’ documents. With component based authoring, you can no longer think in terms of archiving documents. Neither can you think in terms of archiving these content components on their own. They have relationships with other content components and together they have meaning. A content component that holds the annotation of an approval, only has meaning in its context. Archiving thus needs to evolve into Contextual Archiving whereby containers are archived and these containers include the appropriate content components as well as their relationships. Rethinking needs to be done around the purpose of the archival and the retention policies. How can you meet the archival goals for a case if key information in that case needs to be destroyed before the case itself gets destroyed? And what will regulators say when you include a content component into multiple containers which are managed independently and whereby not all (logical) instances of the content components are destroyed simultaneously? When you think about it, component based authoring reveals what has been hidden under the covers of a Word document for a long time: we didn’t manage the information but only the container that carried that information…

Times are changing in the ECM playing field. New ways of working, progressing technology, distributed collaboration and blurring boundaries pave the way into an interesting future. Next-Gen ECM / Next-Gen Information Management… Welcome into my world!


This post also appeared on LinkedIn.

EMC IIG changes focus to solutions

November 6th, 2012 Comments off

In all keynotes given at Momentum Vienna it is very clear. EMC want to move to solutions and lower their ‘commercial’ focus to the base platform.

A bold move of the Documentum team. The enterprise platform is and was always the strongest in the world and often a game changer in a deal.

At Momentum Vienna 2012, the launch of Document 7 is done, but the focus and the firework where not about Documentum version 7.
It is just a simple statement. Documentum 7 is out. It is better faster and more robust.

But an excellent move it is in my opinion.
The platform will not go away. The investments will keep going, but selling a platform is not the way to go in the new normal.

The reason why I’m a long time Documentum fan is because the platform is what it is. Since its beginning in ’88 the base of the platform has not changed. The relational object model concept is still very much the same only more object types are added.
Me being a techy, I like it, but that is not what sells a product. (and it should not!)

What sells is the added value you will achieve when implementing a solution with it. And that is something where all big ECM vendors are struggling with.
EMC already tried several times to get a solution offering going, but all of them failed badly.

This time the approach is so significant different that I think it will become a success.

So what is the secret?

  1. all solution EMC will create, come out of the professional services group. The base for solutions are custom builds for clients that are migrated to solutions or products.
  2. once a cusomization is identified as a possible solution, a seperate group within professional services takes ownership of the potential solution. Letting consultants build repeatable solution is not a good idea (when it works it works, I have tested it myself).
  3. last but certainly not least, only a small part of the solution that a EMC sales will offer heir clients will be build and maintained by EMC. All others will come from their partner community. More specifically their Consulting Preferred Partner Program (C3P).

Specifically the last bullet will be the game changer. Partners are now able to submit their best practice solutions into an approval process by EMC and an independent reviewer to get their solution certified. And certified does not mean that your name will be shown somewhere on one of the last and hidden pages on the EMC website (as it used to be). No, they will be in the EMC Sales price-book and the sales will be compensated for every sell.

Let the games begin and we at Informed Consulting will accept the challenge to come up with some selling solution on top of Documentum and the SharePoint Documentum connector.

SharePoint Documentum Framework

September 27th, 2011 Comments off

I was as reading through my old posts and saw the one about Documentum Sharepoint integration.
I felt there is something that I need to clear up: SDF is not available for just anyone.

EMC currently offers 3 products that can be used to integrate Documentum with SharePoint:

  1. MyDocumentum for SharePoint
  2. Repository Services for SharePoint
  3. SharePoint Documentum Framework

I mentioned all that in my previous post. There is a difference between the first second and third however. The first two are offered as products that you can just buy and install. The SDF is not officially offered as a separate product. It is a product that you can buy, but it is only sold as part of an implementation deal with EMC Professional Services. EMC will not let the customer, nor a partner do the implementation of SDF, unless they are subcontracting for EMC Professional Services.

For some customers this should be no issue. For others this would mean that using SDF is not really an option. Fortunately there are 2 other integration products to choose from.

Sander Hendriks

ECM Consultant