ECM lands in New Plymouth

New Zealand’s New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) recently implemented a cloud and mobile ECM solution with TechnologyOne, replacing a Hummingbird platform. The local government authority has over 500 staff/users and was increasingly challenged by having to do more with less and at the same time needed to adapt to new technology trends and new ways of working. Managing mobile workers is one of the biggest challenges they have to face, along with increasingly complex legislative requirements. IDM asked ICT Manager, Kevin Glynn about the decision to implement a cloud and mobile based ECM solution.

IDM: When did council decide to implement a new ECM platform?
KG: We started our review of options in November 2013 and made the final decision in March 2014 to go with TechnologyOne ECM, migrating 1.6 million documents across.
The first rollout of a document management system was Hummingbird.  In hindsight our choice was made with unfortunate timing.  In between making the decision to purchase Hummingbird Version 6 and actually implementing it in 2007, OpenText bought them. Pretty rapidly Version 6 became unsupported as the majority of the user base was on Version 5.
This started to cause us a number of problems, so much so that we decided to change our document management system sooner than initially planned. 

IDM: What other enterprise systems do you have deployed?
KG: We are fairly heavily invested in TechnologyOne Solutions. We’ve got their Financials, Property and Rating, Service Request and Asset Management Systems.  We are looking at moving towards their concept of a One Council solution. 
The standard operating environment is Windows and Microsoft Office with Exchange/Outlook, physical desktops, rather than virtual, and at the backend we employ fully virtualised servers, a MetroCluster SAN and Commvault archiving.

IDM: Why did you choose the Technology One ECM solution?
KG: We’re in the process of becoming a digital Council.  This is a true business transformation looking at all of our business processes from end to end and reimagining them in a digital world for how they can be most efficiently done.
Good data quality is obviously fundamentally important to a digital Council as it underpins automation of processes and good quality business reporting and having good access to the right information, at the right time.  All those things are really at the heart of building out a digital Council, so this was a really important decision for us. 
The new TechnologyOne ECM product is actually a complete rewrite of the underlying code set.  They’ve taken what was their client based application into being a completely browser based application so staff will be able to access the on-premise ECM content   anytime, anywhere, on any device.
We were looking for something that would work without a deep level of integration that was used in the Hummingbird implementation as this was one of the sources of the difficulties we had with our first EDRMS implementation. 

IDM: Did you consider SharePoint at all?
KG: SharePoint was an option that we considered, as we’re Microsoft Shop, but it was ultimately rejected. Whilst we were seeking to avoid a deep level of integration to the desktop, we would have been happy with integration between different Microsoft products.  In our initial investigation stage we discovered that SharePoint out of the box would not enable us to be compliant to the records management standards to which we are held accountable. That compliance capability would require some pretty significant plug-ins, which adds that extra layer of complexity we were seeking to avoid. 

IDM: What did you learn from the first ECM rollout?
KG: We learnt a lot by having done an ECM implementation first time round. Hummingbird was a good modern system and enabled us introduce records management compliance.  However the implementation was very compliance focussed, which caused usability issues.  So in reality we ended up with suboptimal records management compliance because when things get too hard for users, they find ways around it. 
For example, we had quite a complex file classification structure based along functions, which was six or seven levels deep in places.  Users basically found it too hard to know where to put their documents.  They had their own way that worked for them and, from a corporate point of view, they just put records in relatively random places, but in places that worked for them.  But of course that causes problems when others are trying to find context relevant documents. 
Users have a good understanding of which emails constitute records but it involved a number of steps, which acted as a barrier to users. Now that it’s drag and drop, we’re getting much better take up. As a failsafe we also use CommVault to store all of our emails, inbound and outbound.
This time round we ensured that our implementation was completely user-centric.  The outcome had to be a really intuitive, easy to use system.  A phrase used to capture the approach was, ‘good records management practice will be a by-product of using the system that helps you do your day to day job.’ 
Because the ECM search is so good, so intuitive, and so easy to use, we’ve gone for more of a big bucket approach in terms of file classification.  We have still use file classifications, but it’s a two level deep file classification.  Importantly you can add as many index tags as you like to documents.  Helping users understand the difference between a paper-based world view and a digital world view is important.  The old file classification replicated paper-based filing in that documents were put in a specific ‘place’.  With the ability to tag multiple indices, documents can be put in multiple ‘places’ from a user perspective, even though there is only one copy of the document stored in the system. This makes documents relevant and searchable in a variety of different contexts.  This is an extremely valuable capability for an organisation as diverse as a local Council.

IDM: Are there any other benefits?
KG: ECM has a feature called Quick Add Profiles.  This is useful when a team gets a lot of correspondence that is all very similar and is processed in a similar way.  It lets you create a template that has got nearly all the metadata already populated.  You then just have to type in the one or two fields that you need to identify that specific document.  That really speeds up the process of putting documents into ECM. There are a range of documents that get created by other parts of our TechOne system.  Now that we’re using ECM, those now automatically create entries into ECM with fully populated metadata fields.  We can also now share secure, links to documents outside of the organisation, making documents available to non-Council staff in a controlled way.

IDM: Have you been able to move everyone off using file share folders?
KG: We had a go at shutting down people’s access to file share on the last document management implementation.  Given the usability issues we had, overcoming people’s natural resistance to change proved too hard in many cases.
We are now working on this again throughout the organisation and seeing what we can do to make this easier for people.  Some examples include scripts that take folder names and, migrate content across to the new file classification structure and automating naming and metadata entry.  We are having much quicker success and encountering much less resistance this time.