Tips for Tackling your Next TRIM/RM/CM Upgrade

The EDRMS formerly known as TRIM/Records Manager has a long history as the record-keeping system of choice at all layers of Australian government. One of the consequences of Content Manager (CM), as it is now called under new owners Micro Focus, being so firmly entrenched is the perennial challenge of version upgrades. These can be magnified by the fact that an EDRMs is generally very tightly bound with other business systems and a key element of daily workflow, making the potential for change significant.

To get a better understanding of what an organisation must factor in when it comes time to bite the bullet and move up to the latest version of Microfocus CM 9.3, IDM asked principal consultant, Tony Chung, from Kapish, a Tier 1 Micro Focus Platinum Business Partner, and part of the Citadel Group, for his insights. Kapish provides services and support for all versions of Content Manager (previously known as TRIM and Records Manager) along with a range of software solutions and custom software development for clients around the world.

IDM: Organisations across Australia and New Zealand are at different stages in their upgrade path, what would you say are some of the major reasons they should at least be considering moving to 9.3?

TC: Organisations typically undertake upgrades of their Content Management System to maintain their support, integration with other line of business systems, and to leverage new features of the product.  An upgrade can be undertaken to relaunch the implementation of the EDRMs, bringing a new interface and configuration for users.  Careful planning is important as Content Manager is generally the central repository for records (integrated with other systems) and heavily relied upon by users within organisations.  In most situations, upgrading to the .3x release tends to provide the most stability, reducing the risk to the organisation.

IDM: Some don’t upgrade their EDRMS for a long period of time. What are the oldest versions that you are seeing still in active use?

TC: Most organisations these days aim to upgrade their system every 1-2 years.  We’ve worked with some organisations that are still on TRIM Captura (4.x), which integrated with Microsoft Office 95!  Upgrading from these versions to the latest 9.3x version requires a two-step process, but doesn’t involve any more effort from the customer.

IDM: How long does the average migration take?

TC: For small organisations, an upgrade process can run from 2-10 weeks from project commencement to project closure.  Medium sized organisations 2-6 months and for larger customers with more complex integrations, projects can run from 6-12 months.  The varying duration for projects may be caused by dependencies such as integrations, bug fixes, appetite for user acceptance testing and project resources.

With more and more customers transitioning to the cloud and subscribing to ‘Content Manager as a Service’, it is recommended that additional time is factored for. This time allows for security penetration and load testing, as well as changes to authentication of integrations, etc.

IDM: What are some important steps that can be taken to help the migration process go smoother and quicker and avoid business disruption?

TC: Careful planning and frequent communication with the customer directly influences the success of a project, especially upgrades and large migration projects.  With our experience of the product, understanding the current known issues and workarounds, we provide the customer with the facts and options available, which allows the customer to make informed decisions early on in the project, rather than later.  Working with different organisations will require different levels of engagement; it is important to set the expectations and roles and responsibilities early in the engagement, as well as adapting to changes where required during the journey.

IDM: Does an upgrade provide an opportunity to consider the option of CM as a Service or a cloud offering? Is this happening on a large scale?

TC: An upgrade definitely provides a prime opportunity to consider the option of moving Content Manager to a cloud offering; this would need to fit in with the organisation’s IT strategy.  There are two ways to approach transitioning to the cloud.  This can be delivered as part of one project, or as two separate projects.  There are definitely efficiencies and cost savings to be gained by delivering as the one project.

At Kapish, in part with our parent company Citadel Group, we have recently upgraded two customers to Content Manager as a Service in the cloud, with another planned go live in April 2019.  There are quite a few actives projects underway with many in the pipeline.  There is definitely a shift in focus from customers, moving away from an on-premises model to a cloud offering.  We believe we are seeing this shift for a few reasons, including: data security, application resiliency, and support expertise, all at a cost savings for an organisation.

IDM: Do many organisations still face an issue with user resistance and low adoption? How do you work to improve this?

TC: Many customers do face a small portion of their user base resisting adoption for the EDRMs.  After understanding the reason for this, Kapish works with the customer to find a solution to solve these problems, whether it is training, configuration, integration, product add-on, or introducing a process that works for their team.

As part of upgrades, performing a ‘like for like’ upgrade is typically recommended, however if there are some quick wins and features we can easily implement then it would make sense to introduce this as part of the change.

IDM: How do you address the Change Management issues in an upgrade?

TC: The key is to start Change Management early in the project, ideally during the initiation phase.  This allows more time for the organisation to communicate any changes to users and helps involve them during the process, such as user acceptance and overview sessions highlighting key improvements and changes.  Quick reference guides and e-learning videos have also been popular with customers during upgrades and almost essential for new implementations.

IDM: Do you recommend using a pilot to test functionality, identify further customisation required, identify problems and how to solve them, and test for staff acceptance?

TC: Changes to functionality and behaviour, which affects the end user experience should be performed in a lower environment to ensure that no issues arise, in particular with any integrations or add-ons.  Introduction of a new business process should go through a pilot group to ensure it is well tested and appropriate for the business before planning the deployment into production.  Over the years, Kapish has developed a methodology for these business process deployments for customers, called the “Model Office Approach” where a process is defined and built; followed by testing and refinement before it is deployed into Production.  Through the process, the customer is trained and empowered to deliver these moving forward.

IDM: Do you have a checklist you provide organisations preparing for a change?

TC: Here are some:

  • Reach out to 3rd party vendors and check if the application is compatible with the upgraded version of Content Manager.
  • Resource planning to ensure the project has the appropriate resources to be successfully delivered.
  • Gather any user annoyances or gaps in functionality.
  • Architecture planning (if on-premises) or consider transition to the Cloud.
  • Get an insight of new functionality in the target version and note down for consideration.
  • Licence Exchange (for older versions).