Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Moving (slowly) to WordPress

Don't know if it will be permanent or not, but I've had so many issues with MS Word and Blogger that I've decided to give WordPress a try.  (Hey, next step will be to use WordPress for my website!).

Go here to view my latest WordPress blog post!

Friday, March 16, 2012

ECM systems and Search - Either-Or?

So you want to manage your content and then you want to find it too. Sounds reasonable. Must you pick just an enterprise content management (ECM) or a Search system, one or the other but not both? That seems like a crazy proposition. Although most people (myself included) consider Search and Enterprise Content Management solutions complementary, you’d be surprised what some others think, especially when there is a shortage of funds. In this era of tight budgets, it isn’t surprising to find some who reason “well, if I can’t manage my stuff, at least I can find it when I need to manage it.” A shortsighted view at best, you may rightly think. If you don’t manage your files, and you do search and fine them, then you may find a great many versions and not be sure which one is the authentic version. Oh yes, you can always check the file creation date. And if that file is a Word document, and someone clicked “save” after printing a Word document, then that date itself isn’t meaningful. So you can find things but you can't be sure about the value of what you've found.

And what about the reverse: Managing your files but having no search solution? Luckily that is less of an issue. Every ECM system, from SharePoint to Documentum to Alfresco to name-your-favorite has a built-in search system. Why? Because it doesn’t do any good to store and manage you’re your files if you can’t locate them. Findability is easy when there are only a few hundred files and a few people storing them. That would be the first hour of the first day when an ECM system is first set up. Findability gets hard really fast after that.

Instead of thinking of the "ECM or Search" choice as an either-or, think about the critical benefits each provides the other. Search and ECM together are better than the the combination of each separately. To get the most out of an ECM system (even with its built-in search system) it is worth thinking about how search improves ECM and vice-versa. Ultimately, neither is effective without some good understanding of this symbiotic interplay, and each requires a commitment to improving its use, oversight and continuous improvement. When you appreciate this interplay, and the responsibilities that follow after you get an ECM system running, then you might even consider stepping up to a search system that goes beyond what you normally get for “free” with ECM. Interestingly, two of my favorite ECM systems, Documentum from EMC and Alfresco, both now use Lucene/Solr, and this open source search system doesn’t skimp on power. For more about the benefits of search to ECM, and ECM to search, go to my Guident blog post. You’ll be surprised how these two systems work together, the whole being bigger than the sum of their parts. I’d welcome your comments and thoughts there (and here too).