Seven Steps to Prepare for taking ECM Capabilities to the Cloud

If like others, you’re beginning to consider a cloud option for your future ECM operations, don’t underestimate the level of due diligence and planning required to start that effort. Everyone is at a different stage in their cloud evolution, but a good general rule of thumb is that it’s going to take six to nine months of analysis, preparation, development and testing for any large enterprise to move their ECM operations to the cloud.

A good part of that timeline in larger organizations is taken up aligning all the right people and departments (commonly called the bureaucracy). Make no mistake  - this is very important. Ensure you’ve got a broad combination of IT, operations, and business partners represented before even proving out the cloud solution alternatives. A significant investment and potentially risky project like this won’t succeed without support from all three of the groups mentioned. Once you’ve got the right groups identified and are working to build the needed level of support, then consider these seven key steps to prepare for success:

  1. Know what you’re trying to achieve.
  2. Align with the security and data protection team.
  3. Know your data.
  4. Know your integration points.
  5. Know your vendor(s).
  6. Develop your business case.
  7. Consider requirements for staffing and skills.

Know What You’re Trying to Achieve

Why does your organization want to move to the cloud? Are you looking to leverage the compute scaling, the storage facilities or both? Are your other enterprise apps already in the cloud or moving there soon? Before embarking on your project, or proof of concept, be clear about the objectives and understand the trade-offs you’ll face in the design and operational environment.

Align with Security and Data Protection

Seek out your security team, or your enterprise cloud team of architects that likely includes your security representatives. With these stakeholders, plan your user access needs and your persistent and transient data requirements in advance of starting your analysis. No cloud project can be delayed or halted more quickly than if it is not aligned with enterprise security and data protection policies.

Know Your Data

Prepare a model for initial size and growth rate of your ECM repository. As part of this, consider whether you are planning to migrate existing content, or live in both worlds until existing content expires. Whether you’ve currently got just a few TBs, or hundreds of TBs of content, determine your desired plan for existing and future data.

Know Your Integration Points

In addition to your ECM data, you need to understand the full set of enterprise applications that both feed and ECM system and consume content from the system.

How many of your integrated applications already exist in the cloud, and how many are and will remain on-prem? What’s happening with the APIs of those systems? Are they becoming more open, or locked in their historic closed approach? The more of the latter, the tougher your integration effort will be.

Know Your Vendor(s)

Did your ECM vendor just port their product to the cloud, or did they re-architect it to more naturally leverage the cloud scaling and storage powers? Is the vendor moving to a more micro-services or ala-carte approach for delivery of ECM services?

Although many vendor tools have made smooth transitions to cloud operations, some firms prefer to move away from the expensive, over-featured licensing agreements, and are looking for a services-based architecture in which they can buy (or build) exactly what they need and nothing more.

Develop Your Business Case

Develop your business case or cost model in advance of starting the project, or even a proof of concept. Determine how you’ll calculate your new cloud platform costs, including the storage growth, data usage and on-demand scaling. These are new for most firms, so give them the requisite level of attention up front. Even if you’ve been given a mandate, (perhaps you’re closing your on-premises data center), you’ll need a valid business case.

Consider Requirements for Staffing and Skills

Start by assessing the internal depth and breadth of skills for your target cloud platform. Plan to supplement existing staff and skill gaps with contract resources as necessary. Unfortunately, as a consequence you should expect to lose some newly trained cloud-skilled staff, as they’re in high demand and command top dollar. Last, but certainly not least, ensure that you’ve got a team with the right skills and experience to build, extend or operate your ECM platform without a hitch. That means cloud certifications and full stack skill sets.

We could continue to add to the list, but if you start with these seven steps you’ll be well on your way toward success with ECM in the cloud. To get started, download our ECM in the Cloud checklist as a quick reference guide to these seven steps. We're always happy to schedule a call if you have questions about this topic, or need assistance.

Download the ECM in the Cloud Preparation Checklist

Rich Medina
Tom Roberts
I’m a Principal Consultant for Doculabs with more than 25 years experience, focused on delivering strategies that improve clients’ enterprise content management capabilities, with an emphasis on customer communications management strategies.