Just a tool

“…abolish the ECM, CRM, BPM, email and the new E20 silos” by Max when discussing this.

That’s  what triggered this post.

In the last few days I was day dreaming about what’s to be done next. What stuff should we create to help our customers (to make some more money, actually). So I thought why our customers don’t use ECM and BPM and Collaboration as much as we would want them to. Because that’s why they don’t buy it – they don’t use it so much. Sure, there are some solutions which are actually skyrocketing in usage… but those are just about 20% of the pack in my world.

What am I using each day? Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, SharePoint, Visio. Webex and Connect sometimes. WordPress ocasionally. Chrome and Internet Explorer, a file manager. No “solution”.

My colleagues? + Eclipse, Visual Studio, small applications

My other colleagues? Very few some use the ERP/Financial software. Some CRM, but just at minimal. An incident tracking system…. A contract management solution (cool!:)) .. a workflow solution for holiday requests.. And that’s pretty much it.

So.. only 2 solutions on ECM and BPM. The rest is quite ok handled by SharePoint as a tool.

Bingo! Evrika!

“As a tool”

Just a tool, damn it! This is what I need. I need a tool to help me. To know what I’m trying to do and make it easier. Like document editors, like email clients, like sharepoint. Sure, you can write code in MS Word/SharePoint/Lotus/… but why bother? It’s good enough for the 80% of us as it is.

Let’s build a tool!

People need a tool for case management, a tool for collaboration or a tool for both. A tool we can use as we please, when we want and how we want it.

The tool should know about “the cloud”. Or be the cloud, or whatever does the trick. The cloud is a resource the tool can help me use it.

A tool is something simple to understand. Although it might also be complex, but simple on the surface. It can be a swiss army thingie. Or just a plain screwdriver. That’s why (maybe) iPhone/Pad apps have so much success. They are tools. Convenient to use, straight to the point, available, purchaseable (is this a word?).

Give me the tool! Let’s make the tool! I’ll go make the tool!

My take on what is Case Management on ECM

Ok, since “the analysts” told everybody that Case Management is the new hype and we should all do it, many started to ask what is Case Management. Some (many?) said they are already doing it… This makes sense because nothing is new under the sun.

Obviously, a lot has been written (eg: CMS Watch, Consected, Lee, …) on the topic and many definitions were made. One of my colleagues came to me today asking what is actually Case Management and incidentally I was just reviewing all the online opinions after reading yet another new “analyst” reports on the ECM market. So I reckoned it would be good to decide for myself what CM is. Here it is:

What is a case?

A case is the sum of information entities and their associated relations and context, grouped together to reach a certain objective.

My spin on the other definitions is that the thing which makes all these “entities” (people, data, processes) be together is the fact that “the subject” needs to reach a certain objective. Such as, the contract to be fulfilled, the patient to be cured, the credit to be completed… This is what makes all these workers do something on the whatever documents or pieces of information they gather in relation to the case. The lifecycle of the case aims at that objective with intermediate milestones on the path.

A case has the the following specific characteristics which differentiates it from other information structures (eg. folders …):

  • Contains information elements (documents, notes, structured data records…)
  • Knows the relations between all the elements (eg: a schedule is related to a contract, an order to a contract and this one to a frame contract…)
  • Follows a certain lifecycle
  • Has a history (business history, not only a technical one)
  • It’s sensible to its informational context (events in and out, interacts with business processes and data changes from the outside)
  • Brings together the people working on its subject
  • Supports specific views of its contained information for various audiences

What is NOT a case?

Something which fulfills at least 3-4 of the above characteristics might be a case. The rest is probably not.

For example, a credit application is not a case. The “credit” in itself is. Not only the initial file comprising the paperwork for the credit application (this is still a part of the case), but also all the information and “things” which happen during the performance of the credit.

What is a case management system?

Subject for the next post….

EMC has a new CTO for IIG

Damn, that title is full of acronyms.

Ok, so Victor left EMC (from the Chief Architect position) and Jeetu Patel comes as a CTO to “drive the group’s product vision and innovation, growth strategy and cloud computing initiatives”.

I must admit, I did not hear about Mr. Patel until now so I was curious to see who was brought into the IIG area. Luckily enough the new CTO  has a blog one can read and try to understand the vision and inspiration he brings with him into EMC.

First of all, let me wish him good luck with the new position and I surely hope it gives ECM software a fresh and strong push into the right direction. Given the fact that software was for some time now acting as the Cinderella of the corporation, I surely hope a strong external person can make the necessary difference. Of course, the new ideas need to find resonating support inside the organization…

Thanks to LinkedIn I can see that for the past 16 years or so JP (sorry for shortening it, no disrespect intended) led Doculabs with significant experience in the consulting area of the business. Also, being a member of various ECM related groups (IBM, SaaS, AIIM), I’m gusessing there is some knowledge of multiple solutions in this space. Which is very good.

I would like to make a list of things to suggest to the CTO of IIG. I know it sounds childish but I really care about having outstanding ECM products out there. And EMC is one of the companies I’m looking at to deliver this and as much as the CEO is important, I’m always taking sides  with a good tech guy.

That’s why I’ll make it short. Not a list, just one topic:

Please don’t turn the platform into Taskspace. There is really much more to it.