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ECMPartners Connects the Convenience of Microsoft Windows and Office with the Robust Content Management of IBM FileNet

By DAVID Jenness posted Tue March 29, 2022 08:53 AM


Welcome to the continuing series on IBM Business Partners and how they contribute to our Community. I’m pleased to introduce you to ECMPartners, European Business Partners who focus on design and deployment projects for the Netherlands market.

If you’re new to IBM Automation, ECM stands for Enterprise Content Management. ECM was recently a billion-dollar software category, which IBM dominated with a 20% market share for many years. While the term is ECM is used less these days, the market for Content Services is predicted to expand rapidly from $11 Billion in 2020 (Forrester), as Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Computing continue to transform it. ECM software focuses on digitally managing a company's business-critical information, usually from a centralized repository, to enable storage and retrieval of digital content across the enterprise to support business processes, customer engagement, and maintain compliance and governance.

Managing a company’s business-critical content is precisely what ECMPartners does. Their team of experienced designers, consultants and developers has been building solutions on the IBM FileNet platform since 2005. Their focus is on government clients, including several agencies within the Government of Netherlands

In addition to design and deployment of content management solutions for customers, ECMPartners occasionally develops proprietary software to respond to customer requests. Lately, they are very excited about their Zero Footprint Client (ZFC), a new product they announced recently to meet a challenge by a Dutch Government agency.

The Agency has hundreds of workers using Microsoft Office products to create and collaborate on content. When many people are creating documents and saving them on a shared drive, it doesn’t take long before their content management plan looks like a hoarder’s garage. People can’t find the drafts they were working on, use the wrong versions, or even delete or lose important documents. According to IDC, time wasted on searching for information costs Fortune 500 companies between $60-85 Billion in direct costs and even more in opportunity costs.

The Agency was looking for a way to better manage all the content that their teams were creating, the kind of robust content management that IBM FileNet offers. However, teaching employees how to manage their own documents in FileNet was a nonstarter. In fact, for years, studies have shown that employees are often resistant to follow new procedures about how to properly create and store documents in a repository.  “That’s not my job,” they say.

And they are not wrong.

The team at ECM Partners understood that if employees were hired to create content and collaborate on ways to better serve citizens, then dont add a level of complexity they dont need. So instead, they looked for a way to integrate FileNet ECM capabilities into their Microsoft Office work environment, much like IBM recently integrated FileNet and Salesforce.
Raoul Niamut, Co-Founder, ECMPartners

Once Zero Footprint Client is deployed, agency employees simply launch their Office Document applications, navigate their folders using Windows Explorer, and create content as usual. Unseen to them, IBM FileNet Content Manager is tracking revisions, managing check-in and check-out document processes, and offering the kind of control over documents that the Agency is looking for. The innovation is twofold: the employees don’t need to learn new procedures, while the IT department doesn’t need to install and manage FileNet on every workstation.

“By integrating with Windows Explorer, we allow document users to work on case files and documents from their Windows Explorer interface,” says Raoul Niamut, one of the co-founders of ECMPartners. “That’s their comfort zone. It’s what they’ve always used.”

To understand how ZFC works, imagine a user sits down at their workstation and launches their browser to log in to IBM Navigator, which is where their case files and working documents are available. Microsoft Office applications and Windows Explorer are available on their workstation, but the documents are not stored locally.  The ZFC server software handles all the interaction with the FileNet Objectstore and all actions – creating new documents, edited documents, making copies, etc. – are all managed in the Objectstore, including access permissions and retention schedules.

In the end, the Agency gets optimum control over content, yet the users continue to work as they always have. 

ECMPartners has a series of short videos that demonstrate Zero Footprint Client on their website. Though the language is in Dutch, the look is familiar and you can easily pick up how it works.