Who's Doing Your ECM QA? Your Users?
December 05, 2014

Dave Gibson
Reveille Software

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End users are increasingly demanding. Not many years ago, expectations for apps and performance were set by experience with in-house systems. Now, users’ expectations are set by social media interaction in terms of interfaces and performance. Everyone expects high-performance access – both in their personal lives and for their knowledge worker applications.

ECM (Enterprise Content Management) systems, and their supporting IT and application teams, know this all too well. How often have you heard, “It’s taking forever to download a document,” or “search is taking forever!”

Two big problems are revealed - what do these ambiguous performance comments mean in terms of measured ECM application service levels AND why are you hearing about this problem from your end user? These problems lead to more questions. How do you diagnose the issue? What does forever mean? Why does the user know about their performance problems before you do?

The recent survey, Managing and Monitoring Business-Critical Content and Capture Applications, executed by AIIM and Reveille revealed critical statistics about these concerns.

■ 72% of organizations said their current performance monitoring was “manual – triggered by incidents/support calls.”

■ Of the companies surveyed, only 20% had dedicated content monitoring products that helped them find ECM-specific problems before their end users are affected.

■ Systems with 1000+ users created 60-150 support tickets per month.

This might be one reason that adoption and expansion of ECM solutions is such a challenge for organizations. According to a Forrester Global Enterprise Content Management and Archiving Online survey, “48% find user adoption of existing ECM solutions to be a challenge facing their organization”. (Five Key Trends That Are Shaping How We Manage Enterprise Content, Forrester Research, Inc., September 19, 2014)

Rethinking QA – Ongoing, Not One-Time

To get ahead of these support calls and improve end-user satisfaction, ECM support teams need to proactively manage their ECM application performance. Say goodbye to the days of testing only prior to upgrades and migrations, with ideal use cases, and a limited set of users. Say good riddance to relying on synthetic logins and scripts to tell you (by simulation) what your end-users are experiencing after deployment. And yes, let’s drop ambiguous performance descriptions like slow and “forever.”

In today’s demanding environment, with new case management and workflow-based applications, ECM applications are becoming increasingly mission-critical. Here are the top four items you need to know about your ECM environment to support continuous improvement and ensure your end users aren’t the ones dong your QA:

■ Know actual, named end-user's experience by having insight into their real-time transactions and response times.

■ Know your systems actual usage – both volume and transactions for a normal operations and peak loading scenarios.

■ Know when a problem is about to strike by leveraging thresholds, so you can be alerted when performance is starting to falter, before end-users feel the impact.

■ Know how to correlate issues between ECM platform performance and your end-user experience to more quickly diagnose problems.

There are many other important aspects to managing your ECM – benchmarking, trending, automatic repairs and more – but by focusing on the actual end-user experience, you’ll be one step closer to ensuring peak ECM performance and widespread adoption.

Dave Gibson is COO of Reveille Software.

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