Dr. Franks Publishes Article on Electronic Content Management


Professor Patricia Franks, PhD, shares her expertise on electronic content management systems and integrated solutions like SharePoint Online in a recent issue of Information Management. 

Professor Dr. Patricia Franks of the San José State University School of Information was recently published in Information Management. Her article, “Integrated ECM Solutions: Where Records Managers, Knowledge Workers Converge,” offers a brief introduction to three electronic content management systems, provides examples of integrated solutions used by “knowledge workers,” and discusses the contributions records managers can make to support business process.   

As the 49th member of the Company of Fellows of ARMA International, Franks was invited to submit a piece as part of the Fellows Forum series, which is featured on the cover of the July/August 2016 edition.

In the article, she discusses the necessity for knowledge workers to recognize the “value of content” of an organization and to handle it responsibly.

“At the same time, records managers must be able to provide access to the right content—regardless of its status as information or record, its format, or its location— to the right person at the right time and in the right place,” Franks said.

Franks introduces three ECM applications found on Gartner’s 2015 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management, which ranks ECM vendors as leaders, visionaries, challengers, or niche players. She then highlights the benefits of each by providing examples of integrated solutions used by knowledge workers and discusses the contributions records managers can make to support business processes.

Franks presented Microsoft Office 365 and SharePoint Online as an integrated social media solution to create, manage and personalize content.

“Social features such as user profiles, blogs, wikis, and newsfeeds enable knowledge workers to communicate and collaborate. The Ask Me About section of the user’s profile provides a means to identify colleagues with specific expertise. Participation in community discussions can result in points and badges to reward contributions and help build reputations,” she said.

Also noted was SharePoint Online’s ability to comply with the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, the Federal Information Security Management Act, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and more. SharePoint extenders can be acquired from third-party vendors such as Colabware, Gimmal, and Records365 to add features such as case file management, event-based retention and support for physical records management.

The second ECM example provided was OpenText, which is the second-largest ECM vendor in terms of worldwide market share. It offers solutions for cloud-based, hybrid and on-premises deployments. According to Franks, a knowledge worker can set up a new business workspace to aggregate content and people.

“The centralized repository uses a variety of devices to provide users with access to content when needed from almost any location. Rather than focusing on documents or records, it focuses on the operational problems the organization faces by providing collaborative, process-centric workspaces with pre-built taxonomy, built-in metadata, and compliance capabilities.”

Moreover, OpenText Extender for SAP Solutions integrates the ECM with the SAP Business Suite to allow the knowledge worker to access content within SharePoint from within SAP. The SAP business solution contains business processes—including case management, vendor invoice management, and human resource processes—that deal with large volumes of content in various formats that must be captured, managed, preserved and delivered to the user. Utilizing Open Text’s Extender for SAP Solutions, records managers are able to create a file plan and manage retention schedules without interfering with any department’s line of business.

“Once the system in configured, users continue to carry out business activities while records managers control ultimate file indexing, archiving and disposition,” Franks noted.

While a niche player in the ECM industry, Laserfiche ECM solutions focus on document management, records management, imaging and workflow applications. It provides on-premises deployments, public hybrid options and dedicated (hosted) private cloud options while supplying packaged integrations to Salesforce (a popular customer relationship management solution), SharePoint and other applications.

“Most knowledge workers spend their time in business applications like Salesforce. But those applications don’t hold all of the information workers need. With Laserfiche’s Connector, Salesforce users have the ability to view associated and background information held in Laserfiche without leaving the primary application,” Franks said.

Not discussed in the article were open source solutions. Only one, Alfresco, was featured on the Magic Quadrant. When asked about her views on open source ECM solutions in a follow-up interview, Dr. Franks said, “The disadvantages of open source relate to the lack of professional support and the unreliable support provided by developer communities.” She further stated, “Some ECM solutions are more appropriate for certain vertical markets. Alfresco concentrates on financial services, national governments and health care sectors while OpenText is popular within the government, life science and utilities/energy industries.”

According to Franks, the technology tools depend on the company’s goals. “There is no one size fits all solution. Each organization must determine its needs and look for a solution that will help it fill them.”

To read Franks’ article in its entirety, please visit Information Management’s website.