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5 Reasons NOT to Take the Cheapest Route with Your ECM System

I’m just finishing up a bathroom remodel in my home. When I started contemplating this project I acquired four quotes from a combination of both plumbers and home remodelers. Boy, were those quotes vastly different! The company I ended up hiring wasn’t the cheapest, but I hired him for the project because he agreed to do all the work (which included drywall, tiling and plumbing work) and he also agreed only to charge me for additional materials if the project ran longer or came into complications. That second provision paid off for me because as with most home projects, he did run into a myriad of complications and what was supposed to be a 5 day project turned into a 3 week project! So, while I might have paid a little more upfront, had I hired one of the other three contractors I would have either been doing a portion of the work myself (which of course would have come with its own set of major challenges) or I would have been paying significantly more than the original quote due to the additional labor and materials necessary to complete the project.

Researching and implementing an ECM system can require a similar thought process when you consider the overall cost of the project. Here are 5 good reasons NOT to take the cheapest route with your ECM system:

  1. The quote is the cheapest. ECM systems are made up of many variables that contribute to the total cost of ownership. While some vendors are willing to sell you the software for next to nothing, be sure to do your research on the cost of additional software to achieve your desired results, hardware requirements, maintenance fees, licensing costs, service rates, etc. If you only look at a single element of the price tag, you may find that your “inexpensive” system doesn’t turn out to be quite so inexpensive.
  2. Install it yourself to save time/money. You have an IT staff you’re already paying so why pay expensive “experts” to assist with your installations and upgrades? Just ask any company whose installation period exceeded the project timeline or whose system went down as soon they went live. They aren’t called “experts” for nothing and the price for that piece of mind will seem like small potatoes if anything goes wrong.
  3. Integrating. Be sure that the system you are investing in has proven integration capabilities with your existing internal systems. You won’t like the invoice you’ll receive if the solution provider has to have a developer write additional code or develop a complete custom integration.
  4. Expanding Enterprise Wide. Investing in an ECM system for a single department is a common way for companies to start small with document management. Once the decision makers see first-hand the power of a good ECM system (and the savings!) they’ll want to expand those tools into other departments and maximize that investment. Be sure that your ECM solution has the flexibility and the features to expand into the enterprise when you’re ready to do so. You don’t have to use those features right away, but investing in a system that has them available to you can pay off big time down the road. Having to invest in a more robust ECM system a year or two into the project won’t save you money in the long run.
  5. Value Added Services. We’ve all been there. You take your time, build a relationship with the sales person, make an educated purchasing decision and once you sign on the dotted line, you never see or hear from the company again let alone try to get service if something goes wrong. In some cases for a company to offer a price point that will incentivize you to buy, they have to cut corners. Be sure they aren’t cutting off your system support line just to get you to buy. Ask what value added services they offer if you choose to become a customer. Technical Webinars? User Group events? Online user communities? Access to product evangelists? These features can keep your internal staff educated and in the know on product topics and solutions – without any additional invoices.

While my bathroom project took longer than expected, it does have a happy ending.  I now have a beautiful, new bathroom that was done right. Could I have gotten it done cheaper? Possibly, but it could have also turned into a very expensive nightmare – as could your ECM project if you aren’t careful. So when you’re contemplating the installation of a new ECM system, take a moment to ask yourself, is this the cheapest way or the best way?