As with any business technology, an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution can only deliver a positive return on investment if users adopt and actually use it. Often, users don’t recognize a solution’s value or obther to learn how to use it because it is foreign to their work style or is perceived as just not worth the time it would take to learn it. Repstor is a Microsoft partner that has taken on the challenge of addressing user adoption through the design of the company’s flagship product, Repstor affinity. I spoke with Repstor’s CTO Fergus Wilson to learn about the company and its products. If you’re evaluating ECM solutions, Wilson’s answers will give you a starting point for your investigations.
KF: What is the goal of Repstor and what is your strategy?
Fergus Wilson: Repstor was created to inspire Enterprise Content Management (ECM) adoption. Organizations today need to make important decisions around how to manage and store information, which systems to focus on, and how best to deploy them for maximum benefits to users and the organization. Yet many of the benefits of ECM systems are lost because users end up not storing, or accessing information from the chosen system.
We want to help organizations manage their content by successfully helping them to deploy and utilize ECM systems such as SharePoint, or other content repositories. With this in mind Repstor has developed products that provide the end user with the following benefits:
- intuitive access to Microsoft SharePoint (on premises, and Office 365) and other content systems simultaneously from within Microsoft Outlook
- easy email management with native integration between Outlook, SharePoint, and other ECM repositories
- full offline access and filing for remote and mobile workers
- a secure case and email manager for SharePoint and Office 365 to manage email and documents effectively in legal matter and case based scenarios
- facilitated filing for compliance and effective collaboration
We are dedicated to developing products that enable collaboration and compliance for the Outlook-centric workforce. Repstor’s products make access to content systems easy and intuitive for users, therefore overcoming the main cause of failed deployments of ECM systems – failure of users to adopt the system.
KF: How is Repstor different from other product organizations?
Fergus Wilson: We are a software company whose founders and management have a heritage in ECM technology companies and a strong foundation in software engineering. This gives us a deep understanding of the issues facing companies in gaining control over their content while retaining user buy-in and ensuring system adoption.
We change and improve how organizations deploy ECM systems.
We create products that users will adopt because we make our products intuitive and familiar. Our past experience has been key when developing the Repstor flagship products, affinity and assist, which provide uninterrupted access to content from Microsoft SharePoint, file shares, and other content systems through the familiar, intuitive interface of Microsoft Outlook.
This is what our customers say:
“Repstor’s approach is fundamentally different. In designing their affinity product, they have thought about what users expect from Outlook and what they want and need from a SharePoint system within Outlook. The product is built to minimize disruption to the user experience and encourage user adoption of SharePoint. The result is that our users are able to easily meet the PMO requirements for keeping their documentation and correspondence up to date and complete with significantly less effort and much better consistency,” Andrew Palmer, Head of PMO, Belfast Health & Social Care Trust.
KF: What is your goal with ECM, and how is your focus evolving?
Fergus Wilson: Simply put, our goal is to enable our customers to deploy ECM systems successfully.
Our flagship software product, Repstor affinity, provides an intuitive and familiar user interface through Microsoft Outlook that helps ensure ECM projects are successful by encouraging collaboration and compliance. Repstor affinity is the only native integration between Microsoft Outlook and SharePoint and is purpose-built to encourage user adoption of ECM systems. Repstor affinity enables your organization to deploy ECM systems successfully and easily, enterprise-wide.
We have added to our product suite with the development of Repstor assist, which provides facilitated filing for enterprises. Repstor assist provides the user with full offline filing capability that keeps the filed content fully available while on or offline. It also provides assisted filing to users by taking best practice filing and using this to suggest the most suitable location for new content.
Initially our focus was heavily on Outlook integration with Microsoft SharePoint and file shares, but we now offer multi-repository support, which includes integration to other repositories such as Microsoft OneDrive, HP WorkSite and HP TRIM. This integration makes it possible to give active access to multiple ECM systems and help the transition from one system to another.
Our focus is on providing solutions to meet our customers’ needs.
KF: Who is the target customer?
Fergus Wilson: There is no “typical” Repstor customer; anyone who uses Microsoft Outlook on a daily basis and has a need to file, store, and collaborate on content will find Repstor products beneficial.
Our products are ideal for mobile, remote and semi-disconnected users, especially in industries like professional services, legal, oil and gas, public sector, and other regulated industries. We significantly reduce change management costs when rolling out systems, improve ROI for existing systems, and fully support Microsoft Office365.
KF: What makes ECM adoption a challenge and how does Repstor address this?
Fergus Wilson: In our experience a combination of factors often leads to unsuccessful ECM projects. These include over-ambitious requirements, bad software, and bungled project implementation.
The statistics speak for themselves:
- 57% of organizations use Microsoft SharePoint for ECM/DM, 31% consider it to be their main or only (10%) ECM/DM system
- The biggest ongoing issues are user adoption, extending the business scope, and governance
- ECM is a work-in-progress for most: only 18% have completed a company-wide capability
- ECM is a multi-system landscape.75% have more than one ECM/DM/RM systems
One of the biggest ongoing issues when deploying an ECM system is user adoption. There are many reasons for this. Most of the benefits of ECM outlined at the beginning of a project are related to the organization, not the users accessing the system, the users who must submit and access the information on a daily basis.
Too often ECM projects fail to focus on the users who are key to the success of the system. It is only these users who will make the ECM system a success through their daily use of it. If no immediate benefits are obvious to the user, the system is not adopted.
Repstor’s products are all designed to address the issue of failure of users to adopt the system—the main cause of failed deployments of ECM systems—by making access to content systems easy and intuitive for users.
For more information on the challenges faced by organizations when implementing an ECM system and the many paths organizations explore please see our whitepaper, The Road to ECM Hell Is Paved with Good Intentions, available at www.repstor.com.
KF: How important is user training and hands-on experience?
Fergus Wilson: People need to be familiar with Microsoft Outlook as our products are built to integrate with Microsoft Office products and Office 365. However there is no additional training required to utilize the Repstor products as they have been designed to be intuitive and easy to use with the user never having to leave the Outlook interface. Repositories like Microsoft SharePoint and file shares can be accessed by users seamlessly from within Outlook for viewing, adding, and editing content, whether those users are connected to a network or not.
Repstor’s products enable content management and ECM to become transparent to the end users, so that little or no additional action is required by them for the organization to obtain the benefits of ECM adoption. This means minimal training is required, with no disruption to the daily routines of the end-user.
KF: What is Repstor’s relationship with Microsoft, and why is that important?
Fergus Wilson: Repstor is a Microsoft Certified partner and has designed its products from the ground up to fully exploit Microsoft’s technology and the Microsoft suite of products.
Repstor’s products ensure the success of your Microsoft ECM project by providing access to information across systems from within the familiar Microsoft Outlook user interface, addressing a key issue of user adoption. This enables users to easily contribute and file content, meeting compliance and collaboration requirements.
The Repstor affinity product deploys natively within the Microsoft Outlook environment and connects seamlessly to one or more Microsoft SharePoint or Microsoft Project Server systems. By being native within the Outlook client, affinity avoids the performance issues, and user experience issues common within similar products. Repstor affinity connects with the SharePoint system using the standard remote APIs as the client user. No changes are required within the SharePoint system. This avoids deployment complexity and ensures that affinity can be part of the processes and lifecycle management of the overall ECM solution. The organization can continue to build on the standard SharePoint technologies ensuring a comprehensive, tailored ECM system, while relying on affinity to provide easy access to that system for end-users.
Central control allows the organization to decide exactly what content should be available to whom at any particular time. Users can then access the system, add, update and organize content whether on or offline.
The Repstor assist product works in combination with the Microsoft ECM products to provide assisted filing of content and emails, removing the burden from users having to decide where and how to file new information.
Because Repstor products are completely client-side products, they can work as part of any cloud-based SharePoint system. They are fully supported within an Office 365 solution, providing the additional benefits of full offline, network-independent access to the hosted SharePoint solution.
KF: What industry research or data should potential customers know about that will help them understand your value proposition and/or evaluate their own situation?
Fergus Wilson: A number of research papers and reports review the success and benefits of ECM projects. Some research papers worth reviewing before deploying an ECM system are AIIM Industry Watch, “SharePoint 2013 – Clouding the issues” and “ECM at the Crossroads” AIIM 2013.
One statistic that stood out for me is that even when using SharePoint, more than 50% of ECM projects are not successful.
Our whitepaper, The Road to ECM Hell Is Paved with Good Intentions, looks at the options organizations consider and the paths often taken when implementing ECM systems, why these paths are pursued, and the resulting outcomes of that action. You can download this whitepaper at www.repstor.com.
KF: Do you have customer testimonials or case studies readers can refer to?
Fergus Wilson: Throughout our website various customer and partner testimonials are available: www.repstor.com and blog http://www.repstor.com/category/blog. Our case studies are listed at http://www.repstor.com/resources-for-ecm/collateral. These are regularly updated, so check back often! You can access our case study on the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust through the following link http://www.repstor.com/collaterals/belfast-health-and-social-care-trust.
KF: What else do potential customers need to know?
Fergus Wilson: I would recommend you request a demo of the Repstor products so you can experience first-hand the unique Outlook integration and product interface. We also do offer a free trial of our software which is available by registering at http://www.repstor.com/products-for-ecm-adoption/try-our-software. When you register, we will email you with download details for the software and a 60 day license that will allow you to deploy to as many systems as you need in order to evaluate it against your individual requirements. Help and advice is available from Repstor during this period via email or phone.
Repstor also has a global network of delivery partners to help implement solutions and support customers in your local market. These partners provide specialist expertise and a local presence to customers in addition to the global support Repstor provide.
Repstor is a team of people who are passionate about inspiring ECM Adoption.