Documentum to Alfresco Migration – What about Solutions?

The dominant theme at EMC World and Momentum Europe was a focus on solutions.  Previous themes, particularly when announcing the discontinuation of solutions (ex: DCM, Marketing Asset Manager…), were focused on ECM infrastructure.  In the past, both Documentum and Alfresco have focused being an infrastructure component that can be configured stand-alone or integrated into a variety of business solutions (ex: SAP) to provide content management.  This post will examine the shift from infrastructure to solutions for the two companies, as well as present TSG’s goals with solutions for 2013.

Why ECM solutions now?  What happened to ECM infrastructure?

One of the continued trends emerging in 2013 is the shrinking of corporate IT budgets.  Large and small companies are less able to justify large development efforts in addition to maintaining their own staff of developers to build and support these efforts.  Software and consulting firms need to provide more of a solution that reduces IT cost and support needs.  Business stakeholders also want to look at co-tenancy options and look to the cloud to share infrastructure costs across multiple companies.  The obvious example is that has disrupted the CRM space.  With Salesforce, the business owner no longer needs to be concerned about servers, upgrades, infrastructure costs, or the IT personnel to support enhancements and troubleshooting.

More and more, companies want a “good enough, packaged or out-of the box” solution, rather than custom developed software.  The infrastructure model ECM vendors like Documentum and Alfresco have focused on is seeing increased competition from solutions providers that provide “good enough” content management capabilities.  A great example is SAP.  Back in the early part of 2000, many of our clients would look for Documentum integration with SAP.  SAP, in response to customer requests, is now providing more and more content management solutions.  Rather than supporting integration and multiple vendors, some SAP customers chose to adopt SAP’s “good enough” solution instead of a more robust ECM integrated infrastructure.  Years ago, clients looked to manage all content with one ECM infrastructure.  Given a focus on ROI, clients are more and more comfortable with managing content in a variety of tools (SAP, SharePoint, Alfresco…) for cost and support reasons.

Understanding Solutions  and what’s “good enough”

The focus on solutions is an attempt to connect, from a sales perspective, with a business owner that is wary of infrastructure, customization and integration costs.  For a business owner, certain words carry expensive interpretations:

  • Infrastructure – Servers, Software, Upgrades, IT Support = Cost
  • Customization – Development People, Support People = Cost
  • Integration – Development People, Support People = Cost

In approaching a business looking to reduce costs, a “good enough” or “out of the box” solution can be seen as a simple way to avoid expensive infrastructure, customization and integration requirements associated with typical ECM models.

“Good enough” could be defined for users as getting most of the key functionality needed to meet the business objectives.  Rather than being customized, which can trigger “expensive” reactions, solutions are sold as configurable, implying user configured, to meet additional needs.

Solutions – How they are sold

Keeping in mind that solutions are geared toward business users, the sales approach needs to focus on business needs rather than IT concerns.  As an example, review the newly announced Documentum Compliance Manager for Life Science (PDF).

  • Accelerates ROI through expert-led sessions that result in rapidly configured controlled content management
  • Deploys quickly while minimizing IT involvement through preconfigured Intel server or partner hosting options
  • Promotes compliance with GMP, OSHA, ISO 9000 and 21 CFR Part 11
  • Incorporates the best practices of many successful global implementations

Other interesting points include:

  • Delivering “Compliance in a box”
  • Upgrade rapidly to new releases of EMC Documentum products
  • Minimize up-front costs by creating a monthly payment plan

All of the above points represent a focus on aligning with the business buyer rather than a traditional IT stakeholder.

Solutions – Include more than just software

Business and IT buyers need to understand that solutions include more than just software.  In order to achieve business goals, solutions need to be delivered with experienced resources that truly understand industry best practices, the software components and how to configure the software to meet the business goals.

To truly meet the business goals of industry best practices, the external resources must have the experience to push users toward industry best practices as well and what is easy (less costly) to implement.  For example, we often have the following discussion with our clients.

User:  The system needs to do X.
TSG: We have been doing these types of systems for over 10 years – no one has ever done X.
User: Maybe we don’t need to do X – What should we do?  What are others doing instead of X?

Solutions will be packaged to include professional services, either from the company itself or a partner.  In the example above, Documentum has aligned with Impact Systems, to sell and deliver the Compliance Manager for Life Sciences.

Alfresco has recently announced the acquisition of WeWebU , a services and software provider focused on content centric business applications.  In addition to the solution, WeWebU will form the core of a newly announced business unit, Alfresco Business Solutions, to provide solutions to clients.

Solutions – what is coming in the cloud

Keeping with the Salesforce model, more and more solutions are going to be deployed in the cloud to reduce infrastructure costs of servers and IT support.  Both Alfresco and Documentum have made substantial investments in providing cloud options, although not quite in the same way.   As we point out in a previous article, Documentum, with a sales driven culture, has chosen more of an easy sale of making a previous internal Documentum instance now available via their cloud on-demand.  Alfresco, as an engineering driven culture, has invested in more of a true multi-tenancy offering.

We predict that Documentum will struggle with their cloud offering due to a concern that they will cannibalize their existing client base and pricing model.  Hosted solutions with Documentum is something that TSG has some experience from back in 2000 with the Documentum Application Service Provider Program.  Our offering,, provided a web based multi-tenancy collaborative content management platform on top of Documentum.  We struggled engaging with sales reps that could either sell $500/seat solutions or a cloud based service offering at a substantially lower commissions due to a service contract rather than software purchase.   We see the same issue facing Documentum cloud offerings because maintaining the per client price point gives them limited flexibility for pricing in the cloud versus the pricing models of other solutions.

Alfresco is much better positioned to capture new revenue with cloud and hybrid cloud offerings without cannibalizing existing sales.  Since Alfresco clients are already accustomed to a CPU based service agreement (without a purchase price), the movement to the cloud for existing customers is dramatically simplified and could result in a positive ROI just by the elimination of servers and IT support personnel.  Due to Alfresco’s pricing model, Alfresco can easily compete with lower cost providers by avoiding the per-seat pricing model.

TSG Solutions – Looking Forward

At TSG, we remain committed to providing solutions to make our clients successful.  During our annual strategy meeting, we realized, like Alfresco and Documentum, we get too focused on products and technical descriptions and need to be more focused on solutions from a business perspective.  We need to package our solutions with specific business goals and provide clients a range of purchasing options, both internally and externally.  We need to be able to present a clear business benefit to business users, rather than just great software for IT.  We need to look for cloud and multi-tenancy hosting options, as well as hybrid cloud/internal solutions where appropriate.  In the upcoming months, look for more posts around specific solutions including:

  • Document Control and Change Control for Compliance – With Active Wizard and HPI, we are already implementing this solution for multiple clients both on Documentum and Alfresco.  Look for more best practices, templates, and additional configuration capabilities.  We just presented with Alfresco (webinar recording) on this solution.
  • Digital Asset Management – With our award winning implementation for New York Philaharmonic, we have a great understanding and the relevant tools to build more a solution around Digital Asset Management.
  • Insurance – Policy and Claim – Again, HPI is a solid foundation and shares many components of the Asset Management solution.  Look for this demo in our learning zone for an example.
  • Others – Our products let us easily implement Accounts Payable, Engineering, Enterprise forms, Asset/Lease/Contract Management and other solutions for clients.


Solutions will be the focus for both Documentum and Alfresco this year.  A solution is more than just a software purchase as it will involve professional resources with knowledge of both best practices as well as solution configuration options to achieve business benefits.

Documentum will package consulting/software offerings around D2 and xCP, along with either internal or external resources and a variety of hosting alternatives.  Alfresco will also be offering more solutions and hosting alternatives as seen with the recent WeWebU purchase.  TSG will continue to provide innovative software and will start providing best practices, cloud and more configurable offerings to provide solutions for our clients.  TSG solutions will continue to run on either Documentum or Alfresco to give our clients flexibility.

If you have any thoughts or comments, please provide below.

7 thoughts on “Documentum to Alfresco Migration – What about Solutions?

  1. There’s no doubt in my mind that the future is all about the cloud and about SaAS. As the next generation of IT leaders emerges who have always done everything in the cloud, (IM, Facebook, Linkedin, Skype, etc.), the notion of local solutions / local storage will become increasingly archaic. What would we think of someone who ran their payroll in house today as opposed to using a vendor like ADP?

    • Ben,

      Totally agree. Just had this discussion with a friend of mine over lunch yesterday in regards to R&D information or other information that “had” to stay behind a firewall. To your point, before ADP it used to be Payroll was too sensitive to ever be outside….it will all change over time as companies look for more IT efficiencies.


Comments are closed.