Alfresco – Content Management Simplified for the Modern User

TSG just hosted a lunch and learn in Boston on May 20th and is hosting one tomorrow, May 22nd in Minneapolis focused on Content Management and the Modern User.   There is still room available if you are in the area and interested in attending.  This post will highlight our thoughts on the Modern Content Management user and what we are seeing from clients regarding simplification of the interface.

Modern User – Moving away from Document Management as an Application and the “do all” interface

Back in the 1990’s, those of us implementing Enterprise Content Management (ECM) applications were often competing against File Management on the PC.  Often times the ECM interfaces, at first all client/server, were constructed to look like Windows Explorer/File Manager for ease of user transition.    ECM vendors, looking to show off the capabilities of their software, would pack standard interfaces with every possible function. Modern users of ECM care less and less about back-end system capabilities and want updated, modern interfaces that reduce:

  • Training – Modern users want intuitive, easy to use interfaces that require minimal or no training.
  • Errors – Modern users want simplified interfaces that reduce errors rather than providing too many options.
  • Time – Modern users, in reducing errors and training, want to be able to quickly get their ECM tasks done with minimal effort and time.

The modern user needs a simplified, modern interface, not a “do all” interface that resembles old Windows Explorer interfaces.

Modern ECM Interfaces – it starts with Search

In working with clients, we typically see about 70% of users are consumers, and simply want a quick way to view approved or released content.  See our post back in January  about how search interfaces  have evolved from “build a search” generic search to configured, business tailored searches that provide for:

  • Business “Tracs” – ECM, by nature, can be used for a variety of different document types and areas. Users in the Accounts Payable department typically want to just focus on that area (and documents)
  • Configurability – business driven search simplified for users.  Users only see the types and attributes they care about.
  • Search Results – that display values to allow for quick sorting and filtering

Modern ECM Interfaces – Viewing

In that same post back in January, we also talked about viewing documents.  As referenced above, if 70% of the users are consumers, search should lead to a quick view/print of a document.  Modern users don’t want to have to wait for Word (or a Word emulator) to launch and would prefer to launch PDF files quickly.  Other points include:

  • Being able to view/edit properties while viewing the document.
  • Being able to easily see and access related documents or folders while viewing the document.
  • Being able to see any annotations on the document itself.

Modern users are looking for an application that can take advantage of larger modern monitors with side by side viewing as well as viewing documents on other monitors.

Modern ECM Interfaces  – Adding Documents

Users want speed and simplicity when it comes to adding documents.  Typical systems suffer in that users will avoid adding documents for a number of reasons:

  • Too many attributes to enter
  • Different applications for adding different image types

The modern user, looking for speed and simplicity will look for quick ways to correctly enter documents.  Some items include:

  • Smart Folders – where any document created in the folder will inherit a number of attributes from the folder itself. Examples include Vendor, Policy Number, Claim Number or Plant depending on the application.
  • Drop Zone – Users like drag and drop but not necessarily small folders where there might be a risk of dropping items into the wrong area.
  • Multiple Documents – Users should be able to drop multiple documents at the same time with changes of one or two attributes.
  • Scan – Leverage of Desktop Scanners to quickly scan paper with the same interface.

For an example, please see our Insurance Example in the Learning Zone.  The adding document components starts at 3 minutes into the video.

Modern User – Document Processing

Modern users want to not just view documents but also do what’s next.  Items could include:

  • Alert other users or groups to the document
  • Email the document to someone outside of the system.
  • Initiate Forms and Workflow for processing of the document
  • Annotate the Document

See our example in the learning zone of Sending and Email and Notifications as well as PDF Annotations.

Summary

Modern users want to reduce training with simplified interfaces.  This post discussed how modern interfaces begin with a search first focus combined with easy and intuitive tasks to view, add and process documents functions can simplify and improve the user experience.  Let us know your thoughts below.

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