To clarify, I am in favour of the effort and the fact that this kind of initiative will raise the profile of ECM but I am unsure we will get something new from the work that is not already covered elsewhere. Something to keep an eye on.
Have a look at this interesting article on Alfresco in the UK.
I may come across as very pro Documentum in this blog but the truth is that most of my ECM work has been with Documentum, hence this is where most of my knowledge is. If asked about the biggest threats to Documentum I would say MOSS and Open Source. However for some reason Open Source seems to be getting left behind in the UK and I feel great sympathy for the likes of Alfresco.
From what I have read about Alfresco, and a little bit of dabbling, it seems to be built on an open and flexible architecture. Yet it is really struggling in the UK. The article above points an accusing finger at the big SI’s in the UK…is this fair? The Public Sector market in the UK has been very good for IT Consultancy firms in the past 5 years and this is a market, especially in the UK which is risk averse.
This does not mean that the notion of Open Source should not be taken to the Public Sector but I do fear that this is not something which is being fully embraced. This is not something they should be vilified for, they go into opportunities knowing that the scorecards against which they will be judged have got a weighting applied. However without the first real reference this will continue.
Its a cycle which will be broken and the consultancy which manages to break it may just steal a very big march on the others.
Now I do try not to be negative about such initiatives as it can be too easy to sit and write a blog to criticise others, we should be making positive contributions to the information on such subjects. However I do question the objective of this initiative. At the end of the link above the following statement is made:
“The manifold benefits of an industry-wide code of practice for ECM include helping organisations and individuals to understand ‘What it is’, ‘What it can do’, and ‘How to measure the quality level of any project against a formally recognised specification’. The PAS is intended to be the first step moving towards an internationally agreed standard for ECM.”
So what are we going to get:
- a definition of ECM. Okay, not a bad start. Everyone has a view on this presently so this will be another one to throw in the mix. Will it be treated as definitive?
- a statement of what ECM can do. Mmm, again not bad. I wonder what level of detail this will go into, full requirements specifications including Use Case style approaches. I suspect this will be more leaning towards what I would consider the Logical Architecture for ECM; again there are plenty of other works in this area.
- how to measure the success of an implementation against a specification; the PAS specification I suspect. This is where I start to get a bit twitchy. The biggest challenge I would put to BSI and The Content Group is how does this differentiate from the MOREQ work which has produced a full specification and will shortly produce version 2? MOREQ is now relatively mature and the new version will include a framework for testing, sounds similar. If this is to go beyond MOREQ and include the full scope of Enterprise Content Management, i.e. including the likes of Digital Asset Management, Web Content Management, and so on then it will add value. This will be interesting to keep an eye on.
I’m sure the likes of James will be amused by efforts like this, I am convinced these are not the types of standards he has been commenting on in recent months. It seems to me that we do have a number of standards in ECM including MOREQ, iECM(well…), JSR170 and now this. We need to be moving towards something which can be used as a blueprint towards a true SOA of ECM and having some idea of the service interfaces which would support this. If ECM is truly going to move towards a SaaS model then this would be a huge beneficial step.