With EMC World next week, I had an interesting discussion with a client regarding the future of Webtop with Documentum. As readers will know from last year’s EMC World post, Documentum announced last year that they would not be “investing in Webtop” in the future. For this post, I thought I would share some of that conversation as well as general thoughts on Documentum product development.
Product Manager and Product Development at Documentum
To truly understand why Documentum would say “not investing” in Webtop, you have to have an understanding of how Documentum, and most software companies, develop and enhance their products. TSG was lucky enough to have worked with a former Documentum product manager and got a unique insight into the process that, to our understanding, hasn’t changed considerably recently. Readers will not be surprised to learn that development efforts at Documentum are similar to development efforts within their own IT organizations in that:
- Product Managers need to ask for funding – Similar to our business cases, the product manager has to request funding for an effort – new release of Webtop, CenterStage, MyDocumentum…..
- Product Managers have to ask for staff – based on funding efforts, a product manager has to request staff to complete the development.
Similar to client efforts, issues can arise if:
- Product Managers change products resulting in inconsistency in product development and technology direction
- Funding is limited
- Staff is inconsistent (different developers assigned to different products per release/update)
- Timelines slip based on other needs or lack of funding
From the discussion above, it is easy to see how a product manager being told that Documentum’s future is xCP, would pass along to the client base that Documentum “is not investing in Webtop” as funding for that effort would be going to xCP. It is also easy to see how development for CenterStage could go in spurts and change technology direction with new staff and product managers.
Many Documentum users, particularly those that have a heavy commitment to Webtop, were very concerned that Webtop would be discontinued and require a new purchase (xCP or CenterStage). Most Webtop users are not asking for new functionality rather to just make the upgrade easier or not so often. While there are no specific presentations on Webtop at EMC World, I would like to suggest to Documentum that instead of “not investing” they change their message to “stabilizing”. For Documentum users, stabilizing would be a good thing in that:
- They have a considerable investment on their own in Webtop solutions
- Have struggled with upgrades in the past that added new features but did not change the overall user experience
- Documentum still has a ways to go before either CenterStage or xCP can completely replace Webtop
A “stabilizing” message would not be that different from what we hear in regards to a Webtop for D7 when it arrives.
We (TSG) think, overall, a stabilized Webtop along with support from Documentum is better for our clients (and Documentum) than a completely redone D7 Webtop or forced migration to a new tool. Clients want minimal changes between 6.5 and 7 versions of Webtop and would like to decide to upgrade to xCP or CenterStage when there is a compelling business reason. As an example, many of our clients leveraged Workspace (circa 1995), particularly for DCM, well into the 2000’s when that product had been long discontinued. While Documentum did not really provide support, most clients had been using the stable version of Workspace for so long that support was not an issue. As Webtop gradually sunsets, xCP, CenterStage, CMIS or Open Source alternatives will move in to fill that gap when clients, and the business, justify the upgrade/migration effort.
Please let us know your thoughts below.