Last week after meeting with some FileNet customers, we posted on the developing a business case to replace FileNet. Some of the feedback we got was that the article could be applied to other ECM tools, particularly from Documentum customers. This post will discuss the development of a business case with both a hard and soft dollar items for the replacement of Documentum with Alfresco.
Documentum Replacement Business Case – What are hard and software dollars?
Typically hard dollar costs and savings represent the amounts for costs for Documentum infrastructure that no longer need to be paid versus the costs of the new alternative plus costs to move the documents and users to the new environment. Hard dollar amounts are easy to calculate as they are typically the price of maintaining the old software and supporting environment against the cost of the new software, environment and implementation effort.
Soft dollar are typically associated with savings the new system will bring. These benefits can include user productivity, reduced staff, quicker response times and other amounts that are harder to measure.
Documentum replacement – Hard Dollar Business Case
In building the hard dollar portion of the Documentum replacement business case, we would recommend allocating the following areas.
- Cost of the software – In comparing the current Documentum maintenance costs against an annual subscription to Alfresco (there is no purchase price for Alfresco), we have seen the initial cost comparison favor Alfresco. In the past, Documentum had always taken a “call the bluff” approach and not lowered their maintenance price if clients were considering alternatives. With Documentum being purchased by OpenText as well as more clients moving to Documentum alternatives, we would not be surprised to find OpenText more aggressive in lowing maintenance costs rather than lose customers. While both companies will discount the software, it is important to understand that Documentum is not equivalent to Alfresco in terms of capabilities. Some weighting should be given to Alfresco regarding more modern technology and capabilities. Other costs of the software should include the viewing and annotation software. For Documentum (and now OpenText) we typically see Brava but other tools support Documetum as well. We have been able to replace Brava with OpenAnnotate (add link), a free viewing and annotating solution for our consulting clients. Other components including xPlore (for full-text search) are an added cost with Documentum (and on an older version of Lucene) while full-text search with Alfresco is built into the platform with a more modern and up to date version of Solr.
- Cost of migrating to the new platform – One of the reasons many clients have stayed on legacy tools like Documentum is the cost of moving to a new platform. While not simple, it should be compared against the cost of keeping the legacy system current. Many times clients have “kicked the can down the road” and not upgraded or migrated. (We do see too often clients still on 5.3 or 6.X platforms) Both the cost of upgrading as well as the cost of migrating should be considered in the business case.
- Cost of the supporting software – For most clients, Documentum typically runs on an Oracle Database although SQL Server is very common as well. Clients should also factor in the cost of the database. For Alfresco, the ability to run on SQL Server, MySQL or even Amazon Aurora can be a substantial cost savings. Other operating environments and add-on software should be considered as well. Scanning integrations (Kofax or InputAccel typically) should also be weighed against modern alternatives like Ephesoft or even cloud/digital alternatives that do not involve scanning at all.
- Cost of maintaining the current infrastructure – Often legacy Documentum infrastructures are running on standalone systems that are expensive to maintain. These costs (for example – necessary upgrades due to old versions) should be included with a forecast of costs in the future. Business continuity and hot backups should be considered as well. With Documentum, often clients have introduced integration to EMC specific products like Centera as it was part of the cross-division sales initiative. Clients should consider alternatives for object-based storage from other more affordable vendors.
- Cloud initiatives – In discussing the replacement of legacy ECM, most clients have initiatives to replace the majority of on-premise infrastructure with cloud hosted solutions. This is an area that favors a modern platform like Alfresco that can partner with the leading cloud infrastructure providers like Amazon. Documentum used to offer hosted Documentum within the VMWare Cloud when part of EMC. See our analysis of how the VMWare cloud struggled to compete against Amazon in regards to cost and performance. With the purchase by OpenText, most believe that OpenText will begin pushing their own OpenText developed internal cloud as a hosting solution rather than any current IAAS provider. We would easily see the total cost of moving to a new Alfresco instance on Amazon would compare extermly favorable to moving a legacy Documentum system to the OpenText cloud.
In reviewing the hard dollar costs, the cheapest alternative will typically be to just keep the legacy ECM system going and invest minimal amounts into the system, something many clients have been doing for years. Unfortunately, maintenance costs for legacy ECM software doesn’t necessarily improve the solution, just gives clients the ability to upgrade to the new version, something that often can result in additional costs and risks. Like a car that isn’t well maintained, the legacy ECM system can, and will, eventually start to falter, resulting in expensive or unavoidable expenses with minimal benefits. Clients should carefully consider all hard dollar costs, including the expensive repairs and business interruption in building the business case.
Documentum replacement – Soft Dollar Business Case
Lots of items come up to compare on the soft dollar side. Some items we discussed with clients:
- Improved viewing and annotating – Many Documentum interfaces (Webtop, D2, xCP) often required helper applications to view documents and didn’t offer a preview or integrated viewing approach. With our OpenContent suite, we were able to give current Documentum clients better viewing and annotation capabilities but many still have the older interfaces.
- Improved navigation – Typical Documentum systems were built with a browsing versus a search approach. See our recording on how Documentum systems compare for Search. Modern systems and users are looking for more of a quick search with meta-data. For Case Management solutions, we have been able to show how users can navigate to a folder of documents with better performance for quickly viewing all documents. The reduction of the document navigation for the calling application maintenance is a benefit as well as the improved navigation.
- Improved capabilities – The ability to quickly combine documents and email them from within the system is something both clients found lacking in their current Documentum systems. What are the productivity savings for users now able to do this function quicker? Other integration to products like DocuSign, ShareFile, Box or other SAAS vendors also can add productivity benefits. The value of these capabilities should be included in the business case.
- Improved support and enhancement – As a modern platform, clients are able to find or hire resources easier to maintain the system. Documentum legacy interfaces suffer from the inability to quickly fix issues when things go wrong resulting in downtime and unproductive users. These are soft dollar costs that should be included in the business case.
- Product Direction – One item we always quote clients is that you don’t really buy software, you rent it. Understanding if your rent dollars are going to making the product better or funding products or services that aren’t providing any value. With legacy ECM products that are “cash cows”, (see our post on the OpenText Keynote) it is difficult to see future investments in the software given the disruption it would cause the install base. Alfresco’s focus is just about the repository and not the suite of products or new directions. See our related post from back in the spring when we surmised for Document Strategy that a large ECM Suite might not be so Sweet for customers. With all the other things (and repositories) that OpenText owns, it is difficult to see the Documentum repository (or partnerships like Amazon) being a point of focus.
The business case for replacing Documentum can be difficult as, in looking at hard dollar costs, the continued paying of Documentum maintenance can appear cheaper than the migration and implementation of any modern ECM alternative like Alfresco. Unfortunately, maintenance costs for legacy ECM software doesn’t necessarily improve the solution, just gives clients the ability to upgrade to the new version. Like a car that isn’t well maintained, the legacy ECM system can and will eventually start to falter and could result in expensive or unavoidable expenses with minimal benefits.
A better approach is to build a business case that combines both hard and software dollar costs and benefits along with company futures like ECM product direction and the move to the cloud. When factoring in the cost to move a legacy Documentum system to the VMWare or OpenText cloud, the business case for moving to a modern Alfresco instance in the Amazon Cloud becomes very clear, even without the soft dollar benefits. Let us know you thoughts below.
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