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Calling out the ECM Posers

I am officially sick and tired of posers.  Posers think that just because they saw someone implement an ECM system once or, scarier still, have seen a demo that they too are now experts.  There are to many trained resources out there to work with posers.

Hopefully it will never happen to you, but let’s say you needed brain surgery.  Would you let your family practitioner try it or would you find a brain surgeon?  And ECM isn’t even brain surgery.

A Unique Twist on Layoffs
Odds of getting someone to leave a successful role, one they’ve had for years, would have been slim only last year.  But today’s economic climate means that there are some people with deep experience available that probably never thought of leaving their current company.  One company’s layoff or early retirement program is your goldmine. 

There are ECM practitioners out there that have invested their entire careers in how to develop and deploy ECM solutions.  To them ECM is their first language.  Yet posers are getting jobs while people with ten plus years of experience with multiple projects and customers spend their days worrying about how they will put food on their family’s table, just because they were victims of a layoff. 

Posers Get Real
I have stated it before, ECM is not complex.  ECM is different.  It’s like walking up to a Frenchman and saying “Wow I can’t believe you can speak French.”  He’d probably think the same thing if he didn’t realize that you’ve been speaking English since you’re childhood.   And the reason that the Frenchman understood what you had said was because he took the time to learn English.  Posers aren’t posers if they’re willing to listen and learn.

There are enough resources out there to get training for free if that’s what you want .  As I stated a few week back there are several ECM platforms available for free.  There are vast developer communities and blogs that also share their knowledge.  And yes there are training programs available for a fee too.

What we don’t understand is when we are expected train someone for free that is being paid to be an expert.  We’ll train any customer on any product.  We’ll work with partners.  But don’t ask us to support you for free when you’re getting paid.   Each ECM practitioner started as a nubie and took the time to learn.  I spent four days in a cube at the client site immersing myself in Documentum and Visual Basic before I wrote my first bit of code.

Sorting out the Posers
Still companies go down the path of enlisting the help of posers.  Often it is not their fault.  There are some beautiful resumes out there with the right buzzwords and a couple of embellished experiences.  Even the best of us can be fooled.  How do you avoid being fooled?

Certifications is probably the easiest way to weed out the posers.  Most major ECM vendors provide certification programs for their platforms (EMC, IBM (Content Manager and FileNet), Open Text (eDOCS), and  Microsoft).  AIIM also has it’s own vendor neutral certificate program.  For customers this offers a way to ensure that the resources you are talking to have a base level understanding of the platform they claim to have.  This goes beyond simply sitting in a training room but validates the individuals learning with a pass-fail exam.  (For those that are looking to get certified the test fees are minimal and only there to cover the costs of testing center administration.)

The other way is to network.  There are several networking options.   When you visit the reference site, keep those contacts.  Learn from their lessons learned.   Another great place to learn is from user group meetings and conferences.  The  costs of attending can easily be covered by the experience gained and pitfalls avoided.   Now those were the two obvious choice but I have two more. 

LinkedIn is a professional social network.  It’s a great way to keep track of your peers but it’s also a great way to find experts.  Just search on the technology you need and you’ll be returned a list of contacts that your contacts or their contacts know in that subject area. 

Bloggers are another great source to access networks.  We are already investing our personal time on the subject and, by our writings, we love to share what we know with others.  So feel free to ask us.  Also to the right in the margins there are several blogs in the ECM space.  My favorite technical bloggers around ECM are Pie and JohnnyG.

Poised (Not Posed) for Success
Posers ultimately bog down the deployment at best or completely invalidates it at best.  Any true vendor will back up their sale with training and education.  That’s what they’re there to do.   It the same thing with partners.  Everyone is out to do the best to ensure success for their client. Your success is our success.

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