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  • Writer's pictureJack Arnston

With ECM You Get What You Pay For. But Do You Really Need It?

I recently read a recycled article written by Lauren Horwitz entitled When buying DAM software, don’t gorge at the feature buffet. Although the piece is a little dated, the message resounds when considering Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions.

If you are in the market for an ECM solution there are a number of factors to consider. On the surface, nearly all systems look great, after all, that is that their marketing people are paid to do. But, as you peal back the layers, things may not look as rosy. What more, with all of the potential features and options that are available, how do you know what you really need? When are you over paying for features you will never use? Or, when are you overpaying because each feature is ala cart and the upgrade costs keep stacking up?

We always stress to potential clients they need to understand their people and processes before selecting a technology. Too many times a company will become enamored with a technology, purchase it, and then try to force it into an environment that it does not belong. Ultimately, there is buyer’s remorse with these systems.

Back in the day there was an old saying that no one ever got fired for buying an IBM solution. To be fair, you could substitute IBM for a number of other manufacturers. The truth was, however, that these solutions were expensive and complicated, and for most companies overkill. We still see this, to a certain extent, in today’s world. Although the internet has helped to better educate decision makers, there is still the safe purchase from the perceived leaders in the industry.

So, you may ask yourself, where’s the risk? If I am buying the “top of the line” software, where can I go wrong? Well, the first thing is cost. You are probably paying a premium for software that you will only use a fraction of its capabilities. Next is deployment times. Most of these systems are not quick to deploy. Installations can take many months to complete and consume a department or company. Finally, there is the ongoing cost of the system. Typically, very expensive for both support and add on software modules and deployment costs.

As a company that resells and supports ECM solutions, we took this into account when determining which products to represent. We chose our solutions because they offered 98 percent of what the industry giants provided, but at a fraction of the cost. The software also met essential items on our checklist; quick to deploy, intuitive user interface, easy to use system administration, open architecture, published APIs, robust security, reporting and analytics tools and both cloud and premise options.

For you it should be no different. Finding the right solution to fit your people, processes and budget should drive your decision. Also take into account your future needs and the costs associated with them. Think in terms of three to five years out when selecting a solution. Finally, talk to others who use the software and get their thoughts. Are they happy with the software and reseller? Would they make the same purchase decision if they had to do it over?

Doing a little homework, asking the right questions and planning for the future will insure you get what you pay for.

Jack Arnston is a Principal at The Priton Group. They deploy ECM systems from FileBound and Capture Software from PSIGEN. He can be reached at

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