Why Checking ECM User Behavior is Important

Users have a way of working with systems that may not be the way you (the designer of the said system) intended. We've all experienced users finding UX difficulties and bugs in the oddest places. While perplexing, this is not necessarily a bad thing.

When you design your ECM system, typically, you create the business cases, allow for feedback and build using feedback iterations. Documentation is written, and templates are checked to ensure the correct data is auto-populated or manually entered.

Then, one day, you notice that template fields are filled out incorrectly, templates are not assigned to documents or another thing you didn't want to happen.

This situation is perfectly normal and (actually) you should worry if everything goes too perfectly. It's expected when defining ECM. How the system is used or misused is critical information to assess and deduce why this is happening. Perhaps the missing or misassigned data doesn't match the needs of the department or organization.

ECM workflows are meant to reflect the business process they support. However, they shouldn't necessarily precisely match the previous paper flow. Determining the underlying business rules should be worked out with the departmental staff, including management. Teaming feedback like this is critical as sometimes management doesn't have hands-on the process but may have compliance or records management concerns. Paradoxically, staff may not perform the process according to "the rules" because it's too complicated or the task can't be completed IRL within the mandated time frame.

So, for instance, let's say you are performing a system audit and you discover the staff is saving the same document multiple times. This is a problem from a records management perspective. The solution would be storing the document in Laserfiche and imagine-enabling other systems. So that finance can see the document in the ERP system and sales can see it in CRM. Also, this could be a matter of versioning. Versions are a metadata type in Laserfiche that provides a way to save changes to a document without overwriting the document or losing that document's history. When version control is enabled on a document, modifications of the document will be saved as new versions, with older versions of the document also retained in the document history. If you are not working with Laserfiche, hopefully, the systems you are using have these capabilities.

When you find instances of misuse, please take it as an opportunity to sync up with staff members.

Discover what problem they were trying to solve when the new behavior emerged. Determine if there is another way to solve it using existing structures or if you need to build a new template, template field, or workflow. Often, users are indeed our best testers.

One more thing. I wanted to remind readers of this blog about our System Checks. Essentially, we (CPS) audit your system and deliver a report noting ways to upskill your users and make tweaks to your system. System Checks are part of our VIP-level services. Let me know if you've got any questions at cschott@cps247.com.