The ECM skills shortage continues

  • 28-Jun-2011

It's a discussion that reoccurs regularly enough with Real Story Group Document Management (ECM) subscribers -- how do I get skilled ECM staff? 

It's a tough question to answer. I could be facetious and say, "with great difficulty", but all joking apart it's a real challenge for many.  Finding staff with the right technical product skills (Documentum, Alfresco, etc.) can be hard enough but not impossible. Getting people with the right business skills is the real test.

First, the tech side.  Many vendors certify and train consultants to be conversant with their products, and at the end of the day a big ECM system is still just a big IT system, so typical Enterprise Architect skills along with good old Java and .Net skills can go a long way.  Good technical ECM skills (along with specific product savvy) might come at a premium, and they may not be in easy to find in your locale, but these folk can ultimately be found and/or trained. 

No, the bigger issue is finding those that can think ECM, that can liaise with the business, that have the right mindset, training, and business analysis skills.

It's a combination of library skills (the core of ECM) and business process management: the ability to talk to end users and business owners, track and model processes and tasks, and both translate and improve on them before connecting to the technology side of the equation.
There are training courses out there for ECM -- and some of them are quite good -- but there is essentially no accredited post-graduate (graduate in the US) level study available,  and that is such a shame. 

In my personal opinion the standard of business analysts (BAs) working in ECM has dropped dramatically over the past decade. Too many BAs now serve just under-trained requirements gatherers rather than skilled people who can perform real analysis. Few BAs really understand process flows and modeling, and even fewer understand the concepts of re-engineering and continuous improvement.

The problem is compounded further when one adds the very specific librarian and information management skills essential to ECM.  There are vacant jobs out there, and employers looking in vain for the right folk to fill them, but this industry has fallen far short in delivering the people needed to fully leverage all that ECM has to offer.

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