Job One in the upgrade of a major ECM system

"Upgrade it and they will run away!" is a risk scenario with any major upgrade of a business-critical, enterprise system, including an enterprise content management (ECM) system.

Often the people promoting an upgrade are technologists who are almost always 'early adopters', but many staff just want to get their job done and will often be confused by, resent or even resist changes – telling typical users that they will get a whole bunch of 'cool, new features' isn't likely to make them enthusiasts.

Here's a typical persona of such a user:

  • Doesn't read corporate communications (newsletters, emails, etc.)
  • Doesn't like technology
  • Couldn't care less about the product or site provided it 'works'
  • Just wants to 'do their job' without external disruption

One of the big challenges is to ensure that when such a persona comes to work on the Monday after a major upgrade that they don't say, "What the *#% happened to the site," especially when the interface has changed.

I'm struggling with these issues in advance of a major ECM system upgrade. The system is called Ollie and has been in production for 15 years. It now has over 5.5 million objects and 4,000 users – 93% of whom use the system every month. It's actually the main internal Enterprise Library of Open Text and is pretty much an un-customized version of the product we sell now called Content Server.

  • Content Server version 10 is just about to be released. It is the latest iteration of a product first called Livelink, and provides the underlying shared services of the Open Text ECM Suite.

Without doubt the newer version provides a better, more modern interface that will be preferred by most users – once they learn what's different and how to use it. I know most users will prefer it as it has undergone extensive usability testing – but I also know that you can't please all of the people all of the time and most people don't like surprises at work.

So 'job one' is to create a short, effective video that overcomes the shock of the unexpected, since no matter how good our communications strategy is, many people will be surprised. The video also has to smooth the way for further change, because while some of the benefits of the new version will be available on Day One, others depend on subsequent work by knowledge managers using new capabilities that become available after the upgrade.


  1. ///artin I'm looking FWD to the creation of Job 1!

  2. But how do you get people who match your persona to even watch the video! You can't just send them an email, as they don't read those!