Understanding Document Management in the Forrester Wave Context

Created by Forrester, an independent technology and market research company, the Forrester Wave on ECM, much like Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, analyzes particular vendors’ offerings within the document management and content management space.

Forrester is transparent about their methodologies for their Wave on business content services, relaying in-depth information on the processes of their research to prospective buyers.

Additionally, Forrester’s research for its Waves is predicated upon holistic processes, utilizing analysts, research associates, vendor response teams, and customer references to arrive at their findings.

The Wave is parsed into seven milestones: Getting Started; Creating Evaluation Criteria; Selecting Vendors, Inclusion Criteria, and Kickoff; Gathering and Evaluating Data; Scoring; Fact Checking; and Publishing.

Although document management and business content management services are slightly different facets of information management, they are highly interconnected, and one can be understood through an analysis of another.

Document Management Points from the Wave

Forrester focuses more intently on ECM features within vendor solutions than Gartner, noting that core ECM features such as file check-in/checkout, role-based user permissions, file cycle management, and search taxonomy will remain integral to business content and document management services.

In accounting for future ECM trends, the Wave also notes that integration will become increasingly two-sided, or “bidirectional,” meaning that software innovation for programs like Microsoft Office and Salesforce will be increasingly designed to integrate with ECM solutions, whereas prior to this phenomenon it was only document management vendors engineering their software to integrate with third-party software like Salesforce and Microsoft Office.

This will prove beneficial for prospective document management vendors reluctant to buy ECM that does not integrate with software on which the organization already depends.

Forrester aptly refers to this phenomenon as “bidirectional integration.” This bidirectional integration will be an important component of an even broader phenomenon as Forrester sees it: the software landscape adjusting to ECM as ECM has previously adjusted for it.

For organizations interested in using document management and content for sharing, collaboration, and usability, the Wave provides valuable insight on several ECM vendors excelling in these areas.

To solidify the importance of sharing, collaboration, and usability, Forrester notes that stake holders such as regulators and customers are stimulating demand for IT professionals to work on documents and projects outside the geographic location of the walls of the office, making high powered collaboration and file sharing features more essential than ever.

Additionally, Forrester identifies cloud-based ECM solutions as game-changers for early adopters in many industries—noting that although many organizations start with On-Premise ECM solutions to be familiar with ECM technology, it will be useful for prospective buyers to only consider cloud solutions across all industries moving forward. Forrester asserts that the cloud will be increasingly vital with time, and is here to stay, in large part, because of transactional content management.

Forrester also notes that this transactional content phenomenon entails business processes originating outside the organization and are fueled by third parties and customers, while

Limitations of the Wave

The Wave weights certain categories based on the research firm’s understanding of prospective buyers’ needs—raising questions about whether research firms understand prospective ECM buyers’ needs well enough to assess them.

On the other hand, some may argue that since Forrester’s customer is, in essence, the person reading their reports, they will take this person’s interest in technologies seriously, striving to provide the most accurate information possible. Furthermore, one may wonder whether Forrester solicited consumer opinion to determine the true needs of prospective buyers.

These trends only further illustrate the trend toward the consumerization of document management and content management services.