I am taking a one-week break from the 4 step governance approach to comment on a related topic.
An ECM consulting firm I hold in high regard (name withheld) recently published an article justifying a vendor neutral ECM consulting / system integrator strategy. As I read this article, it struck me as a very 1980s point of view. Back when the vendor landscape had hundred’s firms and the technology was less mature, this may have been an enlightened perspective and strategy. In this article, the firm laid out all the reasons why their vendor neutral strategy made sense but failed to point out the reasons why it no longer makes sense.
I’ll focus on a single reason … access to information and certifications. Having access to essential information is critical to successful ECM solution delivery and value creation.
Let me explain … I would imagine any vendor is willing to make a certain level of information available to any consulting or system integration firm that inquires. In the case of IBM, that information is limited to what is publicly available (as you might expect). Firms that have “official” relationships with IBM are entitled to another level of information, much of which is confidential and not publicly available for obvious reasons. IBM partners are entitled to, and depend on (to deliver customer value), access to detailed product plans, training materials and most importantly product and solution certifications.
Customers tell us they only want to deal with certified partners. They insist on partners having access to the latest plans and technical info … and they prefer those integrators who have invested in skilled and certified personnel to ensure high quality and high value solutions. When deployments become problematic, or fail, it almost always is due to lack of knowledge or skill by the integrating firm. This might seem obvious but it happens.
I know this particular firm protects itself against scenarios of this nature somehow, but I still fail to see how any “vender neutral” firm can provide proper guidance to any customer without access to critical information such as detailed product plans, technical resources and most importantly … product and solution certifications. What do they do … make it up? guess?
Of course you can still make “vendor neutral” recommendations IF you partner with the ECM vendors you make recommendations about. That way, you have access to information, tools and resources and an informed point of view.
It might seem harsh but from where I sit, what was once enlightened is no longer so. The consulting firms and integrators that deliver true value to customers have access to the latest information and are certified on the solutions they recommend and deliver.
I loved the 80s but times have changed … the market and vendors have consolidated … technologies are much more mature … it’s time to move on. Whether your vendor is IBM, or any of the other viable ECM vendors, only use certified consultants amd system integrators.