Shared-Services can cut the cost of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) by up to 20 per cent says Gartner

26th October 2009

Organisations can save as much as 10 to 20 per cent of their Enterprise Content Management (ECM) costs by moving to a shared services model, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner analysts said that shared services have become a practical way for enterprises to provide ECM services, and vendors under pressure from the economy are now willing to work with the shared services model as a way to drive business.

“Businesses have long struggled with multiple ECM deployments which have, in turn, created information silos and caused businesses to pay for separate sets of software licenses, maintenance and support skills for too many ECM vendors,” said Mark Gilbert, research vice president at Gartner. “The troubled economy has forced many IT organisations to cut ECM costs, but traditional approaches to consolidating are slow, complex and costly. The shared services — or ECM as a service — approach promises at least a partial solution.” 

The shared services approach is a delivery model in which an organisation purchases ECM functions centrally and governs the types of services offered, while granting users a degree of ownership. The business itself, or cloud-based service providers, can deliver these functions over the internet, much the same as service-oriented architectures (SOAs) make reusable software procedures identifiable and callable. Shared services may also include support from experts on a particular topic, computing infrastructure and reference architectures. 

According to Gartner, the benefits of the shared-service approach include economies of scale, reuse of infrastructure, interoperability across the enterprise, speed of deployment, information sharing, and improved credibility for the IT organisation. But there are also downsides. The limitations of the share-service approach include an inability to integrate existing information silos and the inability to provide enterprise-scale savings for advanced ECM functions needed by individual departments. 

Shared services make sense if planners can identify basic functions that almost every department uses or needs, says the analyst firm.