Does this sound familiar? You are migrating a legacy system to a newer, more efficient enterprise content management (ECM) system, and the majority of your scanned corporate documents are not in a fully searchable format. Whether your new system is SharePoint, FileNet, Documentum, LiveLink or other ECM, you are going to face some real business pain if you have shortcomings in your electronic documents.

In most cases, an ECM migration will some re-engineering of business processes to make them fully electronic i.e. eliminate paper. This will require PDF documents to make scanned documents searchable and any other document easily distributable. In addition, you may want to  convert document to PDF/A for long-term preservation i.e., archiving and records management.

In our work, we have seen many examples where these requirements are not considered until well into the project – resulting in a less than optimized system.

In one case, a company that used Stellent (now Oracle) ECM – which created a PDF for every document – migrated to the IBM FileNet P8 platform and in the process, discovered that they needed to upgrade their PDFs to include hyperlinks to effectively support business processes. Another company outgrew the capabilities of its Lotus Domino system and migrated to FileNet, re-converting all scanned documents to searchable PDFs to improve search and reduce file size.

In another case, an organization left EMC Documentum’s “eRoom” team collaboration system and moved to SharePoint, as did a company that migrated from Lotus Notes to SharePoint 2010 for managing their content, largely because of SharePoint’s full text searchability.

PDF is a very versatile document format which allows organizations to maintain their processes electronically. Their self-contained nature makes PDFs easy to distribute via email or the web, and their breath of features - such as bookmarks and support for  digital signatures - makes them highly versatile and well suited for publishing.

Are you in the midst, or thinking of, an ECM migration at your company? What state are your corporate documents in for the migration? Are you considering using PDF to improve your processes? Leave your comments here. (And good luck with your migration!)