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By  , Principal Engineer

Have you ever walked through the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes in Northern Michigan? It’s a really cool experience, but it’s also rather deceiving. Your goal is to walk to the Lake Michigan shoreline and for most of your journey through the dunes, you can see the lake in the distance – this is what makes it so deceiving.

You’ll climb to the top of a dune, thinking that on the other side you’ll finally be able to feel the waves splashing over your toes, only to see another tall dune to summit. And this happens again and again and again.

I bring up this anecdote because it’s a good analogy for managing an IBM FileNet P8 system.

You go through the efforts of architecting, procuring, deploying, and configuring the system – all of which had their own “mini dunes” to climb, so once those steps are finally complete, you think you’ve gotta be done – the water has to be on the other side – only to experience another “dune”: the operational phase. Then the maintenance phase. Then the support phase.

Even though you might be ECM (enterprise content management)-exhausted and tempted to approach your IBM FileNet P8 system with a set-it-and-forget-it mentality, these phases of your system lifecycle are crucial for long-term satisfaction with FileNet. You must keep walking!

During the operation, maintenance, and support phases, I see three challenges that people commonly run into:

  1. Managing changes to FileNet.
  2. Maintaining adequate system security.
  3. Effectively integrating other systems and applications into FileNet.

Change Management in IBM FileNet P8

This is the process of recording, documenting, and approving the implementation of changes in your computer systems. Change management becomes a challenge when there’s poor communication about the what, when, and where of changes.

What can you do to reduce the potential negative impacts of this?

I recommend documenting the following information in detail:

  1. An architecture diagram of the environment including…read more.

To read my recommendations, download the white paper.

IBM FileNet P8 Security

What makes FileNet security so difficult is that it’s dynamic and there are people constantly trying to undermine it. To keep up with its dynamic nature, organizations make their own security measures dynamic – a natural reaction. Even though this is a must, its dynamic nature causes more challenges because it impacts the maintenance schedule. Trying to keep up with a constantly changing environment is hard!

To change or improve the current IBM FileNet P8 security measures here are some suggestions:

  1. Enforce password rules. As an organization, you need to educate your uses and systemically enforce good password practices. Standards for strong passwords are…read more.
  2. Consider implementing dual authentication. This can greatly enhance your FileNet security. Dual authentication requires users to…read more.
  3. Maintain security configuration in a master document outside of the system. Avoid treating the system as “self-documenting” for configuration. This approach can be especially dangerous for…read more.

To read explanations of each suggestion and read five more suggestions, download the white paper.

FileNet System Integrations

The challenge in providing IBM FileNet P8 as an integrated service to a wide variety of business applications is in getting all those applications, agencies, and departments to conform to the rules of an enterprise service.

Each of these business applications is “mission-critical” to their individual business communities, and from their perspective, their mission is more critical than all others. How do we manage an enterprise system with hundreds or even thousands of integration points across all these business solutions?

This is one of the most persistent and difficult problems you will face in operating an enterprise FileNet P8 system in an integrated environment. At its heart, it is a people problem, not a technical problem. Below are several recommendations based on my experiences:

  1. Have inventory and document integration points. A “solution interface spreadsheet” will be really helpful for this. This is a template to be filled out in a collaborative effort that documents…read more.
  2. Avoid the “wild west” approach. Require everyone to conform to your standards for both documentation and testing and make it clear in your agency SLAs that…read more.
  3. Control the variables. A big part of this is managing the schedule of changes. Create a roadmap for your system. Include release dates and…read more.

To read explanations of each suggestion and three more suggestions, download the white paper.

Operating, maintaining, and supporting IBM FileNet P8 is a big undertaking. Your journey is not over after the solution is deployed. It’s crucial that your organization continually invests in effective and comprehensive change management, FileNet security, and system integration processes. By focusing on these aspects of the system lifecycle, you’ll experience excellent ROI.

James Taylor

James Taylor

Principal Engineer

About the Author: What I love about my job is that I get to work with new people on new challenges. When I get time off from work, I like to travel.