Getting your arms around enterprise content management (ECM) problems is never easy. There are so many factors – from security and scalability to usability and policy definition – which must be managed simultaneously that just scoping and defining the objectives of an ECM solution is a project in itself. This article is the first in a series that describes how to manage and execute the early stages of ECM deployment with an emphasis on vendor selection and initial deployment. The first step in the process is defining the functional requirements of the ECM solution and defining how to choose among your application options.

With so much already written about functional requirements, why bother discussing it any more? It is because we still have trouble getting it right. Many organizations are adept at defining strategic IT initiatives and aligning those with business objectives; but mapping those objectives to tactical, implementation-oriented actions is a challenge. We can easily assume that an objective such as "improve cross-functional collaboration" includes a host of features we expect while glossing over the nuts-and-bolts implementation issues that eventually must be faced. The best way to ensure we deliver what our organizations need is to identify exactly what problem will be solved, how a solution will fit in the organization and how we will choose among possible solutions.

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