Technology Services

ECM Solution Recommendation for a Transit Authority

Taking the first step in dealing with mountains of paper

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, the largest provider of public transportation within the state of Ohio, was looking for an enterprise content management (ECM) solution that would streamline its processes to permit more timely and comprehensive compliance with public records requests and electronic discovery obligations, and to take better advantage of the operational value of its data, which was becoming increasingly difficult to manage, find, search and produce.


Iknow’s project approach involved five workstreams.

1. Baseline Assessment. The purpose of the baseline assessment was to lay out GCRTA’s current state of capabilities, practices and procedures as it relates to enterprise content management. To effectively develop this assessment, Iknow conducted interviews with executives, as well as IT, security systems, records management staff. The work was supplemented with documents provided by GCRTA and external data sources as well as Iknow proprietary data based on over 200 client engagements in multiple industries.

Several key themes emerged from the analysis.

  • There exists a deep-rooted P2P2C (People-to-People-to-Content) culture. If someone wants to find out information at the organization, the default method is to reach out to a colleague who might know where the information is found. This model of knowledge sharing places a premium on individuals (and the information they have access to) rather than technology (and the information it can access).
  • Structured training on software and systems is limited. Many of GCRTA’s system and software tools are not being used to their full capabilities. A principal reason for this is that employees typically do not receive formal, structured training on the products. Most of the employee training is OTS - over-the-shoulder - where individuals learn while they use the software/ systems, focusing on the immediate tasks at hand.
  • Process governance, documentation and standardization is inconsistent across GCRTA. Although processes exist at all levels of the organization and range from simple and linear to complex and multi-department, there is limited oversight, governance and standardization for these processes. There exist no best practices process templates or process control documents.
  • The GCRTA is largely a “paper-based” organization. A large number of records at GCRTA are stored on paper. Reliance on paper-based records generally occurs for one of three reasons: (1) technology; (2) inertia; or (3) cost.
  • The effective application of records management policies and procedures are uneven. The GCRTA has a widespread “save it” mentality – an inherent bias towards keeping data and records beyond their destruction dates. The “save it” mentality is allowed to continue because there is a loose governance structure and there is not a mechanism in place for policy enforcement.
  • No legacy ECM systems exist. GCRTA has not implemented any enterprise-wide applications that provide core ECM functionality. With no exiting ECM systems in place, there are no issues associated with legacy system migration, consolidation or sunsetting.

2. Future-State Vision. The purpose of the Future State vision workstream was to provide insights as to what benefits GCRTA could potentially realize through the implementation and deployment of an enterprise-wide ECM solution. Iknow reviewed more than 170 case studies from many of the leading ECM product vendors. These case studies described ECM implementations at organizations in the public sector, private sector, and nonprofit/NGOs. The private sector organizations covered almost every industry. The organizations were drawn from countries around the world; sizes ranged from mid-sized companies to global corporations. Iknow selected the best case study in each of eight areas that highlighted a key ECM functionality relevant to GCRTA and compiled them into a report.

3. Requirements Collection. The purpose of this workstream was to understand the business and technical requirements associated with the ECM solution. Iknow conducted interviews with GCRTA executives to understand the business and technical requirements for the new ECM solution. Based on our analysis of the information discussed during the executive interviews, Iknow ranked the types of ECM functionality based on our assessment of relative importance. Next, working with the ECM Steering Committee, a numerical set of weightings were developed that reflected the importance of the desired ECM functionalities to the GCRTA. Iknow also spoke with the GCRTA IT Team to understand the current and future technical environment and its implications for the new ECM solution.

4. Content Audit. The purpose of this workstream was to provide a comprehensive inventory of GCRTA documents and files (i.e., content) that are both paper based and electronic. Iknow looked at both structured and unstructured data. Iknow looked at over 3.5 TB of data stored in over 300,000 directories. The key deliverable was an analysis of where GCRTA content is stored and how the data is likely to grow over time.

5. Solution Evaluation. Iknow reviewed over 400 commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) and open source products. After an initial screening, in which Iknow ascertained the stability of the company (looking at, for example, pending or recent M&A activity, presence in the United States, suitable product documentation in the English language), Iknow applied detailed screening criteria based on business and technical requirements. These requirements were established in consultation with the ECM Steering Committee and the IT Department. This resulted in a list of about 30 vendors.

Next, Iknow analyzed available pricing data from GSA Advantage (the federal government’s pricing catalog), Iknow’s proprietary database and from Iknow’s FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests for similar ECM product procurements. Finally, Iknow conducted in-depth conversations, product demonstration, benchmark testing and further product evaluations to ultimately narrow the list down to twelve potential solutions.

Iknow created an evaluation spreadsheet that looked at a number of criteria and weightings and ultimately determined that the software package that best suited GCRTA’s requirements was Alfresco’s Digital Business Platform.


Iknow identified many areas where ECM could provide significant and lasting benefits. To capture these benefits, Iknow recommended that the GCRTA embark on a three-year program to fully implement an enterprise-wide ECM system. GCRTA included ECM implementation in its 2019 budget.

Project Summary No.

Knowledge Management System

Preparing for a content and knowledge management system deployment

The Stamford Public School (SPS) District identified many inefficiencies in its internal business operations and wanted to improve the productivity of its executive and administrative staff. For example, work processes were highly paper intensive. A walk through the SPS’s Central Office revealed that piles of paper, paper forms, paper-based file folders, and physical filing cabinets were the norm.


The goals of this initial project were to conduct a knowledge management current-state assessment and to develop a set of recommendations for applying knowledge management principles and practices to SPS’s core business processes.

Iknow started the assignment by conducting interviews with most of the executive and senior administrative staff during the first month. Iknow prepared and used customized interview guides to structure the interviews and prepared detailed interview summaries to capture the information that was shared.

Following the interviews, Iknow performed a set of diagnostic analyses, leveraged its partnership with the APQC to access relevant knowledge management benchmarking and best practices resources, and drew upon its extensive knowledge of the KM and ECM software market to prepare the project deliverables.

Iknow prepared four primary deliverables:

  1. Various activities and events to raise KM awareness,
  2. KM current-state assessment,
  3. Technology recommendations for a KM system, and
  4. KM implementation roadmap.

Iknow conducted several activities and events to raise KM awareness. For example, Iknow researched and selected the top articles about KM initiatives in K-12 education from the APQC KM repository and distributed them to the SPS executive team. Iknow conducted a half-day seminar titled Learning Organizations and Education. Some of the specific topics covered in the workshop included Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline, covering team learning, shared vision, mental models, personal mastery, and systems thinking; organizational learning versus Learning Organizations; double-loop learning with leadership and cultural implications; and the APQC’s Master Planning for Innovation (MPI).

The second major project deliverable was the KM current-state assessment. The primary purpose of this assessment was to gather enough information so that the KM implementation roadmap could be developed from a solid base of facts. The KM current-state assessment also provided a baseline for measuring future improvements.

The third major project deliverable was recommendations on suitable technologies for the SPS KM system. The scope of work for the project did not include a detailed evaluation of knowledge management-related software products. Therefore, Iknow prepared this deliverable based on the findings from the current-state assessment and on the evaluations of software products that Iknow had completed during previous assignments.

Iknow recommended that SPS invest in four foundational software products, based on the business needs that surfaced during the current-state assessment. The four products were an enterprise content management (ECM) product, a business intelligence (BI) product, an image capture (scanning) and optical character recognition (OCR) product, and a commercial taxonomy product covering the K-12 education domain. The BI tool included data mining and discovery, data analytics, data visualization, and statistical analysis functionality.

The last major project deliverable was the KM implementation roadmap. Iknow recommended a roadmap that consisted of three parts:

  1. Define and adopt a vision statement for KM at SPS,
  2. Develop a KM strategy by leveraging the APQC KM Capability Maturity Model, and
  3. Implement a portfolio of projects (work streams) that will design and develop the foundation for SPS’s KM System. The foundation includes KM policy, governance, business process, and technology infrastructure.

Iknow’s recommendations were accepted by the Superintendent and were submitted to the Board of Education for approval and funding.

Project Summary No.

Development of Two Web Applications

Upgrading Capabilities for Child Protection Case Management and Incident Monitoring

A major intergovernmental organization, whose mission is to provide long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers, and its major implementing partners wanted to make significant extensions and improvements to their existing software applications in two key areas: case management for child protection and incident monitoring for serious violations against children in conflict zones. In addition, the organization wished to update the incident monitoring system for gender-based violence (GBV) and to integrate this with the new case management application.


Iknow followed an agile software development approach, consisting of the following main phases:

  • Requirements gathering, including detailed interviews with more than 50 internal staff and the staff of its implementing partners, and compilation of initial user stories
  • High-level solution design including data architecture, key interfaces, security, integration with existing IT infrastructure, and cloud-hosting strategy
  • Development of new functionality based on the user stories including weekly build and testing cycles
  • Data migration procedure development and testing
  • User training development and rollout
  • Three phases of field testing, including software fixes, as required.

The key deliverables were the two new web applications:

  • An upgraded case management system for child protection, including case management and monitoring for gender-based violence.
  • A new system for monitoring and reporting violations against children in conflict or other emergency situations.

Some of the additional deliverables included data migration from the old systems to the new, field testing, a training plan, and rollout to users.


The new web applications achieved the desired enhancements and were delivered on time and on budget.

Project Summary No.

Documenting Current-State Processes and Information Flows

Laying the Foundation for a Major Systems Upgrade

In November 2012, a major publishing and financial information company launched a multiyear effort to upgrade its Content Acquisition and Enrichment Platform. This platform is a suite of legacy software applications and services that automatically receives as many as one million articles per day from more than 1,700 content providers. The platform analyzes the articles to determine what they are about; extracts important names of people, names of companies, dates, locations, events, facts, sentiment, and other information; and appends this metadata to every article.


Iknow cataloged and documented all of the major components of the Content Acquisition & Enrichment Platform. The team prepared detailed text descriptions and IDEF0 functional models for 46 major system components.

Iknow approached the project by assigning its project team members to major functional areas of the platform. Each Iknow consultant conducted dozens of one-on-one and group interviews. Using a variety of elucidative techniques, the information was obtained from the individual technical experts, captured on paper, and then converted into electronic formats.

An example of an information flow map is shown in the exhibit below.

Example of an Information Flow Map

An example of an information flow map.


At the end of this documentation exercise, the company had a complete, accurate, and current description of their Content Acquisition & Enrichment Platform. The documentation incorporated standard component description templates and standard process flow-mapping conventions. The component descriptions document provided a common reference for describing the components and component interfaces for all the subsequent project phases. This documentation served as the “single source of truth” for the subsequent systems upgrades.

Project Summary No.

National Accuracy Clearinghouse Portal Pilot

Piloting a New System for Eligibility Integrity

In FY 2010, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) established the Partnership Fund for Program Integrity Innovation to provide funding for pilot projects to streamline administration and strengthen program integrity for Federal assistance programs administered in cooperation with the states.


The Iknow/LexisNexis solution consisted of the following four major components:

  1. Drupal™ Web Content Management System. The Drupal web content management system was used for all user interfaces and for all user-initiated functionality, such as allowing participating states to create reports, track usage, and perform single, batch, or XML searches for dual participation across the consortium states.
  2. High Performance Computing Cluster (HPCC) Technology. This proven, open-source technology has been used to build numerous contributory databases. The HPCC systems architecture incorporates data refining and data delivery clusters, as well as common middleware components, an external communications layer, client interfaces for end-user services and system management tools, and auxiliary components to support monitoring and to facilitate loading and storing of data from external sources.
  3. LexisNexis® Secure Data Cloud. This proven, secure, fully redundant environment hosts the NAC Portal. The LexisNexis Secure Data Cloud currently supports over 50 terabytes of data, billions of records, millions of daily transactions, and tens of thousands of active users.
  4. Support, Training and Maintenance. The project included comprehensive support, training, and maintenance of the NAC Portal.

One of the key aspects that contributed to the project’s success was a three-day requirements session in Atlanta. Representatives from all five State governments, USDA/FNS, and LexisNexis attended. Iknow led the identification, discussion, and documentation of detailed business and technical requirements. The final output served as the "source of truth" for the entire solution development effort.

In addition to requirements collection and overall solution design, Iknow was responsible for the complete portal design, development, and deployment. Drupal, an open source web content management (WCM) platform, was selected as the portal's primary technology.

Iknow's project-related activities included:

  • Application design and development,
  • User interface design and development,
  • Technical development project management,
  • Design and development of all reporting functionality,
  • Help documentation, online help, and help desk,
  • Training, and
  • Portal maintenance.

The new system supports state-level eligibility determinations and reduces fraud.

Project Summary No.

Electronic Document Management Gap Analysis

Helping the State of Michigan Define Its Document and Records Management Strategy

The State of Michigan was using a number of commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) and custom-developed software products for electronic document management (EDM). As the state continued to move from paper to electronic documents, it faced increasing complexity, a lack of standards, and growing cost from supporting multiple EDM systems.


Iknow conducted a comprehensive review of the “top 10” commercial products. Information was collected from vendors’ product literature, independent product evaluations by market research firms such as Gartner, interviews with State of Michigan staff about their experiences with the products, and Iknow’s proprietary product database.

As a first step, Iknow compiled a list of EDM platform features and attributes to serve as the basis for the cross-platform comparisons. This list was created based on interviews with Michigan staff to understand the desired product functionality for their specific use cases. Iknow then performed a comprehensive analysis of features and functionality for ten market-leading products and the three systems most widely used within the State. Iknow incorporated data from the manufacturers’ product literature, expert reviews, and interviews. We also used literature and expert sources to analyze long-term file format storage options and made recommendations on alternatives.

The key deliverables from this project were:

  • Analysis of features and functionality for the latest versions of the three primary EDM products currently in use within the State of Michigan’s departments and agencies.
  • Analysis of features and functionality for the “top 10” commercial EDM products.
  • Description of the functionality gaps between the existing products and the “top 10” commercial products and an evaluation of their importance.
  • Analysis and description of alternatives file formats for long-term document retention.

Iknow’s analysis was used by the State of Michigan’s IT and Records Management staff to help guide their selection and negotiations with the top EDM vendors. The analysis also helped frame the discussions about EDM products with the State of Michigan’s departments and agencies.

Project Summary No.

Ongoing Maintenance and Support

A critical element of any technology implementation is ongoing maintenance and support. This includes training of end users and system administrators, staffing of tiered support levels, the setup of user-feedback programs, and the rollout of relevant content, communications, and messaging. The initial 30 days following the KM system launch are the most critical for ensuring that the maintenance and support programs are in place and functional. Close coordination between the business, IT, HR, and KM functions is critical.

Business Value

Ongoing maintenance and support processes are essential for ensuring end-user adoption.


Iknow’s deliverables can include ongoing system maintenance, a system support strategy and plan, training plans, user-feedback programs, and a platform enhancement plan.

Solution Design, Development, Implementation, and Integration

Iknow defines KM solutions as technology deployments that involve one or more software products, data and application integration, and potentially custom software development.

Iknow offers a full range of solution design, development, implementation, and integration services that cover a wide variety of verticals and business domains. We can assist you across any and all stages of the software development lifecycle—from conceptualization, business analysis, and prototyping to development and deployment of a complete solution. Three of our solution services are:

Business Value

An aesthetically pleasing and functionally rich KM solution will lead to overall project success and to satisfied end users, thus helping to achieve the project’s goals and the desired financial returns.


Iknow’s deliverables include a detailed solution development plan and a fully designed, implemented, and tested knowledge management solution.

Technology Evaluation, Selection, and Pilots

Iknow is an expert at identifying, evaluating, and selecting technologies that enable your knowledge management strategy. We have experience evaluating the tradeoffs between the business and technical requirements, the current and planned technology infrastructure, financial budgets, and the seemingly unlimited claims made by software product vendors. We have in-depth experience implementing commercial software products, open-source products, and custom-developed applications in both on-premises and cloud-hosted environments.

Business Value

The technical elements are often the key enablers of a knowledge management solution. Selecting the right technology is often a key factor for success; selecting the wrong technology could cause the project to fail. Therefore, the evaluation and selection of the most appropriate technical solution can have a major influence in the initiative’s business impact.


Iknow’s deliverables typically include detailed technology recommendations and the supporting justification, which could include the results from a pilot or proof-of-concept. If we are engaged to help procure one or more software products, then our deliverables are fully negotiated contracts with one or more product vendors.

Technical Requirements Collection and Confirmation

Technology projects are complex. Technical requirements collection is initiated after the business need is first identified and can be done simultaneously with, or following, the collection and confirmation of the business requirements. Requirements refinement often continues after the project is approved.

Business Value

The technical requirements document is the foundation for supporting investments in KM-related software products. The quality, accuracy, clarity, and completeness of the technical requirements will directly impact the project’s overall level of effort, development time, and cost.


Iknow will produce a comprehensive technical requirements document that lists and explains the desired technical requirements. Our technical requirements documents follow industry best practices and formats for technical writing, illustration, and documentation.