Thoughts on skills for ECM professionals

Ann Rockley recently posed a question to the CMPros listserv about the skills needed for a successful Enterprise Content Management professional. Here’s my reply:

To really drill down on this topic, you have to be specific about what the ECM professional is trying to do. As we’ve discussed ad nauseum in other threads, the definition of “ECM”, “CM”, and “DM”, etc., mean different things to different people and often are umbrella terms–particularly with ECM–for different types of activities that require different skillsets.

As someone who’s done a fair amount of recruiting in this space, I can tell you there are many ECM professionals who spend many years working only in very specific ECM niches with very little exposure to the entire ECM spectrum of solutions.

So, my thoughts to Ann are from the perspective of a technical ECM consultant working on large implementations of packaged ECM offerings, primarily around WCM and document-centric workflows, with moderate amounts of customization.

Soft skills

Change management. The ability to anticipate and smooth out issues related to the substantial amount of change created by the implementation of ECM initiatives is critical.

Communication/leadership. Another key skill is the ability to sell the value of the ECM initiative to executive leaders, build consensus, recruit a champion, etc. Communication skills also play a part in crafting, sharing, and selling a vision of ECM at all levels of an organization.

Business process analysis. Most ECM initiatives include workflow. An ECM professional needs to know how to understand and possibly improve the business processes related to the content being managed.

Subject area expertise. It helps if a professional understands one or more CM “sub-disciplines” or horizontals such as technical publishing, WCM, imaging, compliance, etc. There may also be vertical industry niches in areas such as pharmaceuticals, energy, manufacturing, health care, etc. that professionals may choose to specialize in.

Technical skills:

 – Java or .Net as well as one or more scripting languages
 – Application server platforms
 – Packaged content server offerings
 – Information architecture
 – Scanning hardware, storage solutions, etc.

Regarding academic curricula

As far as academic offerings, using what’s available today it seems like a computer science/library science double major would get you close. Obviously, a purpose-built curriculum incorporating relevant offerings from computer science, library science, and business administration would seem like the most optimal.