FirstDoc User Group 2011 – a look back at the conference – Part 4

Previous post: FirstDoc User Group 2011 – a look back at the conference – Part 3

EMC FirstDoc User Group FDUG

In Part 3 of the FDUG 2011 series, I described the afternoon session of the first day, which included CSC’s Cloud offering, their UI Strategy, Performance and the social event. In this post, I’ll cover the sessions that took place on the last day.


The morning started with feedback. The points compiled from yesterday User session were presented to CSC. These were graciously received, and even a few suggestions where made by CSC staff about ways they, themselves,  could address the concern.

SPX in use

Following the user session, there was a panel discussion involving three of CSC’s clients that had implemented SPX in their environment. For more on SPX, click here (PDF).

It seems that while there was a lot of interest in the technology, and implementing it, this came from a very small group of people. This group, however, were very interested in a number of things, and many questions were still being asked after the session had ended.


After the coffee break, another CSC customer gave a presentation on their journey from a manual system for managing their Trial Master Files (TMF) to an electronic system.

This was packed with some very interesting information, and it is always good to learn from others.

Total Clinical Solution

As discussed in earlier “Look back” posts, CSC are offering “Total Solutions”. The “Total Regulatory Solution” has been  discussed, and now we had a chance to learn more about the “Total Clinical Solution”. Fransiska Darma (who I had met the night before) gave this presentation.

Often, in clinical trials, the research is outsourced to a Clinical Research Organisation CRO), and involves collaboration between the CRO and the pharma company. In other word – moving documents between the external CRO, and the internal groups involved.

To achieve this requires being able to capture document, and somehow allow the external party to upload it to the pharma company’s EDMS. Further to this, to allow for an increase in reporting and tracking, documents need to have an expansive amount of metadata.

As with CSC’s Total Regulatory Solution, CSC are trying to leverage the fact that they now have a full range of products to implement these “Total” solutions. For their “Total Clinical Solution” this includes making use of FirstDoc (on Documentum), along with SPX (on SharePoint), as well as other tools that facilitate planning and managing, tracking and reporting, and the auditing process.


This was another customer presented session. It was very, very interesting. In this case, the customer had done an Usability Assessment of FirstDoc 6.1.

The presenter started off asking why, when we search for, review & order something on a site like Amazon, we can do it easily, without any real effort, while, when do something similar inside a business, a 3 hour training course is required.

The presenter followed this up with the statement that “solutions should not require user to change their way of working for the sake of the system.”

To assess their own system (based on FirstDoc 6.1) the customer did 2 assessments, each time where 28  normal employees (i.e. not specially trained testers), were asked to perform a specific task – review & approve a document.

Using a tool that allowed the user’s mouse movements to be tracked, along with a camera that allowed the user’s face to be seen, gave the testers a good insight into how a new user uses an interface.

Some of the findings were shared with us.

These include the fact that the steps required to accomplish the actual task were not obvious. We were shown a film of the mouse movements of one of the testers as they tried to work out the steps required to complete the task. At the same time, a small screen showed the user face and body. There was  a lot of “i know that feeling” laughter amongst the audience as we watched.

This particular customer had also created a mock-up of an improved design. This included less “clutter” and prompts that would guide the user.

On the one hand, having guidance can be very useful for users who are not familiar with the steps required for the task. And often, even after doing the task for a couple of times, if the same user did not repeat the actions for several months, then that same “learning time” is required. On the other hand, users who perform the task multiple times a day can get frustrated with guidance. In this case, what would be good is if the application had a “dummy mode” for new, or infrequent users, and an “expert mode” for those more “experienced” users. (This was something that was introduced into WebTop – a “simple” user interface, and a more detailed one.)

EMC & Record Management

Tim Marsh from EMC gave us a presentation on Records Management, and Information Governance, and the solutions and tools that EMC has in the area.


The last session of the day was presented by Peter Branstetter, a Senior Consultant from Arcondis.

Peter’s presentation was a very educational trip through validation. Starting with GAMP5 (Good Automated Manufacturing Process) he touched upon Risk-based approach,  and the GAMP V model. Included in the journey we got to see example of this in use.

CSC offer a Validation Package which contains all the components needed to meet compliance. This allows the customer to fill in the details as required.

This session generated some very interesting discussions. It seems that “what”, or “how much” is required to meet compliance can vary depending on who is making the company policy. As such, the answers to some of the “do I need to do x,y, or z” questions were often – “that depends on what your QA department wants.”

This was the last session of the conference – about a quarter of the participants had already left. However, this topic, whether we love it, or curse it, was something that a lot of people wanted to know about, and Peter definitely seemed knowledgeable about it.

End of Session

So – that was the end of the FirstDoc User Group – Europe Conference. For me, this was one of the best FDUG conference that I have been too. I got a lot of value out of the sessions.

The FirstDoc User Group conference is organised by the FDUG – Europe Steering Committee This is made up of 3 representative from CSC Life Sciences customer base.

They did a really good job this year!

“Selling” something new to the users – a case of how NOT to do it

selling user adoption

Once upon a time, in a far away land, I was present at a demo that a vendor was giving to the end users of a Document Management System. These are users that had worked with the native client (the end-user application) of the DMS for many years. They knew how to make it sing and dance.

The vendor had worked with this customer for many years, and there was a good relationship. The vendor knew how the customer’s business worked. They knew because they were also the vendor of the Document Management System in use, and had originally worked with the customer to set up the system to match the customer’s requirements.

So, there we were. In a conference room. A representative of the vendor stood up front. As well as that there were 4 other people from the vendor in the audience – a technical guy, a subject matter expert, some from the vendor’s product development, and a client manager.

We waited in anticipation. The vendor was going to show us new technology that would allow the user to access the Document Management System via SharePoint using a web part. Not only could we access the documents, we would be able to interact with the document, and attach it workflows, etc. And all this via SharePoint. This had great potential. It meant that we could create “work areas” customised to the users’ requirements. And the specialised web parts could be configured to returns documents that meet specific criteria.

One thing I need to point out is that the users were not familiar with SharePoint, and certainly not with the concept of web parts. This was new technology for them.

The vendor’s representative coughed. Everyone went quite. Then the representative (who required no introduction as everyone had worked with him at one stage, or another) explained that the technical guy had created a  working system that he would use to introduce the new technology. He hit  a button on his laptop, and the overhead screen in the room flashed to life.

And what did we see. The vendor had created a SharePoint site, and on it were more than 10 web parts. In two columns. Each showing objects from the Document Management System in various forms (one web part showed an inbox showing workflow tasks, another was a single-box search web part, one had an extended search facility showing, one was for browsing a tree structure of folders, others had specific queries behind them.

The vendor carried on talking about what a web part is, and what each web part did, and, the eyes of the users started glazing over. It was too much for them. This was new technology, and a new way of working. What the vendor showed was too much at the same time. The users were confused. And you could tell by the body language that the users were against what  the vendor was telling them.

During the presentation, the vendor would be describing a specific web part and the functionality that it provided.

Several of the more entrenched users (those who had been doing their job since day one, and were damned good at it) would make comments like “This is not how we do it.”, or “We do things differently here.”

I cringed as the presentation died a quick death. The vendor had not planned properly for this audience. Even the managers in the audience were confused by what was being shown. After the everyone had left I approached the vendor, and got into a discussion with him about what had happened. After much analysis, the following was agreed:

  • The vendor hadn’t realized that the technology was so confusing. He works with it every day, and, for him, it was second nature. He had not looked at it from the perspective of his audience.
  • Too much was presented at the same time. The vendor should have chosen three web parts that provide the base functionality that matched what the users do on a daily basis. Then, once that had been explained, the other web parts could have been introduced.
  • There was no “education” done first. The vendor could have started with a explanation of what the new technology was and how SharePoint and web parts worked.

These are all basic things. New ways of doing things, new technologies need to be introduced gently. The users need to be held by the hand as they are shown. And then step by step. The more the users feel comfortable with something he easier it is to take them to the next step, and the more open they are to making suggestions of their own. This allows them to think innovatively.

But what had the vendor done? Strapped everyone in to their stools and bombarded their senses with new, and different concepts? And at all at the same time?

What was disappointing was that the vendor was no stranger to the customer. As I mentioned above the customer company and the vendor company had worked together for years. The vendor knew what the users did.They knew what the users knew.

The vendor left promising to do a better job next time. That they would definitely take the softly, softly approach. And because they did have a relationship with the customer, that was OK. However, know they had the extra burden of having to re-convince an already resistant audience.

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Case Study – A social Content Management system

social Content Management system

A social Content Management system

What is a social software system?.  In this post, I discuss this very question and look at a fictional company to determine whether their Content Management system is a social one,or not.

7 Social Software Elements

Seven Social Software Elements

In a 2007 post, Gene Smith defines seven social software elements.

These were:

  • Identity – a way of uniquely identifying people in the system
  • Presence – a way of knowing who is online, available or otherwise nearby
  • Relationships – a way of describing how two users in the system are related (e.g. in Flickr, people can be contacts, friends of family)
  • Conversations – a way of talking to other people through the system
  • Groups – a way of forming communities of interest
  • Reputation – a way of knowing the status of other people in the system (who’s a good citizen? who can be trusted?)
  • Sharing – a way of sharing things that are meaningful to participants (like photos or videos)

Each social software system had three or more of these elements (but not necessarily all of the elements).

Case Study - A Social CMS

Case Study

Using Gene’s list, I decided to do a case study where I analyse a fictional document management system and see how it measures up.

The Company: Wet Cleaver Drywear

Background: Wet Cleaver Dry Goods designs and manufactures ready-to-wear clothing for farmers. This includes rainwear, winter clothing, informal dress clothing, hats, gloves, etc.

It has factories in three different countries. It uses an Oracle-based Content Management system to store and manage, clothing designs, as well as operating procedures, sales information, customer feedback, and press releases, etc. Designs and patterns are sensitive and need to be tracked. Operating Procedures need to follow a Review process before being available for use. Press Releases need to be routed to the appropriate managers for sign-off before being released, and customer feedback has to be routed to the appropriate department heads. Security is applied to the documents ensuring that they can only be edited by members of each particular department. Each user has an Active Directory account, and a matching account in the CMS. Exchange is used for e-mails.

To provide users with a more “accessible” interface, SharePoint has been used to create a Portal. Each department has its own site which is populated with special web parts that provide access to the documents in the Oracle-based Content Management system, as well as its native functions.

Each web site has been designed by the IT department, based on discussion with the end-users to meet the “requirements” the department the site is intended for. SharePoint groups have been created for each department and populated with the users’ active directory accounts. Each site is secured so that only members of each department can access the related site, and, to ensure that a consistent look-and-feel is maintained, as well as to reduce support issues, the users do not have the right to create new sites themselves, or to customise the sites (“My Sites”). If users from different departments need to work on a document together, a SharePoint site is created along with a SharePoint document library. The required documents are placed in the document library by the CMS administrators, and specific users are granted access to the site. Further to this, a SharePoint Search Center has been created, and with the use of a special protocol handler, is able to index the contents of the oracle-based CMS. Users, however, are only able to find documents that they have rights to.

A separate SharePoint site has been set up to store FAQs, lists of who is in each department, etc.

Analysis: Does this system have three, or more (or any) of the elements that Gene listed? Let’s have a look…

  • Identity – In this system, each user needs to be logged into the network to access the Portal. Pass-through authentication is used. Thus, each user can be uniquely identified.
  • Presence – Although the user can see that they are logged on (their username is displayed on the screen), there is no way to know who else is logged into the system at the same time.
  • Relationships – The Portal has been designed to provide a slightly easier way of performing the tasks that would normally take place in the CMS. That is the processing of documents. As mentioned above, there is a separate site that lists who is in each department.
  • Conversations – When users need to communicate with each other they use Exchange. This is, however, separate from the CMS/Portal.
  • Groups – The Portal is strictly controlled. IT can create special sites that meet specific requirements, and then users are granted access on an as-needed basis. The CMS administrators export files out of the CMS into the site’s document library where the users can work on them. While this can be considered as a type of community forming, the fact that it is strictly controlled, and not an ad-hoc process negates this.
  • Reputation – Apart from the fact that a list is maintained (on a separate site) of who works in each department, and their positions, there is no way to determine the “reputation” of a particular user (e.g. the person who has created the most operating procedures, or has provided the most valuable feedback during a review process).
  • Sharing – The only sharing that occurs is the routing of documents. This is not done in an ad hoc fashion but is defined by business rules, and pre-defined workflows. As such, there is no sharing.

Social Software Honeycomb

Something else that Gene had done in his post was to create a social software honeycomb.

Each element is represented by a hexagon. Each hexagon is shaded depending on whether the particular system supported the social element.

Looking at the Document Management system of Wet Cleaver Dry Goods, the honeycomb would look like this:

Click on the image to tweet it

Clearly this system does not contain three, or more, of Gene’s social elements.


  • Identity – a way of uniquely identifying people in the system
  • Presence – a way of knowing who is online, available or otherwise nearby
  • Relationships – a way of describing how two users in the system are related (e.g. in Flickr, people can be contacts, friends of family)
  • Conversations – a way of talking to other people through the system
  • Groups – a way of forming communities of interest
  • Reputation – a way of knowing the status of other people in the system (who’s a good citizen? who can be trusted?)
  • Sharing – a way of sharing things that are meaningful to participants (like photos or videos

* Identity – a way of uniquely identifying people in the system

* Presence – a way of knowing who is online, available or otherwise nearby

* Relationships – a way of describing how two users in the system are related (e.g. in Flickr, people can be contacts, friends of family)

* Conversations – a way of talking to other people through the system

* Groups – a way of forming communities of interest

* Reputation – a way of knowing the status of other people in the system (who’s a good citizen? who can be trusted?)

* Sharing – a way of sharing things that are meaningful to participants (like photos or videos)

  • )
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