Many organizations are struggling because their paperless (ECM) software vendor is having problems or was acquired. For example, Alchemy was once an industry leader but for various reasons, it was struggling and was acquired by Open Text. Users were forced to convert to another Open Text product. This was a very expensive proposition for Alchemy users.
But, this is not an isolated incident. Documentum was acquired for the 2nd time by Open Text. Westbrook and Fortis were acquired by Docuware. Highland (Onbase) has acquired ten ECM companies in the past eight years. Lexmark acquires Perceptive Software, Kofax, and eight other products. Open Text has acquired over 40 products including EDocs.
If you were a user of any of these acquired products you were probably told that the product you were using was no longer supported and that you would have to upgrade to another product. This would require a conversion of your existing data and documents. Plus your users would have to learn the new product.
All is not rosy for the user base of the acquiring company. Often, acquiring companies take portions of the software they acquired and try to fit it into their flagship product. This sometimes works but often, it results in a non-cohesive product that is often very buggy.
Partial List of Mergers and Acquisitions in the paperless (ECM) industry
Allen Systems Group
June 2007 acquired Mobius
Oct 2003 acquired Documentum
January 2017 acquired docSTAR
Sept 2015 acquired Intialio
September 2018 acquired SpringCM
September 2013 acquired Westbrook Technologies, developer of Fortis and FortisBlue software, Fortis end of life is scheduled for December 31, 2018.
Documentum: (acquired by EMC and later OpenText)
December 2001 acquired Bulldog
January 2002 acquired Boxcar
October 2002 acquired eRoom
October 2002 acquired TrueArc
March 2004 acquired askOnce
October 2005 acquired Acartus
October 2005 acquired Captiva Software
March 2006 acquired Authentica
June 2006 acquired ProActivity,
July 2007 acquired X-Hive
December 2007 acquired Document Sciences
November 2011 announced EMC signed an exclusive licensing agreement with C6
Hyland Software / OnBase: (purchased by Thoma Bravo a Private Equity Firm)
July 2017 acquired Perceptive – ImageNow from Lexmark (Perceptive’s 2nd acquisition), Perceptive Intelligent Capture (formerly Brainware), Acuo VNA, PACSgear, Claron, Nolij, Saperion, Pallas Athena, ISYS and Twistage
May 9, 2016 acquired AcroSoft
June 1, 2014: CAYLX
Oct. 13, 2015, acquired LawLogix
Feb. 28, 2013 acquired AnyDoc Software
Dec. 17, 2012 acquired Enterprise Consulting Partners ECP
August 29, 2012 acquired SIRE Technologies
September 24, 2010 acquired Computer Systems Company, Inc. (dba The CSC Group )
September 1, 2010 acquired Hershey Systems USA, and its product, Singularity
July 2009 acquired Valco Data Systems and it product, MEDITECH
March 1, 2009 acquired WebHealth
July 1, 2008 acquired Liberty Information Management Systems and its product, LibertyNet
September 1, 2006 acquired Matrix Imaging
October 2011 acquired Autonomy which is a disaster, results in lawsuit and indictment
2006 acquisition of FileNet
April 2014 acquired docTrackr
Feb 2017 acquired Perceptive Software (later acquired by Hyland)
May 2015 acquired Kofax
Aug 2013 acquired Saperion
August 2017 acquired Apprento
February 2017 acquired StreamDesign
July 016 Acquired 3D Content Management Software Company, InEvo
Dec 24, 2019 acquires Carbonite, Inc.
Jan 31, 2019 acquires Catalyst Repository Systems, Inc.
Dec 17, 2018 acquired Liaison Technologies
Oct 31, 2018 acquired Acquire Liaison Technologies
Feb 2018 acquired Hightail
Sept 2017 acquired Guidance Software
July 2017 acquired Covisint
Jan 2017 acquired Documentum from Dell (this is the second time Documentum has been acquired)
Aug 2016 acquired Customer Communications Management from HP
June 2016 acquired Recommind, Inc.
May 2016 acquired ANX.
Nov 2015 acquired Daegis Inc.
Jan 2015 acquired Actuate Corporation
Jan 2014 acquire GXS
May 2012 acquired EasyLink
Sept 2011 acquired Operitel
July 2011 acquired Global 360
Feb 2011 acquired Metastorm
Oct 2010 acquired StreamServe
Apr 2010 acquired Burntsand Inc.
Feb 2010 acquired Nstein Technologies
July 2009 Vignette Acquisition
May 2008 acquired Vignette
Oct 2008 acquired Captaris and its product Alchemy (its second time)
July 2008 acquired Media Management Division of Corbis
July 2008 acquired Division of Spicer Corporation
Oct 2006 acquired Hummingbird
Dec 2004 Enters Into Domination Agreement With IXOS
Aug 2004 Vista Plus Product Suite from Quest Software
Oct 2003 Acquired 75% Interest in Gauss
Nov 2002 Centrinity
Dec 2001 Accelio Corporation
November 2006, acquired Minnesota-based enterprise content management (ECM) vendor Stellent
PSIGEN Software, Inc;
January 19, 2017, acquired Cabinet Document Management Solutions
Thoma Bravo (a Private Equity Firm):
July 2007 acquired Hyland Software /On-Base
Thomas H. Lee Partners:
February 2018 acquired Alfresco Software
How to select an ECM or Document management system.
Here are a few questions that may help you pick a good ECM or paperless solution:
- How many years have they been in business?
- How many times a year do they release new software?
- How many updates or patches do they release each year?
- Have they added new, interesting features or technologies in their recent releases?
- Is their customer base growing? By what percentage each year?
- Is the size of the company growing? By what percentage each year?
- Do they have a strong management team that has been with the company for a while?
- Is the product scalable? What is the largest organization that uses the product? What is the size of the average company that uses this ECM?
- Does it use the Microsoft SQL database?
- Are they considered to be a leader in the industry?
- Do you have local user groups?
- How are they rated by industry experts like Gartner, Forrester Research, IDC, and Nucleus Research? Expert’s reviews of ECM software systems
You might also search the internet and news for additional information about the company such as:
- Has this company ever been acquired? Is there any sense that there may be an impending acquisition?
- What is being said about this company on internet forums and user reviews?
Rules of Thumb when picking an ECM or Document Management Software
1. Pick a system that you can grow into.
Do not pick a system that takes 80% of its capabilities to meet your current needs. I suggest that you find a system that meets your current needs and still is using only 20-40% of the document management software’s capability. This gives you room to grow as your needs grow. And they will. I have helped so many people upgrade their document management solution to Laserfiche because the solution they picked did not meet their needs any longer. This becomes expensive because we have to migrate all of their documents to Laserfiche and retrain their users. They would have been much better off picking a solution that they could have grown into.
2. Pick an ECM product that has been around for a long time.
It is tempting to pick a document management software that is new. It may seem like it is a great value, the price is much lower than the rest. And it has a lot of new features that the stable ECM vendors don’t have. Picking a new ECM software or vendor is a risky proposition. According to the Small Business Administration, 50% of startup companies fail in the first five years. SBA Report on Business Failure Rates
3. Don’t pick a Document Management System that is owned by a hardware company.
I don’t recommend that you pick an ECM software that is owned by a company that primarily manufactures hardware products. Developing and maintaining software products are very different than developing and maintaining hardware products. I have seen very few hardware companies that have successful document management software products. Even some of the largest and most profitable hardware companies in the world have failed or produced a mediocre ECM product.
4. Don’t pick a company that acquires companies with competing Document Management products.
There a lot of ECM companies that use the acquisition to grow their customer base. The reason I don’t think they are the best vendor for you is that they spend a lot of their energy migrating users from the acquired software systems to their product. Rather than developing features that will attract new clients and benefit the existing ones. Another thing that they do is try to take some of the code of acquired software and bolt it on to their product. This usually results in a poor solution with potentially lots of bugs.
5. Don’t pick an ECM software solution that has been acquired by another company.
Another thing I do not recommend is picking a Document Management System that has been acquired by another company. This often signals the doom of that product. Key staff in development and support do not make the transition to the new corporate culture. Often, the new company has plans to migrate the users to another software they own or they have a new vision for the software that doesn’t quite fit with the needs of the customer base.
6. Don’t pick an ECM software vendor owned by an equity firm.
I think you should consider who owns an ECM company before you buy the product. And if it is an equity firm, I would keep looking. Often, an equity firm will buy a company often in some kind of stressful situation and look at turning it around to sell for a profit. In my experience, most equity firms don’t keep an investment for much more than five years. And in those five years, many of the key employees leave because working for a company owned by an equity firm is often quite a change in corporate culture. I know this first hand because I worked for a company that was acquired.
7. Pick an ECM software vendor that is NOT on Gartner list
I think you should primarily consider only ECM vendors that the industry experts watch and list in their annual reports.
8. Look at the Gartner Peer Review Ratings
Every year Gartner asks hundreds of users to rate the ECM software they use. (Gartner has a new name for the best ECM systems on the market, they call them Content Services Platforms (CSP). This is a good source to find out how good a particular document management software is by the people that actually use them. Gartner Peer Insights to ECM software
Seven Ingredients of a successful ECM software project
A number of years ago I created a video that addresses the topic of picking and implementing a successful document management system. You may find some of the suggestions helpful in your selection of a stable ECM solution.
The ECM Product I Recommend
The product I recommend is Laserfiche. Laserfiche has been in business for over 30 years and has not been acquired and has not made any acquisitions. It has a growing base of customers and a strong stable leadership team. This makes Laserfiche a great ECM vendor for you now and in the future. So, you don’t need to use the rock-paper-scissors method for picking a paperless solution. You can find out more about Laserfiche here: Laserfiche ECM
7 reasons I recommend Laserfiche
- Has never been acquired.
- It does not acquire competing companies and force users to migrate to Laserfiche to grow their user base.
- It does not acquire companies to get their technology and then cobble the two software together. They have developed their system from the ground up.
- They have been in business since 1987 and their product, Laserfiche was introduced in 1993.
- They are privately owned.
- They are on this list of top ECM systems watched and analyzed by industry experts like Gartner, Forrester, IDC, Info Tech, and Nucleus Research. And it rates well in the annual reports.
- It is also very powerful yet very easy to use.
I hope that if you are in the situation that you are needing to select an ECM system that you have the tools and knowledge you need to research and find a long term, stable ECM solution. And you don’t have to resort to the Rock, Paper, Scissors selection method.
If you have a question feel free to reach out to me at 612-382-4069 (cell) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I would love to answer your questions.