Documentum: Delivering Business Success Through Learning

Documentum, a provider of content management solutions, helps more than 3,000 large enterprises worldwide produce and maintain multimedia such as documents, Web pages and XML files through a sole shared […]

Documentum, a provider of content management solutions, helps more than 3,000 large enterprises worldwide produce and maintain multimedia such as documents, Web pages and XML files through a sole shared content platform and repository. The company, which has 1,300 employees in North America and the Pacific Rim of Asia, was acquired in October last year by its strategic partner EMC Corp. Documentum’s learning programs are divided into three units: training and development, which covers leadership and professional skills; field development, which ensures that employees in the field possess the necessary knowledge and abilities; and education services, which encompasses Documentum products. Of the three, education services is the only externally focused, revenue-generating learning offering.

Until recently, Documentum’s three education divisions were a loosely confederated group, joined by a common challenge to make optimal yet cost-conscious use of their resources. “We were a series of independent business units, each achieving our own needs–through one or another vendor with our own contracts–independent of the others,” said John Grubbs, manager of information systems at Documentum. “(Field services) had a practice of doing road shows. Their training initiatives were generally delivered by having internal training professionals travel throughout the Documentum organization globally, bringing the field into central locations and doing training on a quarterly basis in the form of boot camps or road shows. The other two organizations were primarily classroom-based. The training organization in HR could not scale because of their resources, and education services could not maintain consistent revenue goals. So each of them had their own challenge, but the classroom became a bottleneck for all of them.”

High costs and a lack of user participation plagued all departments, Grubbs said. In order to cope with these obstacles, Documentum undertook an initiative to modernize learning across the enterprise through new modalities such as e-learning and webcasts. Thus, all three departments were involved. “None of the three had ever collaborated before,” Grubbs said. However, this situation was irrevocably changed–for the better–once the company altered its content delivery practices. “It helped us collaborate internally,” said George Lin, Documentum’s chief learning officer. He added that the project helped the whole company consolidate and work together more effectively.

Another advantage of updating learning tools has been increased participation. “We’ve made time and place less of an issue,” Grubbs said. “It used to be about the logistics of getting all the people gathered into one place, and it was a physical location. There were costs associated with getting them there.” This made learning difficult for employees in the field, he added. “Twenty-four credit hours are required. You don’t get your bonus if you don’t get your 24 hours. It’s significant to say, ‘You have a training mandate. We expect you to do 24 hours of training every quarter.’ These people don’t sit at their desks. They’re mobile, they work long hours, and they have to be able to get that training any time, anywhere.” However, through various means of delivering educational content, on-the-move employees can achieve organizational training objectives. “The field is consuming 75 percent of their training through these tools,” Grubbs said. “They can stay current because we’ve brought the training to them.”

The recent transition has also affected Documentum’s bottom line. Through communications services provider Interwise, Documentum is able to migrate from outsourcing to insourcing its learning needs. “Using Interwise is a good cost-containment measure,” Lin said. “We have the option of doing outsourcing, or we can do insourcing. It makes sense to outsource to Interwise initially, and as the education needs grow, we have the option to insource. I think we have the best of both worlds.”

Additionally, Documentum has used Interwise to deliver on-demand learning to customers, thereby increasing revenue. “We had never used live-online as a delivery method for our customers,” Grubbs said. “Every business day, we have an option for our students to take a class through Interwise with the live instruction. We’re giving our customers more choices by offering them more opportunities to take our training when it’s convenient and affordable to them. This last quarter, 15 percent of our (training) revenue overall was achieved through that delivery channel. We’re headed in a direction where that figure could be potentially as much as 30 percent. That’s the arc that we’re on.”

Both cost savings and greater revenues from these measures have garnered praise from Documentum’s executive level. “My CFO is happy,” Lin said.

Brian Summerfield is associate editor for Chief Learning Officer magazine. He can be reached at

November 2004 Table of Contents