Q&A: Andrew Manington, information process manager, London Heathrow Airport

This week's EMC Momentum 2012 user conference saw the storage giant overhaul its enterprise content management system, Documentum. Here, London Heathrow Airport tells us why it is continuing to invest in the product.

Storage giant EMC used its Momentum 2012 user conference in Vienna, Austria, this week to usher in a revamped version of its enterprise content management (ECM) system, Documentum.

The firm also showcased a number of enhancements for the product including a tool that will allow users to access files stored in the repository from any device via EMC's cloud-based file sharing service Syncplicity.

The changes should go some way to allaying end user fears the company might be planning to curtail its investment in the platform. A scenario denied by the vendor's CEO, Joe Tucci, at EMC World last May.

The team at London Heathrow Airport have been using Documentum for over a decade to manage the data associated with the construction and refurbishment projects that take place at the airport.

The thing that might cause us to move off Documentum is if EMC decided not to move the product forward.

During Momentum, IT Pro had the chance to sit down with the airport operator's information process manager, Andrew Manington, to see what he makes of the revamped product and find out why his organisation has stuck with it for so long.

What prompted London Heathrow Airport to adopt Documentum in the first place?

We bought Documentum to deliver Terminal 5. Typically with engineering projects of that size, you would have thousands of documents flying all over the place, so we brought it in to help manage that and, over the course of the project, we upgraded it twice.

At the end of [T5's construction]...we needed to support and maintain [the] archived data, so we kept it on and we did another upgrade [to Documentum 6.7] a year ago to refresh it all and keep us in support.

Everything, from the construction of a new toilet to the development of the new Terminal 2, now goes through Documentum. It's part of the contractors' contract. We don't accept disks or CDs.

The airport's finance and legal [departments] are starting to look at what we're doing [with a view] to introducing a similar system, not necessarily based around Documentum.

How have the team adapted to using a centralised document management system?

With any document management system, people are always very sceptical and see it as a bit onerous, mainly because you're putting structure to filing.

People are much happier writing a document and putting it on their shared drive and calling it "my document," and then we come along and tell them to do a whole lot of other stuff so we can find it later.

It's surprising when you look back at how bad businesses are at retaining and distributing information without really knowing what they're doing.

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