Having worked with document management (DM) type solutions for more than 15 years I have seen my share of successes and failures. I'm trying to focus on the positive, so... what makes a DM implementation successful? I've netted the answer down to five points. I should say, that these five points are predicated on the selection of viable DM software, which are innumerable.
One: Follow the KISS principle (at least to start)
While it's nice to dream of an all-encompassing, one size fits all enterprise solution for document management you may be setting yourself up for failure from the outset. So pick a focus area, think about the larger architectural picture, but start with something that has reasonable scope and is entirely manageable.
Two: Strong Sponsorship
DM projects tend, over time, to have tentacles that touch many parts of an enterprise. From the start it's important to have executive buy-in and active support. Support from the top will give you the leverage you need to be successful in getting your DM solution deployed and (more importantly) used!
Three: Time to Results
Return on Investment, whether for a DM solution or a piece of capital equipment, is an important factor in business decisions. Delivering observable, positive results in the shortest time possible is an important factor in the success deployment of document management. The success of an initial prototype or deployment will in part determine the future life of your DM project.
Four: Deliver what you Promise
Clearly communicate scope, features, and timelines - then stick to it! Enough said.
Five: Solution Simplicity
The solution you buy/build/customize/integrate needs to be able to mold to the business rather than re-engineering all business processes to meet the needs of the software. Furthermore, the user interface/user experience needs to match the needs of the business process. That is, if the business process for an insurance adjuster is taking pictures in the field, tagging them and uploading them into DM, then the UI should be dead simple - no need for a full DM user interface.
From what I have observed, delivering complex, feature-laden user interfaces, and trying to make it fit for everyone, just doesn't work for most companies. The solution gets ignored, underused, or worse, misused. In my opinion, the provisioning of simplified user experience that matches business process holds significant weight in the success/failure curve for DM projects.