Join the revolution. Shake things up. Make things happen.
The AIIM Conference 2013 is ONLY for those who are ready to think strategically about information management on a massive scale; to embrace the stewardship, optimization, and application of their enterprise information assets. We sold out early in 2012, so make sure you register now – New Orleans, March 20-22.
Our highly-interactive sessions are designed to build these skills around six revolutionary imperatives:
- Make everything mobile: Redefine content delivery and process automation to take advantage of mobile devices and mobile workforces.
- Digitize processes: Drive paper out of processes and automate process flows.
- Make the business social: Integrate social technologies into processes rather than create standalone social networks.
- Automate information governance: Acknowledge that paper-based records paradigms no longer work and focus on automating governance and disposition.
- Mine big content: Find insights and value in massive aggregations of unstructured information.
- Commit to the cloud: Break down monolithic “enterprise” solutions into more “app like” solutions that can be deployed quickly independent of platform and in the cloud.
Join the revolution. Shake things up. Make things happen.
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Why You Need an Information Strategy
For many years, organizations have survived by "winging it" when it comes to information management.
"Yes, we need a strategy for managing the financial assets of the organization, so we'll invest in an accounting system."
"Yes, we need a strategy for managing the physical assets and their associated data, so we'll put in place an ERP system."
"Yes, our human assets are important, so we'll spend money on an HR system."
But a strategy for managing information? Treat our information assets with the same rigor and discipline as we do our money, inventories, and people? OK, maybe we'll automate a specific process. But in terms of getting our arms around the legendary "80% of the information in our organization that is unstructured," we'll get to that sometime, someday, thank you very much.
The sheer quantity of information that is descending upon our organizations is rapidly creating a set of circumstances in which we will not longer be able to just "wing it." The strategic imperative to manage information effectively will soon become irreversible -- with devastating consequences for those who assume it is otherwise.
8 Factors to Consider in Creating an Information Management Strategy: How Your Organization Can Improve Efficiency, Increase Productivity, and Reduce Risk
1 -- Don't underestimate the importance of your platform choices: The choices you make have a long tail.
The good news is that there are a lot of content and document options out there. The bad news is that there are a lot of content and document options out there.
The elephant in the room in a lot of ECM discussions is SharePoint. Since its launch, SharePoint 2007 has demonstrated phenomenal growth. Recent AIIM surveys have indicated adoption rates of over 65% across multiple geographical regions and different verticals, and Microsoft is positioning SharePoint as the “Information Operating System” for organizations. It seems like all organizations using Microsoft products will over the next few years implement SharePoint in some fashion, and Microsoft has now started to create awareness around SharePoint 2010.
In many ways, "SharePoint" has become somewhat of a noun in the ECM space (like "Kleenex" for tissues or "Xerox" for copying), describing for many end users a cluster of functionality that begins as a replacement for shared drives for Office documents and a collaboration platform and extends into other more complex areas as the platform spreads. Even competitors to SharePoint in the collaboration space tend to increasingly use SharePoint as the reference point, essentially saying, "We can do 'SharePoint-y things, but in a different infrastructure."
A number of the more traditional ECM players who are more focused on transactional content and the mission critical processes associated with this content tend to position their capabilities as the "stuff" that SharePoint does not do out of the box. All of this is changing the ECM industry since ECM implementations now have to add value to SharePoint. Most analysts believe that SharePoint 2010 will consolidate the ECM repository business. A great deal of collaboration-driven and Office application content in organizations will be housed in SharePoint repositories.
We are also seeing a growing interest in open source content solutions. This is particularly evident in Europe (witness the European Commission white paper on open source solutions), but is increasingly the case in the United States (witness the recent decision to host the White House site on Drupal). Tom O'Reilly offered these comments on the implications of the Drupal decision: “While open source is already widespread throughout the government, its adoption by the White House will almost certainly give permission for much wider uptake…There are huge opportunities for open source, web 2.0, and new media companies in government, but there are also challenges reaching that market." Open source companies seeking to penetrate the ECM space include (but are not limited to) Alfresco, KnowledgeTree, Nuxeo and Plone. There are also a number of open source companies focusing on the WCM and E 2.0 space, most notably Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress. In addition, a number of SaaS solutions have emerged as alternatives to traditional in-house software (e.g., SpringCM and Crownpeak).
The more "traditional" ECM players (e.g., IBM, Oracle, EMC, Hyland, OpenText) increasingly focus their value on managing a continuum of content that often includes -- but is not limited to -- information in SharePoint repositories. They focus their robust capabilities on mission critical content intensive processes, imaging and capture, and records management and e-discovery, areas that are still relatively immature within SharePoint. These solutions typically entered organizations within a single department and then spread.
Early implementations were focused on the needs of document-intensive process owners and specialists rather than a broad base of general knowledge workers. These companies focus on their ability to manage content across a variety of repositories and forms (including SharePoint content) and across the full continuum of retention and records requirements. The larger of these companies (and Microsoft as well) are increasingly focused on the blurring lines between structured and unstructured information and the desire of users to manage all of this content and information, regardless if its type. The smaller ECM companies are increasingly focused on departmental and process specific document management and building their value on their low cost, ease of adoption, and domain expertise.
In the absence of an information management strategy, most organizations arrive at what passes for a strategy simply by aggregating their past sins. Organizations typically have a variety of technologies and tools in place, often the result of decisions made years ago and often made within individual departments.
Simply ripping out this accumulated infrastructure is usually not an option. However, there are some hard questions that organizations should ask in terms integrating and leveraging what they have and driving future decisions against a strategy.
So how does an end user sort through the wide variety of platform options? We would suggest asking a few questions:
- How comfortable are you with reliance on a particular vendor "stack?"
- How does your organization value the various types of functionality normally associated with an ECM solution? This would include such areas as: portals, collaboration, search, business processes, basic document management, web content management, imaging and capture, records management, and e-mail management.
- How well does each platform perform the core functions that are MOST important to your organization?
- How much is out of the box and how much is through custom integration?
- In business terms, what are you really trying to accomplish (both short and long term)?
- How are the various solutions you are considering addressing CMIS? CMIS is an emerging standard that many feel will open the content world in the same way that SQL opened the database world.
2 -- A good starting point: Focus on paper.
One of the first things that needs to be addressed in any content management initiative is paper. A few data points to consider:
- If the U.S. cut its office paper use by roughly 10 percent or 540,000 tons, greenhouse gas emissions would fall by 1.6 million tons — equivalent to taking 280,000 cars off the road for a year.
- There are over 4 trillion paper documents in the U.S., growing at a rate of 22% per year.
- For 56% of organizations, the volume of paper records is increasing.
- The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year and wastes about 1,410 of these pages.
- With the average cost of each wasted page being about six cents, a company with 500 employees could be spending $42,000 per year on wasted prints.
There is a very compelling environmental case that can be made for reducing paper use through the digitization of key business processes. But a key element for organizations to consider is that the economic case for reducing paper use is just as compelling. Among the benefits:
- Direct and immediate cost savings on paper and shipping.
- Increased process effectiveness and efficiency.
- The potential to fully integrate field staff and offices into the information capabilities of the organization rather than relying on daily overnight mail.
- Reduced real estate costs through the elimination of filing.
- Improved morale as an integrated information infrastructure allows for greater flexibility in working arrangements.
- Reduced off-site storage as the sheer volume of what needs to be physically preserved declines.
Of course, scanning a document to an image is only half of the equation. The real process impact comes from capturing the information that resides within an image and converting this into data and information to power a business process. Capture technologies are a sort of force multiplier when it comes to content and document management. For example, integration of bar codes into the scanning process greatly accelerates both the speed and quality of the scanning process itself. Recognition technologies and forms technologies automate the capture of data and enhance the streamlining and automation of core processes.
So a key question to ask in building your information strategy is how well integrated are scanning and capture capabilities into the platform(s) you are considering. For the foreseeable future, the ability to easily digest and digitize analog content (i.e. paper) into your ECM platform(s) will be a critical element in your success. Paper is not going away.
Tied to this question of paper and processes is all the paper and files you have in offsite storage. This likely isn't going away either. Is there a way to better leverage the information in off-site storage. Is there a strategy in place to digitize the part of this information that is critical to ongoing processes? What is your strategy for managing the discovery implications of this information?
3 -- Collaboration without structure is a waste of time.
Your people are constantly connected. Your people expect instant connectivity. They expect to work the same way sitting on a beach as they do in the office. Even the smallest of organizations increasingly work cooperatively on projects and documents, this is just as likely to occur from a coffee shop or home as it is from a formal office setting. Even if they have absolutely no malice in their hearts, employees are likely to have organizational documents and information on their phones and on their laptops and on their home computers. As our employees reach outside the firewall to access critical expertise, networks, content, and markets -- and as we simultaneously require 365/7/24 availability -- the lines between what is "organizational" and "personal" become somewhat mindless.
Inside the firewall, there is a growing frustration with email as the primary tool that we use for collaboration. Many organizations are in the process of deploying an entirely new set of extraordinarily powerful collaboration and content creation tools -- often with no thought to how all this eventually add up. How do you move from what passes for collaboration in most organizations -- endlessly sending around massive and uncoordinated attachments via email -- to a more productive approach. The tools are out there to start to create a much more robust framework for collaboration.
The New York Times recently ran an article about the wave of SharePoint implementations that are sweeping across corporate America. Most articles about Microsoft Office SharePoint Services (MOSS) point out that its $1 billion in first year sales make it one of the most successful software launches in history. Recent articles point to 130 million SharePoint licenses out there. Of course, SharePoint is only part of the drive to place corporate-hardened collaboration and social media tools on the desktop. In addition to SharePoint, other products like IBM's Quickr and EMC's CenterStage and Open Text's LiveLink and Alfresco Share and soon the Google Wave are sweeping through organizations, placing extraordinarily powerful collaboration and content creation tools in the hands of individual knowledge workers and project teams.
Social media both inside and outside the organization is becoming mainstream, creating an entirely new set of tipping point imperatives. Ask any young person what their most important applications are and they are likely to say things like Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn and YouTube and Google Docs and Flickr and a feed reader. How will you bring these kinds of tools into the enterprise? Will you take the misguided IT-centric approach that many organizations take -- "we just don't allow our people to use these; we block them" - or will you take the time to think through when and how and under what terms does use of these tools make sense. In the early days of e-mail and then again in the early days of internet access, many organizations took the posture of blocking access to these tools for many employees. It did not work then and it won't work now.
A key part of creating an information management strategy for the next decade is thinking through what you are trying to do with all this collaborative capability, how it will fit together with the other information systems in your organization, how you will find stuff across these systems, and how you will eventually get rid of everything that you don't need to keep. Understanding how your platform choices impact your ability to seamlessly manage content across a continuum of retention requirements -- from ad hoc social content to formal records -- is critical to your success.
4 -- The need for control is not going away.
As the complexity of the information management problem increases, so too do the risks of making mistakes. Organizations face a cascading set of information management compliance requirements defined in global, national, state, local, and industry terms. Managing these in manual terms has become cost prohibitive -- as well as extremely risky -- for many organizations.
On top of these, organizations must deal with very substantial risks associated with e-discovery. As the volume of information continues to expand exponentially, so too do the legal costs associated with discovery -- unless technology is applied to the process.
In addition to compliance and litigation risks of information mismanagement, there are a host of additional risks on a day to day basis that are often under-appreciated. "We didn't keep it." "It was on the disk that crashed." "Hey, that's not my signature!" "Where is it?" "The system is down!" It is only by adopting a holistic risk management mindset to information management (similar to the one you might take with managing finances) that organizations can fully appreciate the risks of mismanaging information.
5 -- In a tight economy, it all comes down to process efficiency and automation.
Compared to recent years, cost saving has taken a clear lead over compliance as the main business driver for investments in document and records management. Tracking the most significant business drivers over a number of years shows regulatory control and associated compliance risk peaking in 2007 with a fall back in the last two years to cost savings. This is obviously due to the economic downturn - which was in part caused by insufficient regulatory control.
Processes are the glue that ties organizations together. Documents -- especially paper documents -- are the glue that ties organizational processes in knots. It is simpler to herd cats than to try to automate processes without automating the information flow associated with those processes. Organizations need to think through the two types of processes in their organization and understand how their information strategy either facilitates or frustrates these policies.
The first type of process is those that are specific to your particular industry. If you are a bank, account opening and check processing and credit approvals are likely to be mission critical. If you are a hospital, health records management and dealing with RAC audits are core processes. If you are a college, student records and application processing are core processes. In addition to these industry specific processes are a host of processes that are endemic to any organization. Invoice processing. Contract management. Human resource processing. Accounts payable. These kinds of applications are often thought of a "horizontal verticals" because they are defined in process terms, but applicable to any organization. Many organizations first test the waters of document and content management by automating these kinds of processes.
Many organizations survived the first wave of the information revolution by assembling a patchwork quilt of technology and manual systems. The result of this patchwork approach is a host of process inefficiencies:
- It costs $20 to file a document, $120 to find a misfiled document, and $220 to reproduce a lost document.
- 7.5 percent of all documents get lost; 3 percent of the remainder get misfiled.
- The average document is photocopied 19 times.
- Professionals spend 5-15% of their time reading information, but up to 50% of their time looking for the right information.
The viability of this manual patchwork strategy will increasingly be in question as the volume of information that must be managed rises. We are rapidly approaching the point at which only additional technology to automate information ingestion and digestion can solve the problem. Very soon, organizations that rely on individual employees to smooth out the gaps and white spaces in their information management strategy will be at a distinct disadvantage.
6 -- In making choices, think knowledge workers, not document specialists.
For many years, the document and content industry was focused only those employees for whom document and records management were a core part of their day-to-day job responsibilities. Think of these employees as document or records specialists focused on making a particular process work -- maybe 5% of the total workforce.
While the needs of these specialists are not going away, the need for effective information management tools now touches almost every knowledge worker in your organization. "A pleasure to use" is not the phrase that many of our knowledge workers would use to describe the information management systems that we give them. It is also not the phrase that many of our customers would use to describe the experience of interacting with our externally facing web systems.
It is not unrealistic to think that your employees -- who currently say they are overwhelmed by the volume of information they must manage and who currently say they spend hours each day just dealing with email -- will need to manage 10X as much information in the near future.
Unconventional forms of information are everywhere. Paper documents are still much better managed than electronic Office files, although there is a likely effect in many offices that paper filing procedures are deteriorating as electronic content takes over. Instant messages, SMS/text messages, blogs and wikis are largely off the corporate radar in 75% of organizations. Heavy-handed governance of these nascent channels is considered to be old-fashioned, but given the potential external exposure, lack of policies and lack of inclusion in the corporate archive is a major risk.
How will your employees handle this tidal wave? Simply extrapolating the current tools and approaches to deal with this tidal wave will not solve the problem. A new approach is needed. The key to organizational productivity as the economy recovers will be individual knowledge worker productivity. And yet many organizations are frankly in a state of "they don't know what they don't know" at best and a state of denial at worst.
7 -- You need a plan.
What all this boils down to is creating an ECM architecture for your organization. How on earth do you go about such an undertaking? Here are some suggestions from Michael Elkins from the Kestral Group:
- Requirements and not just technology should dictate the architecture. Solutions developed in a vacuum are far more likely to fail. The best solution is not always out of the box from the ECM vendor.
- Start with what you know. Nearly a third of all companies have implemented Master Data Management (MDM) technology in order to gain control of their structured data sources. Unfortunately, few companies are utilizing that data to assist with the development of their ECM information architectures.
- Don’t create something unwieldy. It’s important to have a comprehensive information architecture that provides benefit to the company, but there can be a fine line between adding value and creating overhead. Sometimes, less is indeed more.
- Leave all information access options on the table. Typing a term into a search box is not always the best path for a user to get what they need. Folders and taxonomies are not dead. A strong information architecture should provide flexibility in how information is accessed.
- Data governance is critical. Developing the information architecture is not the end of the process, but rather just the beginning.
- Think big and think portable. All too often, ECM deployments are departmental in nature. As a result, only the implementing department’s needs are taking into consideration at the time of the design.
A successful blueprint begins with identifying the critical success factors for the initiative, how they will be measured, and what the drivers will be (i.e., how will life be different after all this work). A good business blueprint includes the following:
An Executive Summary that summarizes the key information contained in the business blueprint, and highlights the recommendations and decision required.
A High-Level Program Plan that provides a very high level plan showing a sequence of projects and approximate delivery schedule. This will likely include a series of tactical and strategic projects.
A series of Business Case justifications covering the multiple dimensions of any ECM or ERM project:
- The strategic case shows why the ECM-related project is required, and what business needs the project satisfies.
- The economic case contains the summary of costs and benefits. The economic case focuses on comparing alternative ways of implementing the ECM-related project.
- The funding case confirms that the available sources of funding are sufficient to implement the ECM environment and operate the ECM service.
- The commercial case describes plans for the procurement of any ECM services or technology from suppliers.
- The project management case describes the governance arrangement for the project and details of the project team.
A Future-State Conceptual Architecture illustrates the gap between the initial Current-State Conceptual Architecture, and what is proposed as the conceptual components of the solution to solve the concerns of the business.
8 -- In everything you do, remember that change is difficult.
Crown Partners' Lynn Fraas describes the user adoption challenge in this way: "A consistent topic in ECM circles is low user adoption. We think of ECM as 'mature' technology, however, most companies still struggle with broad user adoption. In implementing ECM technology we fundamentally change the way an individual or group does their job. Consequently, the business process and culture change associated with the technology is much more significant that the implementation of the technology itself."
AIIM research suggests that the main pitfalls for an ECM project stem not from technology but from a failure to anticipate change management issues. Regardless of the kind of change -- whether technological, cultural, procedural, role-based, or any other -- organization must determine whether they are ready to face the change and adjust to it. Determining readiness is a big factor in the potential success of your ECM project.
Organizational change is always going to appear threatening to people as it is often linked to job security. Some enterprises freely disseminate information regarding strategy changes. Other firms are very secretive and feel that this is for senior management only. Practitioners should be as open and honest with staff about change as they possibly can. Typically, people will more readily embrace the change process if clear information is available. The readiness of both management and affected workers to accept and adapt to change are the most crucial factors in the success, or failure, of your project. Management may be far more ready to change than the potentially effected workers, particularly if the idea for the proposed change is coming from management -- as it typically is. However, just because you have meetings with middle or senior management who are very enthusiastic about this new project, doesn't mean that the organization as a whole is ready to change.
Per Lynn Fraas, the key elements in a successful change management initiative are:
- Get top management support.
- Start small.
- Be fanatical about internal PR and communication.
- Use personas to understand how the new system will impact users.
- Focus on the business process (not the underlying technology).
- Get users and business owners involved early in the process.
- Train, train, and then retrain.