Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Forcing Structure by Leveraging a Crisis

Leveraging a crisis happens all the time in politics and the financial industry. Why not leverage a crisis for the sake of organizing content? Let's face it unstructured content will remain as such unless a fire is lit under the businesses responsible for making the mess in the first place. Here are five possible avenues to pursue if the opportunity arises. The idea here is to build a foundation of detail and context, the "who, what, and where" of Zachman's framework. This will provide a foundation to then apply certain tools to go to the next levels of acting on the content in ways that structure, permission, and dispose.

Let's say there's a lawsuit against your company and the legal department is breathing down IT's neck to find, collect, and produce information and content pertinent to the case. You're not too happy with the 3rd party vendor who is helping collect the information. The business is somewhat removed from any searching activities. Most of the burden is on IT. But why? Who created this chaos call "content management"? What you could do is use the litigation request as a method to push back detailing content and context to the business under the guise of needing this information for legal counsel.

When cost cutting is running it's course through your company, use this to apply a cost charge structure where the business units bear the burden of paying for all aspects of IT. For example, if you inventory your ECM user groups, I bet you'll find a few groups which use larger percentages of the system in terms of licenses and storage capacity. When these groups feel the pain of actually paying out of pocket for IT's services and storage, they will quickly want to figure out what the records management policies are and dispose of content. They will also want to structure their content to better understand what they have and who owns it.

If there is a breach in the ECM system, unauthorized access to sensitive information, the business will want to clamp down on access control. This will prompt the business units to figure out what they have and who can see it. It would be a good time to apply metadata and better folder structure to the content as they are applying ACLs.

IT Capabilities: Limits of DR and SLA
The next time a system goes down because of backup time during an upgrade, or recovering from a flooded data center, the business will be tick off, but receptive. This could be an opportunity to mandate standards of ECM organization and use.

If the work requests of the ECM system are back logged and the business is complaining, try pushing back an agenda of redesign and restructuring the content and information architecture. Too many customizations to a system could mean it's time to upgrade and apply standards that help integrations and interoperability.

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