Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fear and Loathing in Content Management

You know when an atmosphere of fear and loathing has a grip on an ECM team when no content gets deleted, all customization is outsourced, communication is restricted to your immediate manager, and there are no formal business requirements. Boiko’s “Laughing at the CIO” comes to mind. It could be my present to the CIO this year…

Nothing Gets Deleted
“Oh no, we can’t delete anything. The boss is afraid to delete anything, he came from quality and we really wouldn’t know what to delete anyway.” Have you heard this before? Are there too many issues to tackle before even thinking about records management and retention schedules? Fear of unknown reprisals should a vital record be deleted is very real if there are no principles and understood requirements around the disposition of them.

All Customization is Outsourced
This is a cover your ass maneuver under the guise of saving money. If you fear being responsible for actually understanding and building solutions to company specific issues like integrations and metadata management, why not outsource. The long-term effects of this are a skeleton crew of implementation and support workers who are board and loath the lack of process and career potential. When most technical design decisions are made outside of the ECM group, there’s usually one manager who knows most of the details and hoards the knowledge for fear of losing his job. His employees loath his shortsighted design decisions.

Communication Restrictions
“There’s a certain protocol here. If you have an idea on how to improve something, you talk to your direct boss, who talks her direct boss, who talks to his direct boss, and so on.” This is a symptom of fear of being made obsolete by contributors who are smarter than you are. Ideas and complaints, both should be shared freely. Communication is tipping in the desert at best.

Business Requirements
Are there requirements for the ECM system? Have they been updated? Have the business users been doing whatever they have wanted without any standards for metadata, templates, workflows, etc.? You’d be surprise how many ECM systems are still dumping grounds for whatever the business want to through in there. If users are complaining about performance and search then chances are very good that users should be self loathing because they’d brought these issues on themselves.

Friday, December 17, 2010

An Approach to Classification Change

Ease Change to Assure Adoption
Approach using the new classification on the homepage of the portal or ECM system an option rather than a mandate, that is, provide the old homepage in parallel with the new look and let the Users decide which is better. Users will either adopt it or not. Either way you’ve reduce the risks of a wholesale change. Chances are good that the new classification will be faster and more amenable to the way User’s think about the company’s information.

Align Classification Schemes and Labels
Research all of the classification schemes in your company and attempt to conform them to a matrix where comparisons can be made. Look at common values. Look at classification labels which repeat themselves. Weigh the priority of following the lead of initiatives that have momentum, for example, if SharePoint is being adopted as a platform, look at how the tabs are labeled and try to conform to those. The goal is to work together for a common label structure for many reasons beyond the portal or ECM system. The goal is to create a reference for integration of search, records management, security, etc. This is one way to slowly achieve continuity of classification.

Mapped Metadata to Metadata Repository
In large organizations there are many reports, spreadsheets, databases, websites, etc., which proliferate different ways of describing content and information. These cause confusion and turf wars among groups responsible for applications. The integration groups are caught in-between trying to map one value to another in attempts to patch and process content flows. Mapping metadata is a stop gap approach, but does not deal with the larger issues of working toward a central metadata repository.

Taking the Long-Term Approach
  • Design and develop an enterprise metadata and classification model based on industry standards and integration requirements.
  • Pick the project that has the most traction and momentum and make sure they are classifying and describing their data according to the enterprise model.
  • Work in the adoption and changes to other applications as the latest "killer app" is maturing.
  • Integrate all applications at the metadata and classification levels, assuring bi-directional change interfaces.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Records Management comparison of Sharepoint vs. Opentext vs. Documentum

Here's a rough records management functional and design comparison matrix based on Sharepoint 2010's offering out-of-the-box:



Open Text Content Server

Documentum 6.x

Document IDs

New in 2010

Docid in dversdata

r_object_id, i_chronicle_id

Document Sets

Tab in UI, custom page, properties of set and content list

Folders, Projects, Collections, Virtual Folders, Reports,
Web Reports, Custom View

Folders, Change Sets, and WDK customizations
Virtuals Docs

Auto Tag hierarchy

Library >
Content Types

Folder >
RM Classifications

Folders >
Object types


Configurable, multi lingual, terms easily changed

Classifications and categories/metadata

Categories and translations

Content Organizer

A “transparent process” which routes content based on
attribute values

Folder Provisioning

RM Classifications

Customization or DCM or Taskspace
or xCP solution
Smart Folders
File Plan in RM

Tag doc properties during creation

Transparent while writing in MSWord, term suggestions

Picks up basic MS Word properties

Picks up basic MS Word properties

In place Records Management

Declare from list

Declare from properties on standard UI

Declare from attributes or dropdown on standard UI

File Plan

Site level, content number, policy, content types

RM Classification on folders, categories, and content

Configuration in RPS or RM

Multi Stage Policy

Review Cycles
Apply retention to folders (libraries?) or content types

Record Series Identifiers are configured to handle actions
by certain criteria in doc properties

Lifecycle actions, folder inheritance, content type, TBO/SBO,

Applying Holds

Search and apply
In place or move

Part of RM module



Clustered, sticky session

Session is lost when a node goes down

Clustered, sticky session

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Groupon and How We Work

I’m going to take Daniel Lyons’s Newsweek article, “Click and Save” which is an introduction to Groupon to the next logical level. Groupon has subscribers who sign up for a service or merchandise and save by the scale of how many subscribers are interested and the deal that the merchandiser makes. This type of give and take can be applied as new way to doing work within IT.

So let’s apply this type of methodology to our “agile” or “waterfall” projects in a corporation. The project would start out as an idea or pain point which would be described by the person who has a budget and needs work done. Its details would feed into a sourcing cycle which matches the pain point with subscribers who know how to build/deliver the solution. There would have to be a deal making component which could resolve the processes around the sponsor deciding on who should do the work, the scope, for how much money and time, and for the subscriber/vendor to answer the requests and seal the deal.

So you ask, where’s the manager in this process? There would be minimal need. The project sourcing app is directly focused on the needs of the business and the solutions of the vendors or in-house developers. There’s a certain amount of critical mass that needs to be involved with the whole application for it to work, but this is the portfolio distribution process directly connecting the dots -- no middle person influencing decisions, playing politics, back stabbing, protecting their jobs, etc. Man, I’m not jaded am I?

So Gartner where does this fit into your ECM quadrants? Transactional content management? Could be. There’s a real need within companies to streamline the whole process of sorting out content creation and building applications that resource and process them. Content Infrastructure? Maybe. Portfolio management built into workflows that push knowledge from the creative brains to the consumers. We’ve heard all of this before, but what is new is that a small company like Groupon can blend a need for efficiency with the collective motivation of the crowd cutting away the profits of the middlemen. If this could be applied to the many issues of why IT projects fail wouldn’t that be a step forward?