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.

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