Saturday, January 28, 2012

"With Liberty and Justice for Some" applied to ECM

Glen Greenwald's book, "With Liberty and Justice for Some" can be applied to the world of enterprise information management. In my 20 years of watching content management projects gain political momentum inside companies, be rammed through the process usually ignoring the requirements of key groups, finish with fanfare and pomp, and then IT moves onto the next big project. This is not new, however Greenwald's point that we need to resolve the issues of the past in order to move on fairly and responsibly is crucial.

No one wants to look back on an ECM project's successes and failures, especially given the fast pace of software technologies. When I'm done with a project, the core software has been patched and a major upgrade is approaching fast. If the teams involved with designing, developing, deploying, and testing the project could sit down and work through the issues (because there were no doubt issues: always are) retrospectively the whole company is that much more richer in understanding and agile in their pursuits.

I know, this is called a "post mortem". All companies do this or at least try halfheartedly. What I'm really getting at is true analysis of who the bullies are in the process, which groups got shafted, who broke the rules for personal reasons, etc. I concerned about the characters involved; what they did that was constructive and what they did that obstructed the process. In most companies a "post mortem" is done by the IT team, maybe including a few doers from the business side. Management does not get that involved, unless they want to fire someone or control the situation (I know pessimistic) .

If management understood the underlying negative impact that some of the projects and software used impose on their workers, they would demand closer scrutiny of every project. Instead, management seems to be more keen on the next big thing, leaving the workers to scrap together new ways to design and develop the mess they were just handed on their own. I say mess because information projects never really end; they have a "long tail". Some information management projects eventually fail because they were not nurtured and fed the right amount of emphasis and attention that they rightfully deserve. Just as Greenwald says that the elite have impunity with the rule of law, so to companies and managers as whole need to take their share of the blame, retrospectively, when an information management project fails.

No comments: