Friday, March 23, 2012

Is your ECM Portfolio Management in a Rut?

I recently had the opportunity to meet with a client that had implemented Documentum Webtop 4 years ago. I was part of that implementation. It was like being in a time warp to return after 4 years to see that really no further expansion of the initial roll out had occurred save for adding on lots more object types. This is an obvious sign that a painful gap exists between what the business wants and what IT delivers. Just tossing in a content management system will not fix issues of communication and lack of persistence.

Like the truck in the photo, Portfolio Management is stuck in a rut. It may not even exist. Here are some of the pain points of everyday users take for granted:

  • Not being able to find what they know is in the repository.
  • Wanting to be alerted when a certain document is approved and meets certain key/value criteria: this is a tell tale sign of lack of workflows which would organize and alert groups and individuals as documents are approved.
  • Harboring grievances with DCTM interfaces and tools for years to no avail.
It is easy to blame the content management system for all the woes of just trying to get your work done, but most of the time the blame is on the company's lack of process around listening to what the business wants, how they work, when, with whom, etc. Listening comes first, then documenting, budgeting per business unit (not through IT), managing this portfolio, and, at the end, having IT get it done. Many mid-sized companies do not put too much emphasis on IT portfolio management, let alone content management. Thus if issues arise with content management, IT is blamed, not the breakdown of portfolio management.

The need for dedicated IT business analysts
What happens when business units have a phobia of workflow automation? Nothing, unless IT has a strong business analyst who works with the business to figure out the best ways to automate their headache routines, to detail content and approval processes, to advocate for the business with an eye to the reality of what IT can get done.

Lacking representative governance
Centralized governance for detailing and prioritizing content management projects is key to the success of ECM. The group can not be run by IT as they will bulldoze through projects according to the last technology conference they went to. Business goals and requirements must be the drivers of the projects and priorities.

Technical Architects and CYA
If you are lucky enough to have an IT Architect, hopefully he/she can communicate to both the business needs and technical aspects of them. Many company put IT and architects on a pedestal, which causes conflict if there is a "we and they" environment. If there is a "Cover Your Ass" attitude that usually means that a good chunk of productivity is lost to long winded emails and in battles among IT and between the business and IT. If there's CYA going on, then there's portfolio management dysfunction.

A Road Map to Health
An ECM roadmap, which shows high level goals and detailed ways to get there, is needed for the restoration of trust and communication between what the business wants and what IT delivers. This roadmap should be developed jointly between the governance group and IT with architects and business analyst in the room. If there is a person doing too much talking or pushing around, gently ask him/her to respect the needs of everyone. Having an outside study done would be a disaster and is usually sponsored by individuals who have an agenda that may not be good for governance and portfolio management as a whole.