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How to deliver ECM initiatives if the Cart is before the Horse? February 18, 2016

Posted by Sanooj Kutty in Electronic Records Management, Enterprise Content Management.
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BSI standard PAS 89:2012 (Enterprise content management – Code of practice) defines the process of embarking on an ECM initiative as below.

bsi-ecminitiatives

Naturally, this cyclical process makes sense, much like deciding the dish, identifying the recipe, sourcing the ingredients and then preparing the dish.

However, over more than a decade of working with ECM initiatives across UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman (effectively the GCC minus Saudi Arabia), the de facto ECM initiative process more or less follows as below.

gcc-ecminitiative

Now this becomes an interesting case of almost buying the ingredients, deciding the dish, creating the recipe and then preparing the dish. While this may enable you to definitely end up having a dish, it may not be the right one as you can only have a dish as per the ingredients and not the one you wish to have.

In the case of an ECM initiative, this leads to a misalignment between the requirements and the technologies, leading to either an expensive initiative or a failed one.

None of the above is unknown, plenty of material has been written on how to roll out an ECM initiative. This article aims to guide organizations that may have adopted the above approach to achieve better outcomes, i.e., if the cart is before the horse, train the horse to push!

Iterate Deliverables

Do not even attempt to eat the elephant in one bite. By eating one bite at a time, the organization is able to gauge the effectives of the current implementation, manage adoption and change and gain a better understanding of ECM practices and technologies.

 Avoid Customization

While ECM technologies do provide a platform to customize, it is best to avoid customization. Custom requests always tend to end up in a perennial loop as different stakeholders tend to want the same function in different ways. If business objectives can be met without customization, completely avoid it. Most ECM technologies are configurable to meet your objectives.

Manage Change

Since one has had to cut corners and make the best use of the bird in hand and not the two in the bush, it is imperative that change is bound to occur. Prior to engaging in disparate and individual changes, this could be the opportunity to revisit your change management by adopting the BSI recommended process. Where prevention hasn’t taken place, one surely needs to cure.

Leverage Human Capability

If my mother can learn to use mobile phones starting from Nokia to Blackberry to Android, your users can learn to use the solution the way it has been configured with the available technologies. I’ve seen my dad shift from doing his accounting on books to doing it on Lotus 123 spreadsheets. Having realized that his job and career are at stake if he didn’t learn the new technology, he put in extra effort to learn it. It also helps you to identify your resources who are ready to adapt and progress. As long as business objectives are met and business rules are followed, people can be taught to learn new systems and most users shall end up learning it, sooner than later.

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The Chaos of ECM-BPM Strategies March 9, 2012

Posted by Sanooj Kutty in Business Process Management, Enterprise Content Management.
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Setting your ECM or BPM implementation strategy can appear to be pretty straightforward. After all, you either want to manage your content or manage your process. To achieve that, get some experts, get a good tool(s), and launch a project and presto!

If only life in this world were that easy. Not experienced enough to be authentic in my judgment of how it happens around the world (although it may be the same story everywhere), I’ll keep myself to my corner of the world in context.

Five cornerstones determine the success or failure of ECM/BPM projects.

Yet are strategies revolving around these cornerstones in the right manner? Many a time, I feel we usually end up barking up the wrong tree and put the wrong cornerstone at the center of our strategies.

Let’s start from the obvious cornerstones.

Technology

It is quite normal to introduce technology to settle the chaos only to find itself contributing to the ensuing chaos. Expect perhaps with cases of revolution like the one Apple did with “touch”, in most cases technology follows business but can find itself at the wrong end of the stick. Bear in mind Technology can help you do many things, but not all the things. Again, you need to ask yourself, do you need your technology to do some things, specific things, many things or everything?

People

Ah! Here comes the quintessential trouble maker, people or in other words your business users and technical staff. Either they are too many or do too little. It’s time we set this right. Through ECM/BPM implementations we can resolve this issue. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. It’s not uncommon for people to be the target. It’s not fully unjustified either; the right implementation of ECM/BPM solutions can help you manage your people factor… to a limit.

Process

This time, it’s the process that’s wrong and we need to change our processes so that people can do their jobs better and management can make the right decisions. It’s imperative to be very careful here because it’s not always that you need to change your as-is process. Many a time, organizations naturally go back to old processes after changing it. Look around and you’ll find your process is fine, your troubles may lie elsewhere. Implementing a process on your BPMS could also be your as-is and does not necessarily have to be your to-be.

Management

When all the above fails, it’s obvious that your management style is questioned and you look at changing them. Are you sure change is always good? Change may be permanent but not all change is good. Be it democratic, autocratic or situational, your management style as it is could also be the right one for your business.

Content

We’re not talking here of the management of content, but, instead the focus is on the content itself. Very few implementation strategies here focus on the content itself. Having the right content is as important as having the content right. Too much information floating around the organization ecosystem can be as damaging as too little information and can add to the chaos.

ECM/BPM systems are here to stay. Although, time has yet to make a judgment in what manner and form will they stabilize, in an increasingly digital world, their importance is beyond doubt. Using them to benefit your business depends on identifying what needs to be put at the center to resolve.

Is it your technology, process, people, management or content? Magic mirrors don’t provide you these answers but honest introspection can help.

Note: Although ECM and BPM are used due to their popularity, the same applies for any of the others such as ERM, ACM, etc in this blog.

Why I drifted away and then got pulled back to AIIM? February 7, 2012

Posted by Sanooj Kutty in Business Process Management, Capture, Electronic Records Management, Enterprise 2.0, Enterprise Content Management.
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8 comments

While the credit to my foray into unstructured information management; namely DMS and ERM must go to my erstwhile mentor, Mr. P Vidyasagar, I would credit my knowledge mostly to AIIM. Ever since I stepped into the world of AIIM, my knowledge in the world of ECM, ERM and BPM have only been on the increase.

However, pretty soon, after the initial thirst, I realized AIIM was more technology-oriented. With me being more into Information MANAGEMENT than information management SYSTEMS, I found myself drifting away from AIIM. If it wasn’t for my continued interactions with Bryant, I may have even left AIIM.

Then suddenly, AIIM announces a survey for a new information management certification and before I could say Rip Van Winkle, they launched the Certified Information Professional program. One glance at it and I was at once, both excited and nervous. This is what I wanted to be, yet, this is where I was not. A mirror that left me glad for reflecting my aspirations while honestly letting me know there was some journey to go.

However, the real importance of this renewed AIIM struck me when I came across Cheryl McKinnon’s blog post, “New Challenges for 2012: Putting People First” and I saw this picture:

And my expectations from AIIM were all satisfied in one look. From the early days, I have tried to stay technology and vendor agnostic right through my career. The flip side of this is that I don’t understand codes any more. I don’t pay attention to Application Servers, Content Servers, Web Servers, etc. SDLC or Scrum doesn’t matter to me. But, when you want to plan, search, capture, store, process, dispose information, my antennae go up.

I am your quintessential information manager, I repeat.

I am not your information management technologist, I emphasize.

So, what I want to offer my customers is this in their information management, exactly what they want:

And what does the AIIM CIP cover:

Yes, there are gaps I need to fill and yes; information management is not a one-man show. However, for now I am confident AIIM and its CIP is a path that can take me where I want to go.

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