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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.

In UAE, We Love Our Paperwork! January 31, 2012

Posted by Sanooj Kutty in Capture, Electronic Records Management, Enterprise Content Management.
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I am someone who rarely bookmarks web pages. However, in September 2011, I could not resist but bookmark a very interesting article. And when it’s titled, “UAE paper use among highest in the world”, how could an aspiring Information Management professional resist.

In football, UAE would have been proud to be on the same status as Italy or Spain. At 200 kg per capita annual consumption of paper, this is not a statistic we should be proud of sharing with them. The significant factor here, though, is that UAE’s consumption is increasing at an average of 5-6% while those of North America and Europe are reducing at 1.8%. We may soon find the world following our paper trails.

The intention of Go Green is very much evident in the visions of the leadership of this country and is reflected in this historical resolution by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and the launch of the ambitious Masdar City by under the leadership of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Yet, when it comes to implementations, most organizations have taken a backward step with layoffs and budget cuts in their ECM programs citing recession as the reason.  Businesses are still to realize that paper-related costs are not limited to your A4 bundles but also in storage, safety and logistics and it’s a case of being Penny Wise and Pound Foolish.

As an AIIM Ambassador and its Professional Member since 2009, I am extremely disappointed with myself that UAE’s paper consumption is on the rise, especially since document management technologies have been around for around 2 decades. One look at the comments section of this article highlights that the general public is in a cure mode of recycling rather than the prevention mode of adopting DMS or ECM systems.

It is time for the ECM community in the UAE to come together to promote the business and social advantages. Then again, with direct vendor presence from leading players in the domain like IBM, OpenText, EMC, HP (Autonomy) et al, why do I not find enough education or awareness campaigns in the market?

Perhaps, and this is my speculation, is that this is because the UAE is more represented by License-pushers and pure technocrats. The management of content from a business perspective is a gap found wanting in this market.  We need more Enterprise Content Managers and less ECM license salesmen.

Until then, UAE will continue to love its “paper” work.

Rebooting the Human Mindset – The Invisible Challenge July 12, 2011

Posted by Sanooj Kutty in Business Process Management, Enterprise Content Management, Others.
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Google + brings about a renewed wave of energy in the Social Networking scene. 30% of my Twitter (another Social Networking phenomenon) now buzzes with Google + and related hash tags. With Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook himself checking it out, how could I be left behind?

Dan O’Leary was kind enough to invite me and as I joined in, my initial excitement was vanquished by my inability to adapt to Google + easily. Perhaps, the lingering experience of Facebook was prompting me to find a Facebook in Google +. I created my account, click a couple of circles and I was out of there. It took me a lot of intention to come back 2 days later! And when I returned I had to reboot my mindset to explore and adopt Google +, a task not as easy as our favorite 3-finger salute; CTRL+ALT+DEL.

It’s been 4 days now and Google + has not connected me to anyone new; instead it’s synergized a selection of my Facebook contacts and Twitter followers into one. Only time will tell whether I enjoy this cohesion or not.

As an ECM-BPM cohesion advocate, this small experience was a reflection of the invisible challenge I have faced on a daily basis during the course of my humble career. As a non-technical resource in the information management world, it’s a difficult journey to meet the expectations of the business without upsetting the ability of the techies to deliver with the tools at their disposal.

Be it a Document Management System or a Records Management System or a Collaboration System or the conventional BPM or Social BPM or Adaptive Case Management or Dynamic Case Management, they are all a change to the business user from their interactions and experiences with their current systems and processes.

In spite of all these innovative solutions, why do we still see the email as the most prominent unstructured information communication and collaboration medium? It’s simple; the email did not change the behavior of communication; it merely changed the medium of communication. The snail mail approach was merely adapted to a digital medium.  The new solutions require the human to UNLEARN while emails kept it down to an acceptable minimum.

However, the completely anarchic nature of the E-mail began to pose other challenges to an enterprise in terms of security, storage and retrieval. The processes that were probably better controlled albeit at a much slower pace through a paper trail was now run through the chaotic freedom of emails.

Naturally, the world began to search for alternatives to control their content and processes resulting in a whole new gamut of information management solutions. However, the innovators in their excitement to lead the brat pack forgot that the human mind is not as excited to adopt changes as they desire to. A slow and steady release would have allowed the Average Joe to visualize, experiment, experience and then execute these solutions.

Today, within 4 days, as I start to crib about the unavailability of Google + on Blackberry, I must also be honest that I may not have appreciated too much features from Google + in one go. Just as I started on Facebook when it was not as feature rich as it is now, I had a natural growth into it.

As an ECM-BPM consultant, I take great efforts to restrain my excitement at releasing a plethora of features to the business user. The challenge of rebooting their mindset to unlearn the current and re-learn the future is more daunting that delivering exciting new features.

Unless, one gauges the organizational or departmental psyche towards unlearning, it is best advised to feed them one biscuit at a time and not the whole pack. The Invisible Challenge must be made visible before any ECM-BPM program is launched and to crack this code, I’m off to reading that greatest lesson ever – “Aesop’s The Hare and The Tortoise”.

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