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Achieving Consistency in Content Management

The below is a report from the field. Abby Moore, Principal of Services at Gimmal, recently helped a client understand how to navigate the gap between where they were and where they wanted to go. In this post, she demonstrates why a neutral third party can be just what an organization needs to manage competing priorities and navigate the silos that inhibit coordination between business units.

So many companies face the same problems - too many information management systems in play (with some rapidly becoming outdated or ineffective), or too many disparate processes in play with little alignment for how content is managed across the organization. Essentially, they lack a clear strategy or governance around information management.

I was recently able to engage with a client that was experiencing many of these issues. The focus of our engagement was straightforward: identify how to improve the way the company managed controlled documents. The current state analysis we performed identified a lack of consistency in the way controlled documents were managed. Many locations used manual, paper-driven processes and those that used electronic system(s) and processes were constantly faced with the hurdles of using a system that wasn’t quite “right” for their specific business needs.

Start by defining the requirements clearly

The next step was to conduct a workshop to define an ideal future state for managing controlled documents across the organization. The client gathered representatives from multiple business units and we met over four days. In this workshop, my role was to ensure the right level of detail was discussed and defined in order to capture meaningful requirements and to provide subject matter expertise for how to successfully manage information across an enterprise.

As a ‘neutral third party’, I was able to offer insight into successes experienced by other organizations, as well as downfalls that we at Gimmal have seen again and again in the records and information management (RIM) or enterprise content management (ECM) space. This type of expertise and guidance helped drive the workshop discussions and ultimately led to clearly defined requirements for a controlled document system that would be fit-for-purpose to meet the client’s unique business requirements and still align with global ECM best practices.  

However, given the goal of the workshop – to understand how the client managed various types of information – many other key topics, pain points, and opportunities for improvement were unveiled during our discussions that extended beyond the scope of a controlled documents system. By listening to the issues and concerns that the business representatives defined, I was able to identify several gaps that would need to be addressed in order for the client to accomplish their goal of effectively managing records and information.

Eliminate duplicated effort and unify competing priorities

The client had the right idea, to focus on improving an information management process and system for one of their most active areas: controlled documents. But early on in workshop discussions, it became apparent that the client had multiple concurrent efforts in flight to address various aspects of enterprise content management. These included efforts to define a records management system and a document management system, as well as ad-hoc IT efforts focused on working/collaboration spaces among others.

This meant the client may be capably responding to certain organizational needs around information management, but were missing potential opportunities to standardize processes and technology across the enterprise and take advantage of consistent information architecture to save both time (for administrators and end users) and money (that was supporting multiple systems, custom solutions and outdated technology).

This is where an effectively designed and implemented ECM or RIM strategy becomes so vital. Gimmal has seen firsthand how a lack of a defined strategy and consistent oversight of said strategy can comprise the organization’s ad-hoc IM efforts. Ultimately, Gimmal provided the client with a three phased approach, which consisted of comprehensive and actionable plans to address the recognized gaps and help achieve the client’s overarching objective: a governed and compliant information and records environment.

A right-sized, holistic approach

It is well understood that a comprehensive ECM strategy and consistent ECM governance sets the foundation of any information management program and should be addressed upfront to ensure success. Fortunately, through a continued engagement with Gimmal, we were able to outline such a strategy for this client. One that enabled the client to reach their information management goals in a way that fit their organizational structure and met their business. 

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By Abby Moore

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