my world of work and user experiences

June 16, 2011

Oops, ECM would have been handy here…

Filed under: ECM — frederique @ 10:20

Sometimes I see things in organizations that make me think “Oops, that was not how it was supposed to go…”.

Enterprises have content, that they should manage properly, so that everyone can find and use it effectively and efficiently and so that their processes run smoothly. In real life however, that is not always the case. Even if the organizations do have some enterprise content management system in place. Having an enterprise content management system is definitely not the same as managing your enterprise content.

The anecdotes below fortunately do not include any serious disasters. But they do represent situations where time and energy were wasted needlessly. Actually managing the enterprise content would have been handy here…

Relevant content cannot be found
Someone in a medium-sized organization tried to find an old proposal for a project she had not been involved in herself, to re-use some relevant information. She was unable to find it by searching the intranet, which included project sites and customer sites, or by browsing the likely sections. This was not caused by the fact that the proposal was confidential or specifically secured; it just could not be found. In the end, she received a copy from a colleague who found it on his own computer. By then, a lot of time had been wasted and only some of the potentially re-usable information had been found. Oops.

And yet, they had a SharePoint platform for collaboration and enterprise content management. But that only works if, firstly, the content is actually entered in the system and tagged properly with metadata. If the enterprise does not put its content in the system, then the seeker won’t find anything. Secondly, the search functionality has to do its job, so that it appears in the search results when the user, who has permission to see the content, searches for these tags.

So: Stop bypassing the system and just upload & tag content to share it. And if the search is broken, fix it, because you need a good search engine.

Spam with multi-megabyte attachments
The marketing department of a large company proudly presented their latest commercial by sending an e-mail to all employees. With a video file of several MB as an attachment. It was great they share this news, and the employees liked to see the nice commercial. But not on in their already overflowing mailboxes. And the IT team managing the infrastructure was not happy with this overload either.

And yet, they had a SharePoint platform for collaboration and enterprise content management. But the habit of sending e-mail to communicate apparently was stronger than common sense.

So: Store, manage and publish this multimedia content in the enterprise content management system , in this case: in a SharePoint site. Then you can draw everybody’s attention to it by way of a news item or an e-mail notification that contains a link to the video. In this way, you not only avoid annoying most employees and crashing the e-mail system, but you also ensure the video can be found afterwards, when the people have deleted their e-mail about the subject.

Documentation required by the auditor is lost
To keep its ISO certification, an organization had to make its documentation for quality, health, safety and environment available to the employees and to the auditor who came in to check this. As they were preparing for a visit from the auditor, they realized that the person who had always managed that documentation was not available anymore and that the documentation was equally unavailable, as it was stored on his personal computer. And maybe as a print-out somewhere, but where? Major oops…

And yet, they have a SharePoint platform for collaboration and enterprise content management. It just hadn’t occurred to them to use it for their purpose; their mindset was more paper-oriented: documents are printed and stored in some cupboard.

So: Put this documentation in a team site, where all stakeholders can find it and where the documents can be managed officially, with security, versioning and an audit trail. The site is backed-up automatically, so in case of some technical disaster, the documents can still be recovered.

Time-wasting business process
A rather large department of a company was moving to another location. In order to determine which equipment needed to be moved by the facility services team, the department coordinator sent a request form to all employees: an excel sheet, attached to an e-mail. As a result, she ended up with about 70 separate excel sheets, which she then had to merge and process. Pfff…

And yet, they have a SharePoint platform for collaboration and content management. To make matters worse, this was the IT department, which includes the team that manages and promotes the platform. But if the stakeholders do not realize that the platform offers them an easy way to manage and run the process, they keep wasting time in copying and pasting and in trying to keep track of e-mail responses.

So: Next time they want such a large group of people to fill in a request form that needs to be compiled into a complete list, just use a list in one of the many the SharePoint team sites they have at their disposal. Everybody enters their own item, and the coordinator immediately sees the total of what has to be done.

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