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In ECM, the Strategy IS the Work

Two days into a recent AIIM ECM Master Class, a student raised his hand and asked, “This is all really good, but when do we start doing the work?” At that point, he and his mates had learned a lot about effective strategies for taxonomy, metadata, search, policy, and technology, and they were itching to get their hands dirty already.

As heads nodded around the room, I thought for a moment and replied: “You’re right; there has been a lot of theory and discussion so far. But believe it or not, this IS the work! Talking to vendors and writing a check is the easy part, but you won’t really know who’s best to talk to and what to buy from them if you don’t do this part first.”

The class got it immediately, we did a few exercises that brought the point to life, and they graduated well-equipped to handle the detail work they craved. But the question was a good one, for it underscored just how little overall visibility is given to the critical need for comprehensive, methodical, up-front planning.

I sat down with AIIM Director Bob Larrivee – a veteran and popular AIIM course instructor in his own right – to explore this issue further. A few highlights of our conversation are presented below; to hear the complete audio interview, simply click the “play” button at the end of this post. Thanks for reading – and for listening – and for letting us know what you think!


  • Don’t say “here’s what I need” – the tool – but rather, “here’s my problem.”
  • There’s no such thing as “ECM off the rack.”
  • Reworking a system after the fact can account for 45% of implementation costs. The “unassailable logic” of mathematics suggests it’s worth spending an extra 5% up front if it means avoiding that cost later on.

Expert Audio: The Strategy is the Work

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