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Do Us All A Favor: Think First, Then Implement!

You wouldn’t think I would have to say this, but I am begging you: please PLEASE don’t begin to think about applying technology to mitigate your information management problems until after you begin thinking about what those problems actually are!

Yes, we are more than a decade and a half into the modern era of content and process management, and I still see and hear about organizations that jump right into implementation without paying nearly enough heed to the nature of the business issues they are trying to resolve.

I bring this up because of two recent encounters with this is a topic of conversation. The first is a video interview I recently gave for iDatix customers under the heading of Don’t Make an Electronic Version of the Same Bad Process. The second is the pair of AIIM ECM classes and workshops I just led in Canada and the UK, in which the recurring theme was steeped in the need to tie all thinking – from governance to features to usability and back again – to the original drivers of the initiative.

You see, there is more to managing content and improving processes than simply making it faster to move information along. In particular, it is vitally important that you first figure out whether the existing paths along which that information moves are the right ones, are traveled in the right order, and result in the delivery of the right information to the right people at the right time. Then maybe you can think about how best to apply the technology.

If this sounds like it might take a while to accomplish, and like it might be somewhat difficult to do given the existence of organizational politics and the need to do your regular job at the same time, well, then, you’re correct! And in fact, these are very common reasons this fundamental due diligence so often receives short shrift. Unfortunately, what frequently ends up happening is that really good systems are put in place, perform the way they are supposed to, and still get evaluated as not having worked very well – and the scenario is then repeated the next time there is budget to be had.

This makes perfect sense since it is very difficult to bring up a high score when you don’t know what the judging criteria are! A good portion of the course work I deliver and the consulting I perform thus is aimed precisely at this point –and this makes perfect sense too, for as I tell my clients, it is sometimes easier overall for the outside consultant to ask the hard questions rather than set an insider up to take all the arrows.

However you approach it, make sure that you do your diligence first and then pull the implementation trigger. If enough of you do, then maybe I can finally stop issuing my periodic pleas.

Class tells! Topics like this — and more — are available through my new training program Best Practices in Information Management: A Certified Information Professional Exam Prep Course. Contact me by email or phone (617-383-4655) for more information!

7 thoughts on “Do Us All A Favor: Think First, Then Implement!”

  1. Unfortunately you keep saying this, and you are still right. I would like to think it is getting better but analyzing the current environment and designing the new ECM environment continues to be a challenge for every size company and organization. We still see too many islands of indifference and limited communication and collaboration of the process that should be used for change and the ultimate destination you are trying to achieve. Excellent points once again Mr. Weissman.

  2. Thanks, Bob!

    I’d like to see it get better too — one of the main reasons I’m doing so much best-practice training and consulting these days. Believe it or not, I’d love to get to the point where organizations have figured this out and drive me to focus on something else!

  3. This is still a big issue around the world Steve and we do need to keep getting this message across. The first thing to do is get your information under control and managed and then see if a new system is required.

  4. It’s amazing that, as you said, this isn’t common knowledge & practice. I think the problem is that ICT is viewed as some sort of magical panacea, as opposed to a practical & readily understandable part of business. It would be interesting to see how streamlined and successful implementations would be if more companies employed CIP / ECM professionals to bridge the gap between ICT & business needs

  5. The main problem really is that companies don’t have a lot of knowledge nor experience in how to set up a proper Information Architecture. Plus most of the time once you decide for one structure, it is pretty much written in stone and can’t be easily changed. But there are tools out there that do the job, like

  6. Unfamiliarity with IA is certainly a factor, but I’ll go you one further and opine that many companies don’t really even know what their business processes truly are! They THINK they know, but it often takes an outside eye to map out how work actually gets done.

    From that perspective, the IA issue is almost secondary — in sequence, anyway, though not necessarily in terms of importance.

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