Day 2 continued for me on the same basic theme as day 1. The focus of the sessions I attended seemed to be on communicating some of what I think are the basic tenets of implementing a strong ECM system. This general theme broke down into two areas:
Records Management – The session by Susan Cisco and Jonathan Brandenburg of the Gimmal Group focused on the implementation of a ‘big bucket’ theory of RM. Long story short, they discussed how organizations can align physical and electronic records management by reducing records classifications into about 100 ‘buckets’. I find this approach interesting in and of itself but the most entertaining part of the session was the response from some of the Microsoft partners and employees in the room, many of whom were obviously hearing about records management for the first time. The look on the face of a couple of people said it all; “You’re kidding me. You mean you can’t just keep everything forever? How about just destroying all of my email on a regular schedule. No? What!?” I even caught a couple of records managers in the room giggling gently to themselves. The whole thing was a bit comical; it reminded me of the movie Mars Attacks just before the aliens start zapping everyone.
The second area of focus was a suggested shift in mindset from a prescriptive ECM deployment approach to a more people-centric approach. Forrester analyst Kyle McNabb talked about the roots of ECM and used this as a jumping-off point to suggest that all the easy IT process automation has pretty much happened (for things like accounting month-end processing and customer relationship management) and that our next challenge is to enable people-centric collaboration. Interestingly, he used two of the three “C’s” in our name to illustrate his point, talking about context driving collaboration. I obviously agree with this point and it’s good to see that industry thinkers are taking this approach as well.
The distinction between process-centric and people-centric work may also shed some light on the differences between our records management friends and the Microsoft deployment community. Typical records-focused ECM implementations will often try to get users to change the way they work in order to classify content into one of the aforementioned buckets. McNabb’s perspective (and mine as well) is that RM classification needs to be embedded into an existing work practice perhaps even to the point that they don’t realize it’s going on. What I call the “subversive RM” strategy allows users to continue to work in a context meaningful to them while capturing critical records classification data based on the document library or folder in which the content is stored. If we can pull that off, perhaps we can get the aliens to holster those ray guns before things get messy.