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Archive for July, 2010

Lessons From the Knee of the Master: Battle-Tested Tips for ECM Success

Not many people have heard of Duncan Stanners. Forget Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, Duncan was quietly plying his craft when the internet was but a twinkle in the DoD's eye. But make no mistake, Duncan Stanners has had the kind of success implementing knowledge management programs that most of us can only dream about. 

Duncan recently retired after 20+ years of service at Shell Canada  (which is now wholly owned by Royal Dutch Shell) and I recently had the privilege of joining him and several of our peers in the Calgary knowledge and information management community at a retirement luncheon in Duncan's honour.  In the true spirit of knowledge management, Duncan shared some of the lessons he learned from the successes and challenges he faced over the years. The summary below was shared in the context of implementing a knowledge management program but it applies equally to any RM, ECM or information management program as well. 

  1. Go where the energy is. Duncan suggests that while there may be many opportunities to make a big impact with your initial implementation efforts, don't try to boil the ocean. When choosing where to focus, find the group with the most enthusiasm for your project, pick a problem and solve it. This not only builds goodwill with the folks whose problem you've solved, it also builds momentum and a positive reputation for your program team. 
  2. If you can't find energy, create it.  This is easier said than done but by focusing on the value your program will bring their area of the business and to them as individuals you will gain their trust and enthusiasm.  Again, find a problem and solve it.
  3. When talking to customers, don't talk about KM (or RM, IM or ECM), talk about their business.  This helps build trust and shows that you are there to help them solve business problems. It also has the handy side effect of helping your learn more about their slice of the organizational pie, which helps you apply your expertise in ways that are specific to their business context.
  4. If you can't create a hard-dollar ROI, focus on real risks. There is seldom a conversation about information management that doesn't at some point come back to the question of value for money (and nor should there be).  But hard-dollar saving s from de-duplicating the shared drive and improving information access do not always offset the initial costs of your program. However, a risk-based approach that uses hard cost measures based on things that have actually happened will help make your case. Sell your program on the same basis that you sell a safety initiative; the benefits of working more safely are irrefutable , and once they understand the similarities between the two they will be supportive.
  5. "You're already doing knowledge management. You're just doing it badly".  Duncan's point is that most groups within your organization are already doing knowledge management (or records, information or content management) but because they are using ineffective processes they are not managing their knowledge or information well.  Your job as an expert is to help guide them through the process to managing that knowledge or information better. Duncan suggests that you find cases where you have successful practices and repeat these until you succeed.
  6. Tools won't sell the thing.  At best, tools and technology can facilitate adoption and at worst they can constrain it, but the best tool in the world will not help if you are not helping real-world business users solve real-world business problems.

Posted on July 15, 2010 by Greg Clark
ECM,ECM Best Practice,ECM Governance

The Lasting Impact of Canadians in Records and Information Management

In honour of Canada Day today (and yes, "honour" is spelled with a "u"), I thought I would share the significant contribution Canadians have made to the information and records management industry.   I'm not sure why it is that Canada seems to have had a disproportionate impact on our industry; I'm tempted to say that we don't have much to do in the winter except fret about records, but that would further the unfortunate stereotype of Canada as a winter wasteland.  The truth is, Canada is a vibrant, diverse and well-educated country that has given the world a lot of great things; from the first radio broadcast to the BlackBerry, from basketball to birch bark canoes and from the instant replay to insulin, Canadians have done a lot.

So it shouldn't really come as a surprise that we can add records management systems to that list.  My Twitter pal and content management all-rounder Cheryl McKinnon (more on her later) provided me with some guidance on the short history of records management systems in Canada.

It is a little-known fact that three of the core records management components in the major ECM suites were originally conceived of in Ottawa.  PS Software Solutions became the core of the Livelink RM module after PS was acquired by Open Text in 1999, Tarian Software was acquired by FileNet (now part of IBM) in 2002 and Provenance Systems became Documentum Records Manager (now part of EMC), also in 2002.

But Canada's glories in the records and information management space are not all past tense.  The following is a very brief overview of a few prominent Canadians in ECM.  And I say brief because it is impossible to capture the contributions of every Canadian who has had an impact on the records and information management industry. The big risk with listing names is overlooking someone and I am certain I have done so, so my apologies in advance. If you think there is someone who deserves to be recognized as a leader in the Canadian ECM space, please let me know in the comments section below.

Tom Jenkins is the Executive Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer at Open Text, the company that helped define the ECM industry and make it what it is today. He joined the company as Chief Operating Officer in 1994 and quickly became CEO then Chairman.  He is one of the true champions of ECM and has helped Open Text become the largest independent ECM vendor in the world. Tom literally wrote the book on ECM and continues to actively promote the future of information through Open Text's support of the Canada 3.0 initiative and the University of Waterloo's Stratford Institute, a think-tank devoted to collaboration between digital media, international commerce and culture.

Cheryl McKinnon has been the Chief Marketing Officer at Nuxeo, an up and coming open source ECM vendor since 2009, but got her start in ECM 16 years ago following a graduate degree in Canadian History.  Cheryl has extensive public sector experience with Hummingbird/PC DOCS and following Open Text's acquisition of Hummingbird she managed the Livelink Collaborative Content Management line of business. It was in this capacity that she launched the Open Text Enterprise 2.0 strategy in 2008. Cheryl is one of my favourite Tweeters (or is that Twitterers?) for her insightful and relevant commentary on all aspects of ECM from records management to social media. She is a true thought leader in our industry and if you don't already follow her Tweets I encourage you to do so. 

Barclay Blair is an information governance guru who has written extensively on the topic. He is the author (along with Randy Kahn) of the Information Nation books, speaks and consults all around the world to Fortune 500 companies, governments and others.  Just in case you were worried Barclay would coast on past success, he was recently named a "SharePoint Guru" at SharePointGovernance.org, a peer exchange site sponsored by AIIM. Barclay is currently president at ViaLumina.

Ann Rockley is the founder of the Rockley Group, a globally-recognized content management consultancy.  Ann has written two books on the intricacies of content management, including DITA 101 and Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy,  which is regarded as one of the seminal books in our industry. Ann is also active in the content management  community; she is the OASIS co-chair DITA for Enterprise Business Documents Subcommittee and is a founding member of the CM Pros group.

Like I said earlier, this list is intended to highlight the contribution Canadians have made to records and information management. If you can think of anyone else who deserves recognition, please list them in the comments section below.

Posted on July 1, 2010 by Greg Clark
AIIM,Records Management