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ECM Helps Control the Information Explosion

Survey data indicates that a majority of organizations are unhappy with their information systems, yet, ironically some 90% consider managing online information as critical to their future! With the present explosion of social media and other forms of online information, generation of data is outpacing our capability to manage it. Hence the value of an analytical framework such as Enterprise Content Management (ECM) to help both clients and consultants get this situation more under control.

Last April I attended a one-day AIIM ECM Practitioner workshop in Washington D.C., and thought that the course's collection of methodologies and examples was very useful in my SharePoint program management and user adoption work in the public sector. I found that the ECM approach put SharePoint into a broader and logical framework of user expectations, competing/complementary tools, and integration strategies. Steve Weissman was an experienced and insightful instructor, and he had a light and entertaining way of teaching the AIIM course which made the day go fast. See also Steve’s blog at: http://blog.hollygroup.com/

AIIM provides the following definition of ECM: "strategies, methods and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content and documents related to key organization processes.” In applying ECM to business needs, it may be helpful to use Marchand’s Strategic Information Alignment Framework (see diagram), with end goals of reducing costs, adding value, minimizing risks and reacting a new reality.

Key ECM technologies and functionality consist of the following: document management, electronic records management, workflow, imaging, collaboration, web content management, content security, search and browsing. The information-sharing and access benefits in applying a sound ECM strategy include both financial and otherwise quantifiable benefits, as well as non-quantifiable or intangible benefits. Specific examples here include fewer lost documents, enhanced findability of documents, better management of content processes, and general job enrichment. Information management benefits include disaster recovery and backup, and improved security.

AIIM offers four principles to help guide ECM strategies for the future: "embrace the asset revolution; build my work my way; deliver peer-to-peer value; and develop extreme leaders." For further information on AIIM and its course offerings, see www.aiim.org.

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