Recently I attended the Institute for Information Management session on Fremantle Ports‘ journey with information management.
As a part of the session there was an extended discussion on why champions of information management struggle so much in getting buy in from people working in the business to apply good information management practice.
One of the biggest blockers is that some of the traditional champions of these types of systems still talk about electronic documents and records management systems. With the invention of DVDs and CDs, the term “record” is as old fashioned as is the notion of a company librarian.
The internet has somewhat liberated us from the drudge of finding relevant information, however so many people could find that some simple help on search would be far more practical assistance.
The common enemy for information managers is the shared drive, and the reasons shared drives are attractive to business users are obvious:
- easy to understand
- drag and drop
- easy to create from other similar structures used at previous employers
- cheap, no software cost
- no change management or training required
However there are plenty of downsides, and the problems manifest more greatly the larger the organisation
- cannot find information created and saved by other team members
- ediscovery legal issues
- security as to who can access which documents
- version management through many documents called final or versioned simply by date without regard to contents
- no ability to easily discover relevant information created by others
Whilst many people that are working in the industry consider they are making headway, the reality is that they only make significant change when the two challenges faced here are brought together.
In the former instance the advantage of a shared drive structure is most felt by the individual. In the latter case, the benefit of using an enterprise content management platform primarily benefits the business as a whole. Clearly then, the technology needs to get out of the way and get back to being a really helpful tool for people creating documents and using information today.
It is also important to recognise that there are different kinds of information management needs. Individuals often make their own choice of when something is valuable enough that it needs to be versioned and kept, or when it is still very much in a creation stage and not ready to be considered final. The challenge exists in circumstances where many projects start as ideas and stop soon after. It often only becomes apparent what should be kept after the project is complete, and in many cases people are under job and time pressure without the time to go back and appropriately document all that was covered.
I’m a big fan of some of the social business tools that exist, particularly around projects. These tools are of most advantage when you have participants in the project are remotely located and aware of ideas and information is shared in the project. Basecamp is a classic example of one of these tools and there are a range of others such as Jive, Socialtext, Confluence, Cubetree and many others.
If you are interested in a series of tools that I use in running my business that are cloud-based please see June edition of Emergination in Action.