Thursday, February 02, 2006

Enterprise content management

Systems should be transparent to users. Users should go to one interface to accomplish everything they need to do. Easier said than done!

About three years ago at KM World I heard the first description of an enterprise content management. It was great to see a diagram that showed the linking of document management, imaging, records management, web content management, customer relationship systems, etc. Since that time, it seems that this term is being considered a given. An article by John Harvey in this month’s AIIM magazine, stated at “almost all of you reading this understand that enterprise content management is an umbrella term of many technologies.”

At this year’s KM World conference I heard a lot of discussion that the layers you add on top of the system is what adds value (another way to describe ECM). Yair Dembinsky’s presentation was one of the best examples what he called network-centric CM.

A few of our staff members just returned from Stellent’s Cresendo conference. One of the first comments that I heard was “in organizations where the CMS really screamed, it was because the systems were integrated.” At the conference, one CMS manager kept raving about the web team that was using the CMS data. He stated that the CMS was the foundation and his goal for CMS to have the best information (organized, have good metadata, etc.). The web integration was what made all his efforts worth while.

An issue I heard that was discussed was legacy systems. If you could start all over, you’d probably have different systems all that easily integrate with each other. In reality, you have what you have and to change systems requires a lot of time and money. Therefore, the focus needs to be on integrating the systems that you have. Changing systems, while not unheard of, should be part of a long range plan.

A good article on enterprise thinking is posted on James Robertson’s site, Column Two and entitled, Grand enterprise projects: why are we wasting our time?. The article questions grand enterprise efforts and recommends, “instead of trying to eat the elephant whole, perhaps the better way is to take one bite at a time? Individual business units are not well-placed to solve many business problems. A centralised team of skilled (and resourced) project staff can do much to quickly develop small but useful solutions.”

This is interesting thinking as we are getting ready to develop our organization IT plan. My take home from this is to think long-term (the fully integrated enterprise system), but to approach this as a series of steps that allows you to keep your business running, while making needed business improvements. The key to integrating your systems is integrating your units and people.


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