When it comes to managing an enterprise content management (ECM) system, the technology is not the hard part. Deploying hardware, standing up servers and patching software are all comparatively easy. Managing the human aspect of successful ECM can be the biggest challenge. Here are some tips for things to consider when your ECM system is in place and it’s time to roll out it out to users.
Plan for change management
Do you know your user constituents from basic-level to super-user? Assess your desktop support volume and its characteristics prior to ECM coming online. That will give you hints about your user environment and help you better understand the types of users who will be interacting with the system. Don’t underestimate the value of having a change-management plan for the transition to help you explain the benefits and plan for the new system.
Draw clear lines during the changeover
Giving users crutches such as an Explorer-type folder view into the ECM platform might seem like a good idea for easing into ECM adoption, but as you move toward the new system, you may encounter a cascade of complaints. So draw a line in the sand with your users and don’t let them use old systems, functions or habits after a certain date; don’t let them fall back on their old ways. The short-term awkwardness of forcing knowledge workers to do the right thing will pay off. In some cases, a public execution will make the point stick, if your company is willing to accept a new policy. Inappropriate photos on cubicle walls are a firing offense; inappropriate use of content in an ECM system should be as well.
Sell the system to the users
As soon as an ECM system has been chosen, the IT department should start selling it to all constituents. Explain how it is going to make their lives easier, how it’s going to reduce risk, and how they will be able to find information more easily. Draw analogies to what they already do, and follow their interests. Is it social networking, Web surfing or information exchange?
Enforce ECM usage
Enforcing proper ECM usage can be done by policy or technology – and it can be a challenge to choose an approach. Apply too much technology enforcement and users will revolt; use too little, and information audits will expose mounds of garbage and diminished value. Having too many policy rules will guarantee that they will be forgotten and poorly communicated. Have too few, and technology will become a scapegoat. Focus on finding a balance that fits the organization’s social and technical culture. Remember, users are not the enemy, but they can be the weakest link in a successful implementation. Managing ECM is not entirely about herding your users toward doing the right thing. It’s also about empowering them.
Keep training basic
User training instills confidence and motivation, but sometimes it is hard for IT to keep it simple. Remember, most of the time, “simple” is not simple enough. Get training at all levels, but do not underestimate the power of the most basic training. Tailored training is ideal, starting from answering, “When I get here in the morning, what do I do?” For users, certification may not be as valuable as customized and repeatable training.
Develop super-users and trusted advisors
Being able to delegate support to responsible individuals in the organization is a great asset. “Super- users” or “trusted advisors,” non-IT employees trained in deeper aspects of the system on a department-level, can reduce the formal desktop support burden and give peer backing to the system. The super-user will have the ability to administer more aspects of the system than a typical user on a departmental level. Let them set up what they know their department needs, and make them first-tier support for the department. Often, being the trusted individual is reward enough, but implementing creative rewards for these super-users helps ensure continued support.
Remember to focus on the business
Managing ECM from a business use-case is very different from managing it from an IT perspective. At minimum, the IT department should be fully versed in the business use-case. Ideally, the IT department will have a liaison who “speaks IT” but who fully understands business usage. This liaison should assist in ECM management, especially in the area of governance. It is not always in IT’s official job description to hold hands, motivate and educate, but that can make or break ECM system adoption. So the sooner an IT department embraces and plans for working with users at some level, the easier will be its job of managing an ECM system rollout and its long-term success.
About the author: Chris Riley is a recognized industry expert in document recognition, enterprise content management (ECM) and analytics technologies. Currently, Riley is senior ECM & document capture architect at ShareSquared, Inc.; he lives and breathes technology and has built his career on helping companies buy, use and optimize advanced technologies for their business. Riley has 12-plus years of experience in this arena; during that time, he has owned three software companies and received several technology and business awards. He has degrees in business administration, computer science and mathematics, and holds certifications from the ECM trade organization AIIM as an "Enterprise Content Management Practitioner (ECMp)" and "Information, Organization and Access Practitioner (IOAp)." Riley also is a sought-after speaker and educator throughout the content gathering and delivery space. He can be reached at Chris.Riley@sharesquared.com.