Enterprises are beginning to realize that an effective Enterprise Content Management (ECM) roadmap, if preceded by evaluation, strategy and goals, can lead to many enterprise-level business benefits. However, to prevent ECM oversight, it is imperative to have a governance body in place to help establish a strategy which in turn results in clear operating plans.
ECM governance helps organizations ensure smooth ECM implementations which not only meet business and technical requirements, but also equip organizations with valid and reliable documents, records and content which help them make the right decisions quickly. Additionally, ECM governance ensures the integrity of an organization’s information. It’s also important to keep in mind that ECM Governance is perpetual and lives until the ECM system lives.
Proper and well-defined ECM governance eliminates decisions at the departmental level and helps organizations to make decisions at the organizational level, which shifts the focus in the right direction. This helps to infuse cross departmental ideas, which improves business processes. Common information and content between departments, if tagged with the same metadata, will result in faster and seamless retrieval of the right information. Our consulting engagements have taught us that failures result predominantly because of ECM program set up rather than product or technology related challenges.
ECM Governance must have a vision and mission. The vision must be clearly defined without any ambiguity and all relevant stakeholders (executives, IT leaders, information architects / taxonomists, compliance officers, development teams, information workers, trainers etc.,) should unanimously agree and adhere to it. Governance should also define guiding principles along with policy and standards.
ECM Governance can be divided into 3 sub governance areas:
1) Information Governance enables organizations to define the structure of information and the processes governing the information and content. It has three key activities including defining information architecture design, defining information management life cycle and defining policy management framework.
2) Program Governance enables organizations to create an ECM Center-of-Excellence team who is responsible for identifying, managing and supporting all ECM initiatives. It has three key activities including identifying people, defining processes and technology, defining KPIs and set up and organizing trainings.
3) Technology Governance enables organizations to define a set of technical standards that creates a scalable, reusable and secure development model while implementing ECM programs. It has three key activities including developing coding standards and best practices, defining development models and identifying and creating reusable assets and frameworks.
Once ECM governance is defined and rolled out, the organization must embrace, adhere and follow it until the ECM system truly lives in the organization. I think the primary reason for any ECM implementation failure is lack of ECM governance set up and adherence to it. Therefore, the key to any successful ECM implementation lies with a carefully thought out ECM governance setup.