As a Project Manager at ImageSource, it is my job to educate and guide stakeholders to the best solution based on budget, timelines and requirements. Having previously worked as a consultant at ImageSource, I’ve worked with the stakeholders of an organization to outline the scope of an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution for their business. During this process, our project management team conducts interviews of the users as well as workshops. The workshops help to demonstrate what is necessary for the organization to become more efficient rather than having unnecessary features, which, at times, can cause more work. As ECM technology continues to advance, more and more features become available and included in products. During the workshops, stakeholders must make tough decisions on what features are needed verses those that would just be nice to have.
Once these requirements are identified, our next objective is to review the products available, such as ILINX, IBM and Oracle, that will cover all the features the business needs to become more efficient. Currently on the market are several out-of-the-box software options that may fulfill some of the requirements needed. However, most organizations, small or large, have business processes that are unique and require configurable workflow options, database links and/or specific security requirements. Software that has this functionality ranges in licensing costs, software costs and implementation costs. It is important to have the requirements clearly identified from the beginning so that when the organization begins to review the software demos and proof of concepts, the best and most cost efficient solution is selected.
We’re going to add one more item to our pre-ECM project checklist:
1) Where should we store our content?
Database storage used to be expensive. In the 1950’s, the cost per megabyte of storage exceeded $10,000/MB. Today, the cost has dropped to a few cents. Not only have storage costs dropped, so have memory costs as they have followed the same price drop as storage. Taking advantage of lower costs; most DB manufacturers have begun offering high performance in memory databases (IMDB – In-Memory Database).
From an ECM perspective; because of the higher database costs, content storage solutions were designed to use databases to store only the metadata or the index values associated with content, and the actual files and documents were stored on cheaper file storage devices. While lowering costs, this approach meant that ECM solutions were forced with managing, synchronizing, backing up, and designing applications where index values were one place and the actual documents, audio/video files were somewhere else. Continue reading →
If there’s one message I consistently hear from customers today, it’s how big of a deal public disclosure is for the government and how we need better solutions around it. That being said, you would not believe how many of these organizations don’t feel that they have a good handle on their content.
In Washington State, public disclosure refers to the release of all documents and content to the person making the request. These documents at minimum need to be available for the requestor to view. There are some exemptions to this, such as sealed case files.
Good public disclosure practices really start with one thing: good record-keeping (and destruction). We hear time and time again from customers that they’ve never thrown anything away for fear that the document may be needed at a later date. While they may be thinking that this is the best way to avoid throwing anything away that should be kept, it also means keeping records that should have been destroyed.
Some aren’t aware of the fact that when a public disclosure request comes in, organizations are required by law to turn over any documentation pertaining to the request (as long as it is subject to disclosure). That means that if documents haven’t been destroyed and fall under the specific request, those documents need to be turned over as well, even though they are past the retention period. This poses a huge risk in regards to potential litigations.
Getting your records in order may seem like an overwhelming task, but here are some steps you can take to move toward better practices related to retention and disposition of records.
Understand YOUR Organization’s Requirements for Record Retention and Disposition Every organization is different. Certain records have to be kept longer than others, some records might need to be sealed, others may need redaction before they can be turned over, etc. Each organization, each department, even each business process may have different requirements around records. Determine and document what the requirements are so that when you start to do an inventory of content, you have a definitive plan regarding what needs to be kept and for how long. Click here for a link to the Washington State Records Retention Schedules.
Where are my Records?
Identify where records are kept. Are they stored on a network share? In a file cabinet? In a content management system? Somewhere else? Are they in paper form? Electronic? Are there video files? Regardless of where the documents are kept, the regulations are around how you get the content organized, not the file format or how hard the collection process is. This will help ensure that there are not duplicate documents, and if there are, that only the pertinent copies are kept so as not to be a factor in a potential litigation.
Perform an Analysis and Inventory of Your Records Some organizations choose to do this internally, some hire a contractor, and some take a hybrid approach. Regardless of which path you choose, determine what content you have, what needs to be kept, and what can be disposed of before evaluating any technology. This will keep you from bringing content into a solution that will need to be immediately disposed of after the initial analysis.
Choose a Solution that is Flexible and Easy
95% of organizations I work with are looking for a solution that is easy-to-use yet flexible enough to change with requirements. They want something that can easily set up to work with current retention and disposition schedules, yet can be updated without too much effort if laws or regulations change.
Trust the System If you’ve done the prep work correctly, then what you need to do is trust what you’ve put in place is going to work. Choose a good partner with a track record of success to help you.
These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about what can be accomplished around public disclosure, records retention and your content. ImageSource has been assisting customer partners with these types of solutions for the last 20 years. We have done everything from initial consulting through implementation and support. Below is a short list of some of offerings:
Expert consulting to determine your “as is” state and develop a plan to get you to your “desired” state using industry best practices
Assessment of your current technology and how it can be leveraged
Solution evaluation to perfectly match technology with your requirements
Solution deployment, configuration, training and rollout
Document collection, conversion, scanning, taxonomy definition and automated classification and metadata extraction
Ongoing partnership for system/process tuning, growth and support
Managed applications services
The ILINX platform can assist any organization with getting a handle on their content.
In previous blogs on this same subject, we have discussed the role of Executive Management in the overall Project Team effort. And what elements from the internal organization would likely comprise an effective team. In summary, vibrant and effective executive leadership is likely to be critical in solidifying the vision for the project. The target of effort to achieve project acceptance and enthusiasm is cascading in that the focus of executive leadership is middle management. The components of a project team may be different for each organization or type of organization – whatever best suites the particular organizational structure, and what special considerations there might be in the project (i.e. does it involve web content, collaboration, integration with ERP or SharePoint environments, etc.).
I discussed in Part 1 on this general topic that the strong support of the intended Project by executive management is a critical factor for success – they need to support the projects sponsor, and smooth the path of challenges that sometimes occur when change is contemplated. Vibrant and effective executive leadership is likely to be critical in solidifying the vision for the project. The target of effort to achieve project acceptance and enthusiasm is cascading in that the focus of executive leadership is middle management, and then it effort fans out to focus on users and supervisors.
From a user organization perspective, constructing an effective ECM Project Team needs to be on of the initial mandatory objectives and activities undertaken when implementing an ECM Project. Achieving this objective in its totality directly links to the success of the implementation of any major ECM project within an organization – whether it be for a phased enterprise or a departmental initiative.