Don’t just archive your content, use it when you need it

Whether you are dealing with student records, registration forms, accounting files, financial aid or any other departmental processes, the most efficient way to use the information and get it to your main system is to scan the documents at the time they are created or received.

If you wait until the end of the process, many people across your organization will have photocopied, faxed, emailed, sorted, filed and re-filed, creating massive amounts of unnecessary work, expense and wasted resources.

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The top 5 mistaken beliefs about content management

Your university may or may not have a strategy for managing content, the unstructured information streaming in and out of all areas of your campus on a daily basis. It’s likely you at least have a partial strategy where one or more of your departments is capturing and storing some type of unstructured information for later retrieval.

In a world where the use of digital channels is enabling organizations to synthesize large amounts of information in seconds, universities are making it a top priority to gain control of that rogue 80%, which is the approximate amount of unstructured information slipping through the cracks. This information is not easily accessible because it is scattered and isolated in departmental or personal file systems. This is the information employees need to do their jobs.

Information management 20% structured 80% unstructured information

University structured v. unstructured content

Content management services and software technologies have adapted to changing business environments so quickly over the past ten years, it is difficult to keep up with where the capabilities lie today. The following are five mistaken beliefs about content management and the facts that dispel those beliefs.

5. Content management is mostly beneficial for scanning and archiving documents.

Content management covers the lifecycle of information from creation and publication to archival and eventual disposal. One of the largest benefits of content management is enabling workflow automation. A perfect example is when someone in your organization wants to buy something. The individual begins to create documentation such as pricing research, correspondence, a requisition, purchase order, invoice and a contract to name a few. With workflow automation, these supporting documents are captured, routed and accessed interdepartmentally for approval, payment and auditing. Transactions are processed in hours or days instead of weeks.

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When In Doubt, Ask the User: And You Should Always be in Doubt

It’s a fact of life: Developers don’t always understand the end-user experience. Software programmers, as a group, are more comfortable designing and writing code against a written specification.

“The spec says to put the log file in directory XYZ, so that’s where I’ll put the log file.”

We are all sometimes guilty of this kind of thinking: “Well, the project plan doesn’t require a UI for the config file, so maybe I can get away without one, even though I know it will make life easier for everybody but me (because I have to create it)…” but it will always return to bite you in the backside. If there’s a concern in the back of your mind that you are maybe not doing the right thing, don’t just rely on the written documentation, go check with somebody.

The developer doesn’t always have direct access to the customers (and sometimes for very good reasons), but on each and every project we undertake, there should be a person (or even a group in a large organization) who is the Customer Advocate.

The role of the Customer Advocate could be performed by the Project Manager, the QA Dept, Tech Support,  the Product Marketing group, the Program Manager, or even, *gasp*, the customer. This role is crucial in helping make informed decisions about the product you are working on; this person is helping the customer “scratch” the “itch” which caused them to want to buy your product or engage your services.

Don’t just assume that your idea is going to work, check with somebody. A sample size of two is infinitely better than just you and your keyboard.

What brought all this to mind was a simple poll my boss sent out on LinkedIn, asking folks which additional vendor we might invite to our annual ECM Conference (NEXUS 2009). Instead of just guessing, he put out a poll.

Anybody who’s taken a Statistics class could argue with the methodology, but the point of this particular poll is not to predict a presidential election, but rather to solicit input and get some guidance.

This kind of thing can only make your software better.

If you want to see the LinkedIn Poll, you can try it out here

Martin O. Waldron
Program Manager, SW Development
ImageSource, Inc.

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