10 Commandments for an Effective Document Management Project
John Mancini

By: John Mancini on October 29th, 2008

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10 Commandments for an Effective Document Management Project

Document Management

10 Commandments for an Effective Document Management ProjectI was thinking at last week's AIIM roadshow about the ingredients that enter into an effective document strategy. Here are my Ten Commandments. They are in no particular order, except the first one is intentionally first (kind of like the real Ten Commandments).

  1. BUILD A STRATEGY. It sounds obvious, but I am amazed at how many organizations set out to manage their most important resource – their information assets – without a plan. The ingredients of such a plan are basic but are not simple. Inventory your existing assets. Define your business requirements. Map them to necessary technical requirements and systems. Identify the key integration points between systems. Do not neglect a governance or policy structure. Rinse. Repeat.

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  2. NOT ALL CONTENT IS ALIKE. As time goes on, I am increasingly drawn to the Connie Moore diagram of a couple of years ago describing three main content classes. I don’t remember if I have them exactly right, but they were something like this -- 1) Office/business content (primarily growing out of desktops); 2) Transactional or process content (stemming from document-intensive mission-critical processes); and 3) Persuasive or creative content (i.e., the intellectual assets that you need to protect). I think this description goes a long way toward describing the role that SharePoint plays in the future marketplace and the role that will be played by everyone else.

  3. THE NEED TO CONTROL IS NOT GOING AWAY – IT WILL GET WORSE. We’ve all had our fill of Sar-Box, and industry and country specific business documentation regulations, and new rules of federal civil procedure. But given the mess of the last few months, there is a new wave coming. A new wave of litigation as the blame game goes around and a new wave of regulatory mandates as Members of Congress find someone to point fingers at other than themselves.

  4. PERFECT IS THE ENEMY OF THE GOOD. Given the elegance and complexity of many full-blown ECM suites, I think we forget that for many organizations, just doing SOMETHING is a step in the right direction. Pam Doyle’s presentation at the AIIM roadshow reminded me that for many organizations, the “basics” are still not a reality. These organizations still spend, on average, $20 to file a document. $120 to find a lost document. $220 to replace a lost document. These are organizations that lose 7.5% of their documents and misfile another 3%. For these organizations, just getting started (hence the attractiveness of SharePoint and open source solutions like Alfresco and SaaS solutions like Spring CM) is a major accomplishment.

  5. RIPPING OUT AND REPLACING IS NOT A VERY ATTRACTIVE STRATEGY. Early adaptors of document technologies typically have 5, 6, 7, or more major content repositories from different vendors in their organization. For those in the banking, finance, and insurance industries, the complexity will increase exponentially as the survivors assume ownership of the victims. Managing information separately from the repository in which it resides -- through a framework of vendor-agnostic policies and services – will become critical. As nice as it would be to start over in a single infrastructure, for most organizations, this is just a pipe dream.

  6. IT WILL BE A HYBRID WORLD FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE. See #5, but think in terms of all the efforts to digitize “everything” in those paper archives. Most of the stuff in box storage will not go away. Get over it and look first toward minimizing what is being ADDED to this mess. And for the necessary backfile conversion you DO need and want to do, for heaven’s sake, don’t do it yourself. There are more productive uses for your people. Hire a service company that specializes in this.

  7. GET TOUGHER ABOUT ROI. This is a mainstream set of technologies. This sizzle is no longer in the technology but in the applications. Most organizations don’t have an IT bench strong enough and deep enough to buy technology. Buy applications. This means find integrators and resellers with domain and application specific experience. This will become even more important in the tight times we are entering.

  8. CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE CONTENT DELIVERY MODELS. See #4 and #7. There are so many more choices out there than there have ever been. Check them out.

  9. STANDARDIZE WHAT’S COMING IN. The velocity of your business – no matter what it is – is increasing like never before. You need to speed up to keep that business. That means take a hard look at what you’re sending out. How much of the paper that must be ingested is in response to the paper that YOU send out? Nip it in the bud. That means push capture as close as possible to the point of document creation – distributed capture is one of the easiest ROIs to demonstrate. It means thinking beyond static scanning and archiving and thinking and the capture process and extracting information from paper. Whenever we do a capture survey, I am usually surprised at two things: 1) how high the perceived ROI is for those who push information extraction and automation technologies like OCR and ICR and OMR and barcoding; and 2) how few organizations that are ALREADY doing scanning take advantage of these technologies.

  10. KEEP DIGITAL WHAT IS ALREADY DIGITAL. There is interesting research by IBM that focuses on the tendency of organizations to convert information that is ALREADY IN AN ECM SYSTEM to paper and then weave the paper back into their processes. And then push the paper back into file cabinets. And then – you guessed it – ship it off to box storage. Don’t do this. In even simpler terms, think about the signature component of your documents – is this automated an inherent to the digital document, or do you print something out in order to sign it. Don’t do this, either.

So there it is; my ten commandments for an effective document management project. I will try to resist the Moses-like impulse to throw these commandments down on the floor and smash them to smithereens when I get off this airplane and go back to AIIM HQ tomorrow and find that we are still manually processing expense reports.


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About John Mancini

John Mancini is the President of Content Results, LLC and the Past President of AIIM. He is a well-known author, speaker, and advisor on information management, digital transformation and intelligent automation. John is a frequent keynote speaker and author of more than 30 eBooks on a variety of topics. He can be found on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook as jmancini77. Recent keynote topics include: The Stairway to Digital Transformation Navigating Disruptive Waters — 4 Things You Need to Know to Build Your Digital Transformation Strategy Getting Ahead of the Digital Transformation Curve Viewing Information Management Through a New Lens Digital Disruption: 6 Strategies to Avoid Being “Blockbustered” Specialties: Keynote speaker and writer on AI, RPA, intelligent Information Management, Intelligent Automation and Digital Transformation. Consensus-building with Boards to create strategic focus, action, and accountability. Extensive public speaking and public relations work Conversant and experienced in major technology issues and trends. Expert on inbound and content marketing, particularly in an association environment and on the Hubspot platform. John is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the College of William and Mary, and holds an M.A. in Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.