Who are your information workers? Who needs to know about things like metadata and taxonomy and tagging and search terms? Who needs to understand workflows and retention periods and legal holds and the declaration of records? Who needs to know the difference between PDF and PDF/A? OK, anyone who doesn’t know where this is going, raise your hand and (and plant it firmly on your forehead).
It’s time for Information Professionals to stop asking and start demanding that the rest of the organization accept the need to understand the basic fundamentals of content management. It’s time for Information Professionals to find someone in their organization who can require that all information workers understand the fundamental best practices of ECM. I know it’s time, because I hate the term “fundamental best practices” and I just used it. It’s time, it’s time for three reasons and they’re cumulative.
If you don’t understand the fundamentals you won’t be able to do things correctly and every mistake can’t be automated out of the process.
People need to know why documents need to be scanned to a produce a searchable PDF. You might be saying “you can automate that via scanner settings” but people have other scanning options than the centralized scanners on your network. If people don’t understand what metadata is and how metadata is used, they may not choose it correctly from a list. They may not give you all the options that need to go in that list in the first place. If the metadata isn’t required, they may not even enter it. When people have to store information, the only thing they want is to be done – the faster the better – let’s get this over with. You can’t make every term required, so you have rely on people to do their job.
The fundamental we just discussed at the AIIM New England Chapter event was confidentiality. One of the things we talked about is how when people don’t understand why we have access controls and permissions, they share stuff with people who shouldn’t have it.
If people don’t understand the capabilities of the ECM platform you’re using, they can’t be trusted.
People need to know why we use version control and how to use version control. If they don’t, they will continue to name things ‘myDoc-draft.docx’ and ‘myDoc-2ndDraft.docx’ and ‘myDoc-final.docx’. People need to understand why we implement approval workflows, especially when they are the approver. People need to know how we use Content Types and metadata to distinguish between types of content or they will continue to create folders and sub-folders. People need to understand how Alerts work and how links work or they will continue sharing documents as attachments to email.
When it’s automated and wrong, it’s really bad.
When automated systems or workflow enabled business process are first put in place, people are interested and maybe even a little impressed. A few weeks or months later, they have begun to take the automation for granted. A year later or when a new employee starts; those automated bits are just the status quo. Everything that’s automated is accepted by most people at face value. If I search for a particular term and I get 50 results, I would never consider that there are really 53 but that 3 were scanned as images. I would never consider that there are matching documents that don’t have the metadata set and aren’t being included. I would never consider that 5 of the 50 really don’t belong in the result set because they were inappropriately approved.
Businesses would never tolerate a person in the position of approving an expense report who didn’t understand the account structure that expenses should be assigned to. They would never tolerate managers who didn’t understand sick and vacation policies. They wouldn’t let people travel without an understanding and appreciation of company travel policies. The time has come for businesses to no longer tolerate staff who don’t understand the value of information, the way information is managed and the features of the system in use to automate that management. OK, end of rant.
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