The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good - Getting on the Right Side of the 80/20 Rule

By Greg Clark posted 05-17-2011 21:18


 I was in Edmonton, Alberta last week presenting at the first AIIM Western Canada chapter session to be held there. It was a big success and I want to thank Damian Hollow, Steve Widen and the entire AIIM Western Canada board for their efforts in  organizing this fantastic event.  For those of you in Calgary we'll be holding the same session on June 6th. Details and signup information can be found here.

The participants were a diverse group but there were many records managers in attendance. The session itself was very interactive and we had a great discussion about Microsoft SharePoint and the future of ECM.

One of the most interesting aspects of the discussion was an attitude shift from many, if not all of the records professionals in attendance. In the past I have observed that many RM-led ECM initiatives have focused on the records management aspects of the content to be managed.  Often this meant that end users were trained to file their documents into a structure that mirrored the corporate records retention schedule. While this might make perfect sense to records managers, unfortunately most users  in your organization are probably not records managers. As a result, many implementations failed to meet user adoption targets because users didn't feel the structures they were being asked to use fit the context of their regular business day.

I call this the 20/80 approach; 20% of your content is  managed perfectly while 80% is scattered across partially-deployed ECM systems, email inboxes and shared drives.

Amongst the records professionals at the AIIM event, however, there was a clear shift in attitude and approach over what I have experienced with similar groups in the past. They strongly believed that building business-focused structures and small-but-mighty metadata models tailored to core business processes  was preferable, even at the expense of "perfect" records management.  This is the manifestation of what I have long believed; it is better to have 80% of your content under some form of management even if this isn't perfectly aligned with the retentions schedule. Yes, you still need tighter management of a small portion of critical or high-risk content, but you should never let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

#ElectronicRecordsManagement #SharePoint #ECMBestPractice #Records-Management