Creating an ECM Organization Structure: Part 2 - Sample Structures

By Greg Clark posted 09-06-2011 12:09


In Part 1 of this post I talked about the roles and responsibilities that make up an ECM program team. In this edition I will share some sample organization structures and discuss some considerations when creating an ECM team within your organization.

Before I go on I wanted to thank everyone who read the article and especially those who provided feedback. Based on the statistics it seems that Part 1 was well received and I hope you find the second half just as useful.

As before, you will need to take the elements of these structures and weigh what will work within your organizational context.  My hope is that you will be able to use some of the elements of these structures when creating an ECM organization for yourself. 

The following three structures are scaled for small, mid-sized and large organizations. Again, these are not the only possible options but I have found that our clients have had success implementing ECM using structures similar to these.

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The most important aspect of this particular structure is that the ECM group is not part of the IT department, Legal group or even an administrative or business services group. This organization has chosen to align ECM with overall business operations in a group called Technical Operations and Competence. This division is responsible for helping the organization achieve operational excellence across their core business, and includes such functions as Engineering Standards, Maintenance and Reliability, Environment, Health and Safety (EHS), Training and Development, and, finally, the ECM function.

The concept of moving ECM out from under IT applies equally to smaller organizations although there does need to be a certain level of scale to justify moving ECM into it's own area. One key benefit of this model is that the ECM team is able to focus exclusively on the business benefits of content management and not get caught up in the minutiae of IT systems operation. This is not to say that the technology aspects or ECM are not important; as I said last time the best ECM solutions come from open conversations with your technical team.  However, the root cause of many failed ECM implementations is an over-emphasis on the technology and not enough focus on the business problems ECM will address.

You have likely noticed that this structure doesn't reference an executive steering committee.  That is indeed a shortcoming of this particular structure, although this is offset somewhat by the fact that the team reports into a Vice President. Also, there was an executive steering committee in the initial project phase of this particular ECM program but as the ECM team transitioned to an operational mode it was decided that reporting to a single VP was sufficient to ensure business alignment.

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This organization shares many of the structures used by the larger organization but the key difference is that this group reports into IT (although the overall program is guided by an executive steering committee to ensure proper business alignment).

The other important aspect of this structure is that the core ECM roles report into a Director of Information Management, who has a dotted line relationship with the technical personnel responsible for ECM development and day to day operations. Again, I believe this separation of business alignment and technical execution is important to ensure that the ECM solutions continually focus on providing business value.

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This organization has a small but mighty ECM team and again reports into the IT function. The fundamental ECM roles have been collapsed down into a smaller group but note that there is a specific role focused on Change Management.  This was the topic of the comments posted in response to Part 1 of this blog, with one person going to far as to suggest that the acronym ECM should stand for Enterprise Change Management.

I won't go that far but I do agree that one of the keys to any successful ECM program is to ensure that your user community is ready, willing and able to adopt ECM-based business processes.

Finally, there is a shared accountability for managing the tasks of the ECM Operations (and development) team between the IT Manager and the ECM Program Manager. They report directly to the IT Manager but have a dotted line relationship to the ECM Program Manager to ensure they are engaged in meeting the business objectives and strategies set out by the ECM team.

I hope you have found these posts to be useful. I welcome your comments and would be happy to share further observations and experiences in the comments section or directly. You can drop me a note on Twitter @GregClarkC3 or send me an email at

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