The moving toy trains concept of an ECRM Program
Those who develop an ECRM Program within an organization know how many moving parts there are within the program. Depending on the results of the current assessment one could be starting a program where nothing is in place; no capture solutions, no records management policies, no retention schedule or even if they have one it sits on an island without record series connecting to any particular document types, no e-discovery solution, multiple ECM systems in place and yet most of the data remains on network drives, no email management solution, no vision regarding information management from upper executives, etc. Dream job for a RIM Professional right? Sure! When can you start? Or more appropriately where or how do you start?
My analogy in developing an ECRM Program is envisioning laying down tracks for multiple toy trains that all have specific routes to follow and they all intersect each other at some point or the other. It does not matter where you start developing the program if you know what you end goal is. The beauty of a messy situation is that you can start anywhere and still end up cleaning all or part of it by just doing something. In our case it is okay that we do not have the support or vision from the executives. So top down approach is not going to work unless we want to spend all our time, effort and money to convince them otherwise. Instead, the smart thing to do is to pick up a small process and see if we can organize it a little bit. See if we can make friends within the middle managers and get them to understand a small concept regarding ECRM. Only a small spark is needed to light forest fires! Just like bad things, good news, good things and good habits spread too. Put together a small capture solution for a department that is begging to get their information online as opposed to going through paper. A small project but if it is successful it will start spreading. Soon we will have others who may inquire and eventually buy in into a capture solution. A small spot capture solution can then be standardized and put on a pedestal as an enterprise capture solution. It will still be a small flash of light for the executives but they will notice it. Capture solutions invariably lead to consolidating of ECM systems that our friendly vendors have sold to us. Soon, through guidance from the RIM professional it is evident that we need to have one good ECM repository for all our content. Thus begins the process of managing information and the introduction of the subtle concept of governance! Consolidation of such large volume of content into one repository definitely leads in some sort of information organization or architecture. That could easily be turned into an enterprise taxonomy project even though it could start by developing small departmental taxonomies. With the development of taxonomies we can now easily introduce the concept of tying them to the record series within the retention schedule and thereby start building the information asset map within the organization. Soon it is evident that we need more tools to manage this information, we need tools to dissect information into parts where we can tell which information is of business value, transitory only, official record, etc. Thus begins the journey to electronic and physical records management. Soon we are looking into why we produce so much paper and the attention turns to concepts of “image in lieu” and “business process automation”. Policies are being formulated to discard paper and paper records that could be saved long term in an electronic format only. Understanding of official records leads to understanding of legal holds, e-discovery, etc. Now we are looking for tools to send out legal holds and to be able to collect data on e-discovery requests. Soon we are educating employees on new policies regarding information management, creating awareness in managing information as it gets in at the point of entry, and training employees on new tools we have put in place for them to be able to manage their information…
Toy trains are now running on tracks that have been laid down. Trains representing capture, e-discovery, Paperless workflow processes, Image in lieu, retention refresh, records management, etc. on tracks of enterprise level software solutions for capture, e-discovery, ECM repositories, Governance, Information lifecycle, Email management, etc. Each train overlaps on these tracks but the art of the program is to not let them run into each other. Slowly but surely the program gets developed by laying down tracks one after the other and letting the trains go around. Then as needed, watch and observe the trains, thereby carefully auditing the program and making changes as necessary without disturbing the small toy train world you just developed!
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