The Five Second Rule of ECM Content

By Marc Solomon posted 08-06-2011 22:43


"Making decisions is easy. Making decisions that people will support is not so easy." 
- Peter Block, Flawless Consulting

We all have our holding patterns around found objects -- whether it's unmarked currency, unclaimed winnings, or uneaten popcorn from the last showing. As managers of findability it helps to anticipate what kinds of intentions our users have in store for their to-do lists once the keywords, click-throughs, and downloads have played out.  
It's especially noteworthy when the users' satisfaction is settled by something as pure and simple as "date." Freshness or topicality substitutes for the more complex and subjective business of relevance, expertness, popularity, or level of detail (all inputs required to assess content quality and the outcomes of a productive search experience). 
But that all clarifying LIFO metric (last-in-first-out) is established by the files that float to the top of a library more than the latest uploads that rise to the top of the search rankings. Unless they've been mediated by a curator these new arrivals appear without labels, wrappings, or any markings to define context...
  • According to journalists -- The who, what, wheres of an inverted pyramid
  • According to experts -- How advanced or introductory the materials in question
  • According to IT -- Whatever hit the server last
Assuming that a partial answer (a.k.a. piece of content) is given one-tenth the focus of an entire search result page, we're going to have to revisit some key assumptions about user intention and producer outputs -- specifically the lack of documentation that live outside SharePoint documents:
1) Documentation-free documents
Remember the five second rule taught in mom school? It's really the .00005 second rule in the wink of a snap online judgement. If the document dropped out of my hard drive what are the chances some stranger would check it out, let alone lap it up into their awaiting queue?
2) Food for thought: You are what you eat
Even if an otherwise nameless document beckons through a suggestive title what are the chances that this orphan document will know it's parents or siblings once it assimilates into some new product family, practice discipline, or account team. Lineage is as important for sourcing the knowledge supply chain as it is for feeding our families through sustainable fishing, locally grown produce, etc. 
3) SharePoint is as SharePoint does (Metric of the future)
The reverse chronology date rank scenario throws another absurdity of ECM life into bold relief. Little if any of the work stored in many SharePoint shops are currently created, revised, or transacted within SharePoint. Hence uploaders bear as much resemblance to authors as upload events hold to actual delivery dates between project teams and clients. 
Platforms as Source Points
The stubborn limitations of current ECM realities won't meet or exceed the great adoption curve intimated in the  SharePoint hype cycle until the platform becomes invisible. That means the iterations, commentary, usage, and reusage (through tagging) will happen at the source. The source will no longer be isolated from the platform and distinctions like project management and document management will fall away. 
Hey, it's only change management when it's not so clear why those changes are in our user's best interest, right? That story is likely to change once they grasp the garbage in, garbage out equation as ECM producers as well as users.
As Mr. Block suggests, "Organizations work better when people get an opportunity to influence decisions that have a direct impact on their work." Our ECMs can not only expand this opportunity for our enterprises but benefit directly from this wider pool of user-producers.

#searchengineoptimization #ScanningandCapture #chronology #SharePoint #Hype #ElectronicRecordsManagement #changemanagement #documentation #sorting