The Road to ECM Hell is paved with good intentions: the Automated Approach (Part 3)

By Olivia Bushe posted 08-20-2014 05:12


This the third part of our series called The Road to ECM Hell. Check out the start of the series here

Software firms (with good intentions) have sought to provide the answer to the ECM Hell caused by the traditional approach to ECM.

Some have taken a more Automated Approach.

The Automated Approach decides that if the user can’t be trusted to define what information should appear in the central ECM system, then we’ll take all decisions out of their hands. Automated software will determine what information gets managed by the ECM system. It indexes content that exists throughout the organization, and determines during the index or through searching what should be stored or managed. Automatic categorization is used to define where and how the information is stored. The user can continue to access the information by searching against the system, or through its original location.

This is a compelling approach. If it worked successfully, appropriate information would automatically be added to the ECM system – users get access through search or through the original location of the content, and the organization gets control of its information. All ECM benefits are still realized.

If it worked that way, it would be great. However there are two major problems with the automated approach. These involve management and context. It is hard enough to manage the information lifecycle when you know information is correctly stored and categorized. With the automated approach, you need to add rules for determining what information gets stored and how it is stored. These rules are the difficult bit. They need to encompass all possible information to be managed – they need to cover current and future content types. They need to be constantly updated as the information changes. This removes the burden from the user, but adds a massive burden back on the information management team, to configure and manage these rules correctly. The second issue is context. You can search and find a contract – but how do you associate that contract with a particular project or client? Solving this problem needs more rules, and therefore means more headaches for the information management team.

So with the automated approach we are back in ECM hell ; not just because of user adoption this time, but because of additional headaches and workload for the information management team. Can we redeem ourselves with something other than the traditional or automated approach?

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