Content, Records & Forms: Lands of the Lost

By Steve Weissman posted 06-08-2011 12:10


One of the (few?) perqs of being a consultant in this space is the opportunity to spend time in a number of professional disciplines. For me, the usual suspects are content management, records, and forms, plus business process management and knowledge management as well. And as I’ve written around before, it’s striking how much these fields overlap in terms of both best practices and technology stacks.

But one characteristic they share is downright scary, and that is just how lost they often are in the operational hierarchy – at least until some kind of crisis bubbles to the fore.

· Forms people are especially vulnerable right now as IT staff continues to usurp their role in the name of Web interface development – never mind that the traditional forms principles of usability, design, and management still should apply.

· Records managers are also feeling the pressure, though perhaps to a lesser degree since CFOs and legal teams well understand the need to track, audit, and retrieve critical business documents on demand, and can’t execute these functions themselves.

· Content folks, on the other hand, are kind of caught in between. Properly utilized, they are free-range animals that touch all ends of the organization – and as a result, they aren’t tied to one particular function or department. This makes them difficult to buttonhole and makes unclear whether they ought to be celebrated or feared.

The key to overcoming these varying degrees of marginalization can be found in one word: marketing. If you’re a professional in any of these arenas, you have to start making your value known lest the shadows you live in grow ever darker. Consider what would happen if you went on strike, or took an extended vacation – the problems you can see forthcoming are your first clues as to what to promote about your role, and to whom, so you can be found.

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