Poor technology isn’t standing in the way of employees using enterprise content. The culprit is change management, organizational structure, and accountability, according to a recent report.
The report, Connecting People to Content, is from APQC, a member-based nonprofit in the area of business benchmarking, best practices, and knowledge management research.
“Employees weren’t following the processes in place to manage content, or the organizations had not defined sufficient ownership models for the tools and approaches,” AQPC writes. The result was that fewer than one in four participants of a 500-person survey rated their organizations’ content management as “effective.”
Moreover, 43 percent said their firms were “minimally” or “not at all” effective at managing enterprise content. What is the problem? Forty percent of respondents blamed organizational structure and accountability, 38 percent claimed change management is at fault and just 22 percent named technology.
As part of the report, AQPC worked with five companies to determine their best practices in content management. These companies were:
- EY, a global audit, tax, transaction, and advisory services firm
- MetLife, a global provider of life insurance, annuities, employee benefits, and assets management
- MWH Global, an engineering and consulting firm focused on “wet”(for water) infrastructure
- Nalco, which specializes in water, energy, and air applications for light and heavy industry
- Wipro, a global IT services, consulting, and outsourcing organization
Through this research, AQPC came up with 20 best practices associated with improved enterprise content management. They fall into several categories:
- Developing a strategy to connect people to content
- Creating content people want
- Managing the end-to-end life cycle
- Ensuring content is findable and accessible in the flow of work
- Integrating content and social channels
- Managing change and evaluating success
For example, AQPC recommends that organizations clearly distribute accountability between those who own the content-related processes and systems, and those who own the actual content. “The best-practice organizations have massively different approaches to staffing and resourcing their content management programs, but they are unified in defining explicit roles and responsibilities for both content teams and suppliers and consumers of content out in the business,” it writes.
Similarly, AQPC recommends creating specific roles or processes to help identify content gaps. “Based on the content needs and demographics of their work forces, the best-practice organizations rely on subject matter experts or defined processes to surface gaps in existing content.”
Following the recommendations of others, AQPC also suggests that organizations look into ways to auto-populate or use standard metadata rather than expecting users to enter it all, because it’s a lot of work that users end up not doing. “Balance metadata requirements with the need for a streamlined user experience,” AQPC writes.
Optimize the content for your audience by providing mobile apps, using social media to gauge user needs and aligning the type and format of the content for its intended audience. “The best-practice organizations design their content to meet the preferences of an increasingly young, impatient, mobile, and collaborative work force,” AQPC advises.
It’s also important to know when and how to get rid of content, AQPC suggests. For example, content and repositories have to have clear owners who are responsible for discarding content that hasn’t been used or updated within a particular timeframe. Similarly, when an organization installs new technology, it shouldn’t just move all the old content over willy-nilly. Instead, like reorganizing a closet, use it as an opportunity to review the content and migrate only the relevant material.
Finally, organizations need to track the user experience and look for ways to demonstrate the value provided by the content. Use measurable data to track the health of the content management approach by measuring how many people are using it and how satisfied they are with what is available, AQPC advises. Also use this data to calculate the return on investment to show the business impact of the content.
It’s as true in content management as anything else: You can’t just throw tools at the problem. You need to examine business processes and workflow, or the tools just end up automating the existing imperfect business processes.
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