Whether teaching, lecturing or just talking about enterprise content management (ECM) with folks, one thing commonly told to me is that the technology is in place, but the findability situation is still no better than it was. Findability of information is still a major challenge and concern even when search engines are used. Many cite that their organization had/has implemented technology to manage their content, but they are still in a state of information chaos. They can search, but they still have problems finding exactly what they need. Sure, they get a big list of items, but it is not always what they wanted.

When I ask about organization of their content, I often get the response that management thought technology would solve the problem. I often hear that management’s view of taxonomy, metadata and information organization is the stuff of librarians and records managers—isn’t it amazing, though, how when you go to a library, you can find the book you seek. Then they point out that what they have witnessed is the migration from a “digital landfill”–shared network drives and local hard drives–to a “digital dumpster” where the information is contained but still not findable and, certainly, not cleansed.

In my view, technology implemented for the sake of technology will not work. There must be a reason and a plan as to what the technology is supposed to do. If you want the technology to find your information, you have to make the information findable. If you want to use it to organize and manage your business information in accordance to business and regulatory guidelines, you have to set the parameters. It certainly will not replace the human factor when it comes to organizing your content to support your business. Organization of content is vital to the success of an ECM environment and your business operations. 

"Organization of content is vital to the success of an ECM environment and your business operations."

The first steps in any project should be to audit, inventory, cleanse, organize and prepare your content
for migration into your chosen technology. Do a quick audit of, say, five percent of your information to get a feel for what you have, and begin to assess the structure and identify patterns in the way content is currently managed. The inventory is a more detailed look at your content to identify the specific elements of content you own, and cleanse the content, ridding it of ROT–Redundant, Outdated and Trivial– information. Once this task is complete or even in parallel, you can begin to organize it in ways that support the business, and then prepare it and your selected technology to migrate it into the assigned corporate repositories.


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