From ECM Project to Steady State

One often overlooked, yet critical component to enterprise content management (ECM) implementations is role design and ownership for post go-live sustainability. We find that many tasks that are project intensive activities are left unmanaged and unattended once the application is in steady state.

This experience is more commonplace with small-scale ECM implementations, while we’ve seen the same issues with large-scale deployments, as well. Project managed structured communications, change management, and training programs are orchestrated during the project’s solution development lifecycle; application governance and operational support tends to default to IT project stakeholders post implementation. This may suffice for organizations with a strong PMO group and well-defined content management roles; it often becomes unsustainable for long-term ECM manageability and growth.

Specific areas that often go overlooked post-implementation for enterprise content management maintenance and support includes content architecture maintenance, site and collaboration standards adherence, and content management practices. Governance and organization role design to manage these ongoing activities should be defined during the project to assure maintenance and growth of your ECMS.

Content management system maintenance is well understood when reviewing application tasks required to assure the system is patched, upgraded, and within parameters for ECM and search performance. However, providing the governance and controls to monitor content types, metadata, and taxonomy structures typically go unattended. We’ve entered many clients where the unmanaged system has become what they refer to as “the wild west.” Assuring that content types are consistently defined, commonplace to users, and have the ability to be leveraged across the enterprise is not only important for storing content consistently, but extremely important for improving the ability for users to find content at point of need.

Maintaining content types is part in parcel to maintaining managed vocabularies and taxonomies. Managed vocabularies are lists or choices under specific topics (i.e., States, Business Units, Locations or Branches, etc.). There’s tremendous power in managing structured lists at the enterprise level to avoid duplication, enhance synonym usage, and to avoid user error. Managing taxonomies, or hierarchical lists or groups of metadata, can be very useful when leveraged across business units for storing and finding content.

Having clearly defined and managed content types, metadata, and taxonomies within your enterprise content management system is only half the battle. It takes concerted effort in support and maintenance to provide users with guiderails, or standards for use of content and collaboration site capability. Creating and providing templates is preemptive activity that will help guide standardization, but with increased knowledge of your ECM application capability comes increase configuration and customization by your user base. Without proper oversight and management, many ECM and collaboration efforts become managed chaos when site and content standards are not provided or reinforced.

Providing guidance on proven content management practices will also assure that content in the system is up-to-date, properly tagged and titled. Leveraging ECM functionality will allow programmatic management of stored content throughout the entire content lifecycle.

In some organizations, the scale of ECM activities outlined requires specific roles to manage and execute tasks. What we typically see is the addition of specific tasks to current roles to take on the added responsibilities of providing governance and operational support to users of the ECM. Careful planning and design during the enterprise content management project will assure that roles and responsibilities are in place for post go-live success during steady state operations.

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