You CAN have your user information and manage it too

This is the fifth and final in a series of posts highlighting the emerging trends and issues of information management, cloud-based file sharing, and collaboration.

So now that you know that you have an information management problem which is primarily caused by poor support for user barely repeatable processes…what do you do?

Let’s start by acknowledging you are not going to extend or expand your ECM to provide customized instances to every group of users. The cost is prohibitive unless you are such a high risk industry that the risks are too large to live with any information outside of a highly secure system (e.g. National Governments, Defense contractors). If you don’t have intimate knowledge of ITAR and DoD 5015.2 you are not part of that group. Therefore your strategy needs to be focused on providing the UIM and EIM tools that make sense for your organization’s risk and productivity needs.

The good news is that the width and breadth of the UIM market(s) means that you can support your strategy at any price point- if you gather the requirements properly and convey those to vendors in a cogent manner. Focus on the use cases and less on the technical minutiae, for UIM products this is almost irrelevant during the comparison shopping.    

You, as the CIO or Information System manager need to understand the flaws and risks that are involved with each different ECM and EFSS product and rationalize their purchase based on the EIM or UIM use cases that you need to support. In my opinion, there is no real strict line between ECM, Collaboration and EFSS anymore…especially from a technical standpoint….it is all just different use cases and feature focus by the vendor—they all do content management in one way or another.

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CIOs need to balance use cases/requirements with need to mitigate risk.

So how do you choose the functions, and therefore the appropriate product, for your UIM strategy?

Fundamentally it really comes down to:
1.    What do I currently have in place for my EIM platform and does it meet my needs?
2.    How much do I care about the risk of allowing users to manage their own content?
3.    How much access do they need to tactical and record type of information to do their job?

At its core the UIM is a cloud-based junk drawer—a barely organized storage area that provides the productivity tools for users and risk mitigation for the organization. What you need out of a UIM is a “core” set of ECM functions which provides the organization with a logical, integrated approach to moving important files between the personal and departmental domains.

It has to support group document editing; seeing the changes made, knowing who made them and what the next steps are; provide the appropriate controls that users can make use of regulated data in the same place as the live document; and lastly, the UIM must have enough long term potential to warrant a directed approach and investment compared to the multitude of free tools out there. IT must be able to see a path to wide adoption and technologically align close enough that it can be integrated into business processes in the same way that fileshares and ECM are being used.

Beyond the user and organizational needs, IT has to get something out of the purchase as well. The solution should provide IT with a tangible win for at least one of these criteria:
1.    Storage win: reducing the duplicates and moving content to a cheaper storage point can reduce storage budget.
2.    Eased discovery: the product needs to align with current eDiscovery processes or ensure enough visibility that easy to implement frameworks such as the EDRM can be implemented on the audit logs and version history.
3.    Low administrative overhead: the product has to have access and identity controls that align with current practices and technology.

It truly is an exciting time in information management. The technologies are starting to catch up with the needs, and user proficiency is as high as ever. The biggest roadblock to major progress is that we, as IT, often complicate the matter by believing that information management and storage are somehow entirely different considerations to be managed by different groups.  When it comes down to it, it is all just storage media, and should be managed with an integrated, rather than segregated approach.

If there is one thing I would tell today’s IT information managers it’s to stop thinking about price and complexity of the solution to your information management problems as the primary problem. Focus on the needs of your two stakeholders; the users and the enterprise, as without a thoughtful, logical plan for how business pain and productivity get better, no one will listen.

No one outside of IT cares about technical complexity (they should, but don’t), they want solutions and they expect you to handle the details.

So how can IT get from admitting that there is an information management problem (blog 1) to the path to a meaningful solution (where I hope I leave you at the end of this blog)?  With a little bit of input from all 3 groups (IT, users, and the business), you can start solving that problem in the very near future.

As IT, you have to define how much pain is reduced by better information management; the users must provide the collaborative processes that need to be supported (blog 2) and the types of functionality that will enable them (blog 3); and the enterprise needs to describe the parameters of the information management portfolio and risk (blog 4), and of course, the budget.

Once these are in place the conversation can begin around rationalizing existing tools for ECM, EFSS, Collaboration, and anything else that falls under the EIM umbrella (including the rogue UIM tools already present in the corporate landscape), identifying the gaps, and determining the fit for a centrally deployed, supported, and most importantly, managed, User Information Management solution.

Chris Wynder

Chris is the Product Marketing Manager for ApplicationXtender. He has a wealth of information management knowledge, particularly in highly regulated industries. He shares his deep belief in analysis and taxonomy as the basis of good information governance in his blogs.

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