The tyranny of “The System”

A primary goal for bringing technology into your business is to take away some of the repetitive or administrative tasks from your employees, such as…

Chris Wynder profile picture
Chris Wynder

December 16, 20193 minute read

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A primary goal for bringing technology into your business is to take away some of the repetitive or administrative tasks from your employees, such as invoicing, stock management or payments. This means that your goal for bringing technology into your business is to ensure that it takes some of the administrative load away from your employees.

Historically this meant a separate system for each function – finance, human resources, inventory management etc. This was great! If you worked in finance, you worked in the finance system. The data you required was inside that system and the employee could focus on the task of ensuring the finances were managed. Any data outside of the finance system was the responsibility of someone else, and if it was outside of their responsibility they could email someone to get a copy of the expense report.

These systems work great when they are used in isolation – when processes are fully contained, filenames and directory structures are fixed, and use the data structure of the proprietary database. “The System” was the governor of all business processes – there may have been problems, but generally it was an improvement.

Fast forward to today

Today, expectations have changed. Employees feel they can work better and more efficiently on their phones than on the systems they are forced to use at work. The limitations of software dictate how enterprises operate, making organizations reliant on complicated data structures that do not match how real-world operations and processes need to be collaborative across departments.

So what happens next?


Acknowledge that running an enterprise requires a complicated set of nodes (e.g. finance, HR, R&D, Sales) that need their own unique “language” to ensure that how they work is the same as how “The System” supports them. I call this the “Seagull problem”- an animal that doesn’t exist but everyone knows what they look like.


Figure out how to connect the nodes via a universal translator so that your employees don’t have to overload each other’s inboxes with requests for information they should be able to find and so that departments focus on collaboration.

This is really about having an information management strategy – and how to implement that strategy in a logical way that reduces non-productive work for every node. Back when I was a consultant we called this a faceted taxonomy – it was the top presentation that I would do and always garnered plenty of conversations.

It’s important to recognize that the technology exists to ensure that each group can work in their system without impacting the productivity of other nodes. The simplest way to start is with an Intelligent Capture solution which allows organizations to characterize documents at the front door and to automate the process of putting in keywords so that any department – finance, HR, legal – can find the document.

Capture is having a bit of a renaissance as organizations recognize that capture is a foundational technology in any organization. Intelligent Capture as a process automation technology – as opposed to OCR solutions like OpenText™ Capture Recognition Engine or OpenText™ Core Capture Services – is focused on every aspect of transforming in-coming content from any source into a usable information source that can be used in across the nodes of your business.

Interested in understanding how intelligent capture can help move you away from the tyranny of the system? See our video on Intelligent Capture.

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Chris Wynder

Chris is the Product Marketing Manager for Capture and ACM. 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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