Since paper free in ’93, we’ve heard that we’re on the cusp of solving the information management (IM) problem, yet time and time again we keep getting it wrong and dashing all those high hopes in the process. So what’s going on?
To me, the IM space is a lot like fitness and nutrition, where we can get so hung up on the latest set of foods we can (or can’t) eat that we forget that the transformation required to be healthy is more foundational than what we do (or don’t ) eat; it’s about our core orientation to wellness (nutrition, fitness and lifestyle).
It’s the same in IM. This or that technology capability to use (or avoid) is not going to solve the IM problems we face. Digitizing paper, applying a workflow or an advanced case, collaborating on it in a social platform, taking it “to the cloud,” managing it as a service, or serving it up mobile — none of it matters if your fundamental orientation is unsound. And at most organizations, despite good progress at some or in pockets at others and a tremendous amount of time and money spent at all of them, the fundamental orientation to IM is unsound, often very much so.
Okay, enough griping, let’s look at what you can do to develop a sound approach to IM at your organization:
1. Understand How IM Impacts Your Value Chain
Forget ARMA, AIIM, etc., best practices and focus instead on what it is you do to make a living. I bet your leadership knows how the management of your physical and financial assets impacts your value chain and I bet they can articulate it without reference to GAAP or any of that — learn to do the same for IM. It’s not about best practices, it’s about managing information effectively to meet business objectives.
2. Make IM an Integral Part of Business Activities
You don’t stop making or selling your products to “do financial stuff.” Financial stuff is part and parcel of those business activities — do the same for IM. Because if IM is an afterthought — some hat employees put on at some isolated point in the information lifecycle so they can “do IM” — they won’t.
3. Own It
IM can’t succeed if it’s relegated to IT, records management, compliance, legal, risk — no single function can be effectively responsible for making sound IM decisions for the organization. Instead, IM needs to be owned at the enterprise level, with stakeholders from across the organization taking part in the decision making and execution of IM.
The Final Word
Well that’s my two cents on the state of IM today. If we continue to chase the latest fad technology capability we’ll keep yo-yoing between content bloat here, over-retention there, and the road to managing our information more effectively will continue to be littered with digital landfill after digital landfill — only the acronyms will change, the same fundamental problems will remain.
Title image by Eternalfeelings (Shutterstock)
About the Author
Joe Shepley is a strategy consulting professional living and working in Chicago. In his current position as Vice President and Practice Leader at Doculabs he focuses on helping organizations improve how they manage information using technology and processes.
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