Two people building a strategy on the whiteboard.
Building Governance into Your Content Management Processes PHOTO: Shutterstock

Most organizations managing enterprise content have their Microsoft stacks, SharePoint Office 365 files shares, email and a variety of other physical and electronic cloud-based solutions. “What we've been wondering about and worried about for a long time is, is it possible to have one ring to rule them all?” Mike Alsup, Gimmal founder, asked during a recent CMSWire-Gimmal webinar. “To have one place to define information policy and then federate that policy to a variety of platforms.”

Maybe “ruling” isn't the right word. If you’re trying to coordinate and define policy for records and governance in one place and integrate to various repositories, Alsup added, you’ll learn that governance isn't the same for all repositories.

Gimmal shared these thoughts and some others on delivering unified governance in the New Year.

Take a Lifecycle Perspective

Put a lifecycle perspective on all content in all repositories. It doesn’t mean that the content is moved, but rather that policy is enforced according to a set of rules and agreements, Alsup said. IT, records, legal and the business departments collaborate on the policy based on the kind of content and the rules for processes.

Policies can be frequently associated with content through tags and information lifecycle. It includes the inheritance of metadata on a piece of content when it's uploaded so that users don't have to enter that content. Most importantly, Alsup added, make sure you have consistency and simplicity from a user perspective so that users aren't confused by the process — a problem so many systems have had. 

“Many of the repositories, even in the largest organizations, are still ungoverned. Users find it hard in many of these environments to classify content and the overall result is that organizations are at risk,” Alsup said.

Brace for Move to Cloud

Which content repositories are moving to the cloud in 2018? All of them, according to Alsup. Large organizations that have maybe 10,000 SharePoint sites could face a five- to 10-year transition of content migration to the cloud. They need to figure out how to architect and migrate their content solutions to the cloud in a way that's defensible when they're called upon by the courts to stand and deliver, Alsup said. 

“Obviously the rules are different outside the US than inside the US but defense ability is an important consideration for all the large organizations that we've worked with what's happening in the cloud,” Alsup added.

Most organizations will be moving to the cloud with Amazon, Microsoft or Google Cloud and using the Microsoft solutions. “The strength of these vendors, I thought was made perfectly clear as SAP announced that they're moving all in with Microsoft Azure Cloud and using the Microsoft solutions," Alsup said.

Double Down on Office 365

One of the innovations with Office 365 is a product called Advanced Data Governance. It is a strongly in-place solution, Alsup said. Microsoft hasn’t really opened it up to be able to be integrated in some of the ways that systems like SharePoint on-premise were integrated in the past.

“We believe that there is important white space that's available for partners with Microsoft,” Alsup said. The key thing to understand is that business solutions is what will drive Office 365 governance adoption in the enterprise. 

“This has been the tradition with enterprise content management for the last 30 years,” Alsup said. “People have been implementing content management systems because they wanted to do accounts payable or they wanted to do contracts or HR. The partner opportunity is especially strong for business solutions that require a content governance foundation and subject matter expertise in order to deliver them.” 

Hybrid ECM Realities

Screenshot on the CMSWire-Gimmal webinar on the path for enterprise content management going forward in 2018.
Click on this image to access the on-demand version of the CMSWire-Gimmal webinar, "ECM in 2018 – the Path Forward."

The buildout of governance into Office 365 over time will be compelling to organizations from a capture point of view. Microsoft isn't really building the capabilities that vendors like KnowledgeLake or Kofax have been putting in place for scanning, camera capture of documents and the transformation of those documents applying cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to recognize the content, Alsup said.

“There are going to be a lot more business solutions, vertical business solutions and horizontal business solutions. These will require a level of subject matter expertise and on-the-ground implementation support that is just best provided through partners” Alsup said.  

For the foreseeable future, Alsup said, most organizations are not going to be 100 percent on any platform. “There's going to be a need or hybrid content management, which includes on-premise solutions and includes non-Microsoft repositories and the transfer of content between those repositories that includes connectors that definition," he said.