Thursday, January 11, 2007

Enterprise Content Management or Really Big Departmental Solution?

Enterprise Content Management or (ECM) is a bit of a buzzword for many organizations that I've dealt with. The vast majority of large to very-large organizations are using "ECM" as more of an exploded departmental implementation rather than as a true enterprise level tool-set. This is to say that the focus for content management is for the benefit of small groups of individuals, relative to the whole of the organization, rather than global use. This is OK for the most part as many organizations do not look at the hidden cost of a true ECM system. In this series of articles, I will explore the difference between departmental and ECM solutions, I will discuss the cost of ECM (in several different terms), and will hope to lead the reader to some conclusions as to the proper direction for their own organizations.

First, let's highlight the difference between enterpise content, and departmental content. Typically whilst consulting I will hear comments and phrases such as, "The internet marketing team needs to change content on our website faster to keep our site current and relevant." for example. This statement, while a powerful one, is directed at a specific set of users for a specific set of goals. It is very clear what is intended for content management. That said, this would be an example where a departmental implementation of content management would suffice. It is then the role of IT, or the independent consulting firm, to identify where the bounds of this request lie. It is possible that other groups within this same fictional organization are experiencing like issues with contracts, documents, and/or photographic studio's to name a few. Without additional groups to target, we're looking at a departmental solution.

Why is this important? Who cares if it is departmental or enterprise?

To put it bluntly, this determination is very important in the early stages of needs identification. Both business owner and IT representatives should have a firm grasp on the near and long-term goals of content management. The first and main consideration is the content management tool-set required to perform the task. If the organization in question has only one main group of constituents intending to facilitate one or more related activities, then there is no need to employ enterprise-level content management software. In a sense this is like buying the super-stretch Hummer® limousine when the party-bus will do. The previous being said, I've more often than not been prepared to offer up a nice concise departmental solution when a business or technology owner will drop a statement such as this: "We're having trouble synchronizing our web and print mediums", or "The process of getting a new product to market is very painful because of the many groups involved". These statements are often indications that there is a deeper need for content management and potentially business process management as well. I would then expect to reconsider the tool options to support multi-platform, open-integrations, and related "technology freedoms" that become available with higher end content management tool-sets.

So now we have a sense of whether our implementation is departmental or enterprise level. With this information we can begin to assess what the management structure for content management will look like. This is the main topic of my next article.

-Brent Kastner

1 comment:

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