Last week, we explained how to go about getting business sponsorship for your new ECM strategybefore you dive into the deep end. By mapping your initiative directly to one or more of the company’s strategic goals, you’ll gain the executive support you need, not to mention adequate funding.

Now you’ve gotten the stakeholders on-board and the business leaders behind you, you’re ready to begin the planning itself.

This week, we’ll discuss the first of four crucial steps in defining a winning ECM strategy: a detailed assessment of what you already have.

Why analyze the current state?

In the rush to create a new information strategy, companies often try to skip “Step #1.” Why bother with the current state of things, when you know you need major change?

The problem is that most companies don’t have a holistic view of their current state. In fact, even if you’ve documented your information landscape in the past, things have likely evolved since then.

If you’ve been adapting your solution over time to meet changing needs, you need to take a good hard look at your current state. After all, how can you know what needs to be changed if you haven’t got a handle on what you already have?

What needs to be assessed?

Think back to the primary use cases from last week. What role does ECM play in furthering the overall business strategies? Let’s recap some typical use cases:

  • Curate/disseminate information as a competitive differentiator
  • Better manage information assets and improve operational efficiencies
  • Harden infrastructure and ensure regulatory compliance
  • Foster innovation in products and service delivery

Your current ECM strategy may not address all these use cases – that’s why you’re looking to modernize it. The current solution likely also enables other needs not expressed by the high-level use cases. So note both the old and new use cases, and keep a general score for how well each are addressed today. (We’ll use this as an input to later step.)

To assess the current “as-is” landscape, answer the following in detail.

  1. What content types do you curate, store and disseminate (CSD)?
  2. Inventory each type, using an automated tool across all repositories, if possible.
  3. How well do you support each part of the content life cycle? This assesses the relative success of your current solution.
  4. What are your information journeys? Who uses the information and why? This documents the business processes your ECM supports, as well as the actors involved – internal users, business partners, customers, etc.
  5. What technology infrastructure is involved?
    1. What software, hardware and cloud vendors does it use?
    2. Which content is stored in which repository?
    3. How is access granted or restricted to each audience?
    4. What applications and, more importantly, which versions are being used? Are you on the most current version?
  6. What are the gaps in the current state­? What are the manual steps and workarounds required in current business processes?

Don’t expect this to be a short document. It requires a lot of detail from a lot of different players. Ask questions!

Not just an exercise

There’s another reason to document the current state. Teams often assume the current strategy/solution is chockfull of irreparable holes. The only thing to do is start over from scratch, right?

Maybe. But a current state assessment can identify the good, too – the pieces that still perform their jobs well enough. That way, you avoid reinventing the whole wheel, when only some of the spokes need fixing.

In any case, this step will start the stakeholders thinking what they’d like to see in the new strategy. We’ll get into envisioning your future state next week. Until then, remember: Before making a future plan, you need to know what already works, what doesn’t and why.

To learn more about aligning your ECM strategy with your business’s goals, download our whitepaper below.  

ECM Strategy Paper