Businesses today understand that information is one of its greatest assets. Information takes many forms – customer information, application and design information, internal documents, webpages, product collateral, video and audio recording, blogs – you name it.
Properly and appropriately curating, storing, disseminating and protecting that information is one of your greatest challenges. Legacy and homegrown CMS can’t handle nor present the plethora of new content types. One-size-fits-all vendor solutions are too closed. And neither have evolved to reflect the way today’s companies, their employees and their customers actually work. So with the New Year just started, let’s resolve to fix that.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll detail four essential steps you need for defining a new ECM strategy. Whether you have:
- a legacy system that needs to be replaced
- an aging or closed vendor solution that needs revisiting
- a plan to future proof your infrastructure, or
- no current strategy at all
…these steps can help get your new ongoing ECM strategy off to a successful start in 2016.
Before any you start any effort to replace, renew or create a strategy, though, there’s one critical element without which your project will surely fail: Buy-in from your stakeholders. All of them.
But just who are your stakeholders for a new ECM strategy? And why do you need their enthusiastic thumbs-up and dedication, before you begin?
Who are your stakeholders and why do they care?
We’ve already said that information is the lifeblood of your company. If you think about it, everyone associated with your organization uses it in some form or another.
That means that same “everyone” should have stakeholder representation when it comes to information assets. From company executives to marketing and sales, from customer service reps to IT, and from partners to customers… everyone. They all need to understand why a solid ECM strategy is so important – not just to the company, but to them personally.
Executives have to understand the need to modernize the ECM strategy – and most importantly that it’s more than just an infrastructure project. If they don’t see how it affects the company’s bottom line, drives business efficiencies, and keeps you competitive, they won’t properly fund it. Without real funding, you’ll end up with a half-baked solution that can’t serve your internal users, partners or customers.
Content curators are whoever or whatever creates, obtains or maintains all that information, in its many forms. These persons want to believe there’s a better way to manage all the documents, pages, reports and customer data. Without their buy-in, no solution you create will ever gain real acceptance.
Your users – employees, partners, customers – have all come to expect simple, intuitive access to information –from anywhere. Consumer apps on smart devices have set expectations for how users interact with information. Their input is critical for your new strategy to gain acceptance.
Involve them and they will come
Information doesn’t exist solely for IT’s use. So how can managing that information be undertaken as an infrastructure-only strategy? It can’t. Yet so often, information projects start off with “IT requirements” and go from there – and it is these projects that fail.
In a business-centric world, projects have to address the challenges of business users and their work environments first. Before anything else, we must understand how that information is curated and how and why it is accessed by its many users. Otherwise, how can we expect to devise a strategy that actually facilitates – rather than impedes – meeting our business goals?
The key is to involve stakeholders who represent your business community, before you even begin defining a strategy. It’s not enough to just tell these groups you’re working on a new strategy. They need to know their input will be essential throughout the process.
You won’t get all their requirements on Day One, of course. What you need, though, is their trust that you’ll build a strategy around their needs, their work habits, their productivity. Once they know you’re listening to them, then you can proceed to Step 1.
Next week, we’ll get into that first step, an assessment of what you already have. Until then, remember: Without stakeholder buy-in, any ECM strategy you develop will miss more marks than it hits.