Implementing ECM into Your IG Strategy

Drew McCollum, Director of ECM Solutions, FileSolve
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Drew McCollum, Director of ECM Solutions, FileSolve

Twenty years ago, it seemed the future had arrived.

In the late ’90s, the term “document management” was   replaced by a newer, fresher term that encompassed a   more robust content management approach: Enterprise   Content Management, or ECM. Since then, the ECM industry has become one that specializes in technology and services that manage all content surrounding   business transactions. From on-boarding to accounts   payable, all content has been consolidated into a single ECM strategy and system. It’s goal? To deliver the   right information to the right people and processes at the right time, and in the right context.

"As the expense of information migration will only increase as the demand increases, it’s better to modify an ECM strategy now than later"

Today, with the proliferation of tools surrounding ECM–including mobility, the cloud, big data, line of business application integration and analytics–two important questions arise. “How will your organization adapt to the next 20years of ECM strategy?” and “What does that strategy look like?” One thing is for certain: your strategy will have to adapt to an emerging technological trend–Information Governance (IG).

By definition, Information Governance is the set of multi-disciplinary procedures, principles, and controls that manage the entirety of an organization’s most valued asset–its information. The goal of IG is to maximize the utility of that information while minimizing risk. A sound IG strategy works in conjunction with an umbrella of regulatory policies that monitor the operation, security, dissemination, storage, retention and destruction of information. ECM is a single component that must fit within this regulatory model. Information governance will oversee management of all content material, including customer case management, servers, desktop and cloud computing, mobile devices and even physical files and records. After all, we have proven to ourselves that no one system can manage all information and there will have to be a system that will bridge together, manage and report on all of these assets.

As ECM continues to evolve, tools will continue to be built around transactional data to satisfy the changing needs of the industry. Soon, ECM vendors will have to build capabilities that modify, govern and report on the way that content is stored within an ECM system. Doing so will provide valuable, executable information that companies can use in real time.

Our industries are constantly expanding or contracting. Along with those changes come a myriad of technological pressures and new business requirements. The technological curve is getting steeper and the data that surrounds business is growing exponentially in both volume and complexity. Mergers and acquisitions, multi-jurisdictional laws, management control, security and profitability all drive governance – but risk mitigation is the ultimate equalizer.

Sarbanes Oxley (SOX), HIPAA, FERPA and other litigation control measures have been passed to rightfully protect the consumer. Organizations have had to invest in technology that is compliant with these measures to reduce the risk of breaching them. The same sort of measures will soon be applied to mitigate the risk of loss or exposure of our informational assets. A sound Information Governance platform and strategy will need to be implemented to provide organizations with the controls to measure the risk of–and defend against– lawsuit. This strategy will also work to audit and measure the value of informational assets as an organization’s “worth” will soon stretch beyond financial, human and intellectual capital.

FOUR STEPS ON THE ROAD TO INFORMATION GOVERNANCE

1. Create a steering committee that includes representatives from every department

The first step is to create an Information Governance steering committee that will explore “informational silos” within a company and report on the policies that surround each. This committee must include representatives from departments across the enterprise to ensure that the rules, regulations and policies that cover the various areas are both represented and understood. This group will work together to build the Information Governance framework in which the managerial policies necessary to enforce IG compliance will be created.

This steering committee must work closely with legal counsel to record and document all policies that affect the respective departments within an organization. Continuous reporting of the current content of those policies should also be regularly maintained for ready dissemination to all members of the committee.

2. Ensure that all information intended to be captured aligns with company agenda

The second step is to ensure that all information reported upon is aligned with the agenda of the organization. Here, an estimated timeline to implementation (including documentation) and a corporate communication plan can be created. Remember, this is the framework that will support a larger Information Governance system of record. Policy is now paramount, and the governance and execution of this policy should now be essential to the steering committee.

3. Make certain that IG policies govern the information important to each department (destruction, retention, etc.) without sacrificing said content’s security

The third step is to make sure that the required components remain repository independent. Policies ought to cover the way information is stored, not the system in which it is being stored in. Just as ECM monitors content that makes up a transaction, Information Governance covers all data that makes up an organization. Technology must be in place to report on the condition of the content, and more importantly, it must be able to regulate the storage and destruction of said information.

4. Explore software programs that offer interfaces into your business’s various applications

ECM platforms have matured since the ’90s. Today, they provide an open database schema that allows for insight into the transactional content it maintains. The fourth step is to explore IG software that offers Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) into your data infrastructure to allow for control, reporting and enforcement. It is important that the ECM database schema you select is open, that there are APIs available, and that the files within it are kept in their native format.

ECM is here to stay, helping businesses in a variety of industries to improve their processes and workflow. The way you work is changing, and a reassessment of your ECM strategy is imminent. As the expense of information migration will only increase as the demand increases, it’s better to modify an ECM strategy now than later. Choose the right ECM system, and your future is bright.

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