Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Funny IA Thing Happened on the Way to Consensus…

July 4, 2014

I’ve wondered for a long time why intranets and information / knowledge management solutions are always built from the ground up as ‘start from scratch’ projects. After all, if you stand back and look at organisations, they each have similar high-level capabilities. Each has operations, corporate services, marketing, service and product development, and finance & procurement functions.

I’ve long held the view that ‘process is king’. As an Information Management professional, I believe all content is produced by business processes intended for the support or consumption by other processes. Given that, I also believe information architecture should be process-centric.

I recently ran a workshop called Process-centric Information Architecture and Governance (which can be seen on SlideShare here). In the workshop, after taking participants through the a high level, process-centric information architecture, I asked them to do a group exercise. The exercise involved them developing a high level capability model which could be used as the basis of an information architecture for their organisations.

Each of the groups had participants from at least three organisations. Organisations ranged across government and the private sector, mainly large, with participants primarily being Information Managers.

After 15 minutes, I asked a representative from each group to stand up and explain their model, after which I asked a couple of questions:

  • Did each group member believe their model could be used as the basis for a capability-based portal for their intranet?
  • Of the three models (three groups), which did they feel was the best for their organisation?

Each group member believed strongly:

  • Their model could be used
  • Their model was the best of the three

The take-aways from the exercise are:

  • High level information architecture CAN be applicable across organisations. (If there are no widely accepted models used today, this doesn’t mean it won’t come about tomorrow.)
  • Collaborative, inclusive decision making results in strong and committed ownership, and a shared vision. This is why it’s important to build high-level models in consultation with your key stakeholders, and bring them along on the journey

On a final note for this blog article, I’d like to say how impressed I was with the participants in my workshop. They listened with an open mind, thought about the challenges I presented them with, and each contributed well. In this game there are no answers or models which are ‘rightest’. The key thing of importance is that you have a thought through model you can explain to others.

 

Elements of an Intra / Extra / Internet Governance Plan

November 1, 2011

In my previous occasional posts I’ve talked about important success factors in getting the most business benefit from Content Management System based applications. Intranets, Internets, extranets and ultranets (ie. an integrated fusion of knowledge management systems) aside, you can happily build line of business solutions using CMS, especially using content management, forms and workflow. Even better with metrics and reporting. I’ll expand on that in a future blog.

Factors contributing to success (and for that matter issues and risks to be overcome) should be part of a Governance Plan. Your Governance Strategy should cover two main parts: Implementation and operation (ie post-implementation).

The main elements of a Governance Strategy / Plan are shown below:

Main components of a content management system implementation and governance plan

Generic model for governance of ECM / CMS based solutions

We have developed a detailed Governance Plan, which includes many templated resources, and found this invaluable as a starting point for new projects or projects which are in strife. Don’t get too hung up that is says SharePoint – the model is generic and can be applied to any enterprise content management project.

There are many different variations of governance plans, and each project / organisation will have differing needs. It’s important that each element is considered.

One common characteristic of content management projects, far more so than for other IT solutions, is that you find yourself in a constant state of discovery. Just about every day you will find ideas for new applications of benefit in support of business processes. You can’t do them all at once, but it’s important not to lose track of these ideas, and to have an evaluation process that assesses ideas and turns them into reality. In the Governance model above, this is covered under the Benefits Realisation Strategy.

In my experience, it’s rare to see much if any attention paid to a Benefits Realisation strategy, or to have it as a formal part of an ECM project. But like most things, if you don’t actively manage benefits, then you’ll rarely fulfil them. Aspects of a Benefits Realisation Strategy include: Establishment of a Benefits Register; mechanisms to gather feedback and ideas; an assessment and approval process; funding; reporting and post-implementatino review.

At one client, the approval process was tied into general project approval and funding processes, owned by the Finance department. If an idea was assessed as meeting or exceeding a threshold value then it was mandatory to formally consider it, and if approved, funding was automatically assigned.