Kylemcnabb_3By Kyle McNabb

While we all wait and watch numerous economic indicators (my favorites are easily found in the WSJ) to see if the US economy, and possibly others, will head into recession, here’s a thought – just a simple thought – on what you can do if/when you get the call to pull back on your ECM spending. Turn you attention now to understanding your organization’s business context. I’m not referring to business requirements – most of you have business requirements related to your ECM endeavors. Instead, I’m referring to discovering how your business people and business processes work with and use content, not simply how they manage it.

Lack of adoption plagues many ECM initiatives – many of you live with this issue. And our ECM research over the past 18 months reveals a good reason why adoption’s such an issue – most implementations fail to take into consideration business context. To put it bluntly, implementation teams know who their users are, but they know very little about the people that will use the technology. And focusing on users often leads to implementing technology in a way that materially changes the way people work…a big cause of poor document management adoption in particular.

We’ve learned from many enterprises with successful ECM initiatives that focusing on business context helps. How? It allows them to build up profiles on their people, not as users, but as people that just happen to use ECM technology to get their daily work. They’ve basically adopted, to a degree, the marketing practice of customer segmentation and persona design and applied it to their employees (more to come in the next few weeks on this topic…what information & knowledge managers can learn from marketing). As a result, they’ve been able to fit ECM technologies into how their people work, complementing they way their people work instead of materially changing what they do.

You may get asked the question "What can we cut?" Well, maybe, just maybe, focusing on business context will allow you to tell your management you may not have to replace that "unusable" ECM system with something new. You may find better ways to put what you already have to better use. Business context matters.

What do you think?