Conducting a Business and Systems Analysis to Protect Your ECM Investment

By Grysiuk, Mark | Information Management, March/April 2016 | Go to article overview

Conducting a Business and Systems Analysis to Protect Your ECM Investment


Grysiuk, Mark, Information Management


To get the best "bang for their buck" from an enterprise content management (ECM) investment, organizations must have or be implementing a formal information governance (IG) program. It also requires them to incorporate a thorough business and systems analysis into the project plan, considering the scope of the technology for the deployment and any thirdparty applications that may be integrated in subsequent project phases. Just as important, they must invest the necessary time for training and awareness early to avoid a catastrophe later.

If the deployment includes migrating documents from network drives, local drives, and cloud-based e-mail providers, organizations must define the scope of the exercise and assign a reasonable amount of time to the tasks required prior to any migration efforts, including:

* Preparing stakeholders for network drive migrations

* Analyzing business processes

* Assessing recordkeeping requirements

* Preparing for document and e-mail migrations

* Building a sustainable security management framework

* Preparing to go live

Some of these activities may be conducted concurrently, using more than one information management specialist, records analyst, and business analyst.

Preparing Stakeholders

Setting expectations with stakeholders well in advance of the data migration is too important to overlook. Communicate early and often. Let them know a designated analyst may be stopping by to observe how users interact with applications and tools, including e-mail. Remind users that as part of the change management initiative, the IG team must thoroughly understand business requirements.

Keep users apprised of all activities and policy updates that affect them - including those who are on leave - so they will not be surprised by the transition that has taken place when they return. The more transparent the process, the greater the audience captured over the deployment life cycle will be.

Build strong relationships with the IG stakeholders in the business units. For example, work with human resources and others to ensure that the IG stakeholders' job descriptions and salaries are adjusted to reflect the expertise and the level of responsibility they must have to govern the organization's information as the valuable asset it is. Customize training to ensure that it fits each department's unique business processes.

Analyzing Business Processes

Be certain the project team thoroughly understands how stakeholders interact with information. Pay special attention to who owns information, where the source electronic records reside, security classifications, and vital record status. Include electronic form submission processes that notify stakeholders via e-mail alerts and the metadata associated with those forms. Ask about reports delivered electronically to designated network drive folder structures.

When observing stakeholders' computing habits, address these questions:

* Will users require mapped network drives? If so, it will require additional time for IT to visit workstations to install third-party applications and do the mapping. This activity should not be left to end users, who might misconfigure settings and prevent some ECM functionality from working.

* Do users work with large files? If a lot of large files are being moved at the same time, the spike in traffic can dramatically slow the system and frustrate end users.

* Do file and folder names use special characters, such as #, %, &, and *? Some ECM solutions do not allow special characters, so they must be replaced.

* Do users regularly interact with documents and folder structures containing thousands of files and folders? Because documents on a network drive are often linked to other documents on the drive, there's the risk of breaking those links when migrating to an ECM system. These living documents - those that are updated regularly - can within a very short period acquire thousands of versions in an ECM system. …

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