Round-up of our latest co-creation event on information management 03/12/15

For those who missed it and those who want to relive the highlights

An excellent event with great participants and in-depth discussions. One of the participants actually touched me by her words:

I'm so happy to be here, this is the one place for me where I don't have to explain the importance of information management. Being amongst peers is reassuring and enlightening.

I couldn't have said it in any better way. I would like to share some highlights and lessons learned at the event:

Sessions on unstructured data (Documents, e-mail, ...)

1. Localisation of information

This workshop addressed the issue of the location of documents in an information architecture. Where do we place documents if they belong in several places? How do we align our records management strategies with this?

  • Make sure you have some sort of unique ID per item and add mechanisms to filter out duplicate items
  • Add context to documents using taxonomies, e.g. project number, process name, owner, …
  • SPOT & SVOT : single point of truth (only 1 location for a specific item), single version of truth
  • Management buy-in is essential to the success of information management efforts. Get your program on your directors' agendas. Use change management strategies to get end-user buy-in as well.
  • Phase your program, start small, grow steady
  • Make sure you're talking about the same thing, adopt a glossary and process map
  • Use a metadata model to visualize/navigate to data differently
  • Develop an information lifecycle strategy

2. Structure vs navigation

We can't assume users will know where to put information, we need to guide them. This session focused on how structure and navigation work together (or against each other) to provide a good user experience.

  • Use structure to save items as well as search for them. But add metadata (automatically) to allow easy searching as well as a content discovery strategy
  • Use your business processes to structure your processes
  • Make sure every item has an owner that knows about the content and context of the item
  • Beware when archiving items automatically : it's not because the archival due date has passed, that the item is no longer needed
  • No one size fits all
    • Every organization does it differently
    • Every process or sub-structure may have its own peculiarities, respect them
  • Have an information structure owner

3. Main structure for your information

When it comes to structuring information, there is always a top-level structure, unless you're going for an all-metadata approach (which we don't encourage for reasons beyond this blogpost). So what's your top-level strategy? Departmental? Process-centric? Case-centric?

  • Use the most stable factor for your highest level of information architecture, e.g. don't use departments if the change every few years
  • Put static data in a process structure, use tags to add context
  • Put dynamic data in projects, use structure to add context
  • Both "tagging" and structure are necessary in a good information architecture
  • Keep governance and control in mind at all times
  • Try to automate tagging as much as possible (including OCR e.g.)
  • Think about how new employees can get introduced to the structure easily
  • Think about the importance of business processes. Is your organization ready for its everyday use to structure information? Make sure end users are familiar with the concept of business processes.

LoQutus feedback: in our own experience, we've found that free tagging is typically not well adopted by end users. Asking specific questions with specific taxonomies tends to be a better approach. Instead of calling it "tagging", call it "adding metadata", this helps shape end-user expectations.

Sessions on bridging the gap between structure and unstructured information

1. Strategies on obtaining a singel point of view on enterprise contacts

In this workshop a real-life case from Port of Ghent was presented that involves rethinking the customer relation journey.

  • Assign a central contact manager (it may be a bottleneck however)
  • If you do not put this role in place, make sure there is a good cleanup/merge utility or automated functionality
  • Chose a strategic factor from these options: time or quality
    • Time will allow you to quickly make edits and they will be visible and searchable instantly, but may lack data quality at times
    • Quality will allow you to guarantee quality but may affect update and retrieval time
  • We've found that the focus on quality is a typical focal point for public services/servants

2. How can we integrate business process across content and data management systems?

This session tackled a common problem: when do workflows become too large for a dedicated system to process? When to apply an actual business process engine and when to keep using your LOB system' workflow capabilities?

  • Look at the reality:
    • Is there a history or legacy on business process automation?
    • How will users access this data? If they tend to use your portal, that may be the ideal candidate for process automation for example.
  • In the case at hand (2 examples), the following choices were made:
    • For the document approval flow: use Chimps (enterprise content management system)
    • For the CRM process: look for case management tools on top of existing solutions (if possible)

3. How can we integrate gulley (= rioolput) documents with geographical information systems?

Another hands on session where we validated a concrete example on how to combine structured geographical data with corresponding documents from an authentic source.

  • Use the strategy that reaches the goal fastest for the business (quick win in this particular case)
  • Chimps is the default location for files of type "PDF"
  • The group chose option # 3 as this will save time, effort and costs and the most stable factor is the gulley ID

Sebastiaan Mindreau