In a previous post titled, ECM Critical Success Factors, I reflected on a number of factors that I believe contribute to ECM success; strategically oriented leadership, learning orientation, experienced based subject matter expertise, communicating realistic expectations, and focusing on organizational readiness. I also touched on Top Ten Characteristics of a Really Good Business Transformation / ECM Project Manager.
There are a couple of other ECM critical success factors I'd like to explore in this post.
Think Enterprise Architecture
Even in the context of implementing Basic Content Services, it is very easy to succumb to a focus on technological views, opportunities, and challenges, in particular given the growing technical complexity of organizational technology infrastructures. One of the failures of many ECM projects is an insufficient focus on business processes / requirements and the needs for managing information created in those contexts, resulting in unusable solutions, significant resistance to change, and perpetuating of the status quo of managing, nor not managing, information.
This is where an Enterprise Architecture view, and even a partnership with an Enterprise Architecture group, is essential. Regardless of the approach, Enterprise Architecture / Architects focus first on business architecture, then information/data/applications to enable the business, then the enabling technology.
Not respecting this order of analysis / design, or attempting to do all three simultaneously during an ECM implementation, creates unnecessary complexity, anxiety and cost/schedule over-runs.
Having Enterprise Architecture as a key partner in the early planning / analysis and design stages can be of significant value.
Use Knowledge Management for Successful ECM
If you can stipulate that, differentiated from Information Management, Knowledge Management focuses on the processes / practices that enable people to share what they know, learn from each other, and work effectively towards a common goal, then knowledge management is a significant enabler of an ECM project or program.
ECM brings together a number of often competing perspectives - external supplier, client, service provider, project management, internal partner - and a number of disciplines - communications, IT, IM, security/privacy, legal/audit - with divergent interests, understanding, and language.
Combine this with the propensity to assume that "magic" happens when all the "right" people are in the room, and you've got the proverbial recipe for disaster.
Applying a knowledge management mind-set to shifting how people work together will ensure that:
- learning before, while and after doing is embedded in the way the ECM project is scoped, managed and delivered and communicated
- people effectively work together towards common goals, and personal / hidden agendas are subordinate to the common ones
- problems / issues are properly identified and dealt with quickly productively / transparently
- positive attitudes and a sense of team accomplishment is pervasive, rather than negativism / defeatism, and individualism
Traditional "waterfall" project management, as often applied even today, has an underlying presumption of predictability. Project managers, project sponsors and key stakeholders presume a high degree of certainty / accuracy about the breakdown/ scope of work, schedules, resource use and costs, even when the project is large, complex and spans a year or more.
Unfortunately, given the complexity of organizations, and the pace of change everyone experiences, little works out as planned.
For most ECM implementations I strongly suggest an approach that explicitly embeds experiential learning and re-planning / iteration at FREQUENT key points in the project – and most importantly, sets and manages stakeholder expectations accordingly.
Some recommended reading/references:
The Blending of Traditional and Agile Project Management (PM World Today - May 2007 (Vol. IX, Issue V)
Stage Gate Process – divides project work into phases related to key management decisions.
Mike 2.0 – links agile project management ideas with ECM/IM implementations.