Lean ECM is by no means a unique or revolutionary concept. It is becoming, in my experience, the key to successful ECM deployment in large organizations. We have all seen the sales pitch for ECM that promises “return on investment” (ROI) for ECM and then watched as the budget gets trimmed on the program as that expected ROI fails to materialize. So it is safe to say that an ECM program must be lean in deployment, execution and maintenance over the long term in order to maintain success. In other words it needs to start and stay lean and nimble. How?
- Define Success – Take the time to define what success means for your ECM system from a client perspective.
If there is a problem finding documents, try to measure it, quantify it and determine the scale of the problem and impact on the business. Don’t just make it up, measure it!
- If you have legal holds or discover costs count them up or at least estimate the risk and potential costs. Talk to the legal department.
- If confusion of information adds time to product development, calculate the time to market cost associated with it. Talk to the product or service delivery managers.
- Once you have the costs of not doing it “right” then calculate the potential quantifiable benefit of doing it right.
- Determine how that would be measured and reported in observable actions or events.
Measure Business Benefit – Put measurement actions into your long-term governance planning.
- Determine how to measure the factors you previously determined and put them into an action plan.
Add any new tasks or reporting to job descriptions and responsibilities
Include these measures in performance reviews
Provides reports to the business and “blow your own horn” in a factual way
Keep looking for improvements and measures
Find the Fat – It is great to follow procedure, adhere to policy and support standards, but you need a cycle of constant improvement that challengesthestatus quo. Management will have no trouble cutting your budget if they feel pain and you need the ability to adjust in mid-flight. So,rather than cancel and de-fund projects because your structure is too expensivetomaintain services, re-examine ways to streamline your processes (proactively).
Examine you policies and procedures and map the duration and effort for each flow so that it can be seen visually.
Identify the “hot spots” which form milestones in the process flow or attract large amounts of team effort.
Identify tasks or process items that expose the project to risk of delays, re-work or negative visibility
Talk to the experts (SMEs) in the organization as to why things are done the way they are currently done
Call out and identify the “fat” as potential improvement areas.
Think “Out of the Organization” (OotO)
It is really hard for employees and consultants in large organizations to justify doing things differently, especially when the people they report to hold a differing opinion. Constant improvement needs to be in the culture.
Large organizations are risk averse and slow to adopt change so this can be counter-intuitive
Get senior management sponsorship (VP level) for your initiative and let the authority flow downhill other wise you will be fighting “city hall”.
Conduct workshops with stakeholders to brain storm solutions
Look for disruptive technologies that may be emerging that replace the “fat” or streamlining process
Have Projects within Projects within Programs to Match the Long Term Vision – You need to plan to revisit your program on planned intervals that span annual budgets. You will need to have a program steering committee with executive support andsponsorshiptomaintain along term vision and avoid having your initiative cut because the commodity prices for your business have slumped on the open market ( for instance).
Define a long term plan with periodic reporting and plan adjustment factors built in.
Make sure reporting of metrics are maintained and escalate resistance points. Be prepared to sell the existence of the initiative.
Stay vigilant to trim fat from process and redundancy. Keep sorting your spreadsheet to look for costs and durations.
Shorter duration and more streamlined processes enable to you respond more quickly to changing business requirements and keep your client base more happy. They also allow you to sell services more competitively.
Shorter duration of modular process steps also keeps the budget down for long term maintenance and changes to the system.
So, by maintaining your long term program in a lean plan you can embrace more agile project management techniques and provide more flexible and responsive services to the client base. After all, is it not the case with ECM that some one is always trying to say things like:
“the client stopped using the ECM system and went back to using the share drive because we could not change this “x” functionality”
” it takes too long to fix things”
“we don’t have budget to customize or fix that feature”
“that department must bear the cost for that integration”
” the money for customization ended with the deployment project and now in the “run and maintain” mode we just do break-fix updates until the next project gets funded” (by that time everyone hates your deployment and you need to find an exit for your career)
“the tech support person just said to reboot your machine and closed the ticket”?
To keep your ECM new and shiny to the business you need to be nimble and agile in responding to the business and that means having visibility in contributing to the bottom line of the business. So, be nimble and lean with ECM, measure your metrics and sell your success across the long term vision. Good luck!