If The C-Suite Really Knew How it Got There
Standing in a CEO’s office pointing at the paper on the desk, you ask, as a sliver of view into the productivity in the organization, do you know the path that one of those documents took to your desktop?
It was emailed between several people as an attachment and someone spent 45 minutes looking for what they thought was the best version, but couldn’t find the most current updates. Someone else then took 35 minutes to re-create it. Someone spent 25 minutes comparing versions just to be sure. Then someone else re-purposed it into a different format and that took 15 minutes.
Before you argue that didn’t happen to this document, maybe not this one, but to hundreds around the organization it is happening every day, every hour and minute of the day. And it is a 25% productivity hit.
We organize our structured data and tightly manage our databases, and who has access to what data elements, but our unstructured content, whether a Fortune 500 or smaller company, follows the same approach it has followed for the last thirty years, where folders and documents are randomly created in siloes with small organizational groups. Security is cumbersome and relegated to antiquated ways of managing access. We invest in tools that help us find whatever we are looking for wherever it is and that is a beautiful bandaid and expensive, and not a solution.
For an enterprise to manage its information in an appropriate manner involves three foundations:
(1) A common information structure with parent-child relationships, not unlike those in structured databases but of a slightly different nature, and these need to be in a common structure for each uniquely functional area of the enterprise. The functional unit is less susceptible to organizational change and it is impractical from a governance and access control management perspective to have one structure across the entire enterprise
(2) An industrial-strength content management tool because these common structures are not how individuals think about their work or their path to their information on a daily basis. So the content management tool provides each person with their own unique way of viewing the common information, but one person’s preference does not affect the other’s views and does not affect the common structure.
(3) Access control is based on roles, where roles are managed in the central directory and each role points to a folder or set of folders to which that role has access depending on what it does in the organization and each business unit manages who is in their own roles and roles can be shared across business areas if that business area chooses to allow another role to access their folder or set of folders. This becomes a much simplified but more secure approach to Governance of information, whose concept is greatly complicated by disorganized information in a non-functional structure.
These three foundational pieces will provide an enterprise with appropriate organization of its information so that it is collaborative, productive and digitally competitive. In fact it could be argued that an organization cannot make a digital transformation until it makes an information transformation.
Recall that Google and the other search engines only have access to less than 1% of the world’s information. The rest of it, more than 99%, is behind enterprise firewalls and it is a horrific mess of disorganized silos whose methods and approaches to enterprise information management have not changed since the advent of computers and the users were permitted to right-mouse-click create a new folder at any level and thereby introduce entropy into the enterprise information management structure to the point where today in over 90% of the worlds enterprises, a disorganized approach to enterprise information management introduces a 25% waste in productivity across the board.
If the C-Suite knew how those documents got there and the gyrations taken in their path, and the lost time that could be applied to other productive activities, there might be some impetus to get something done.