Digital Transformation: Beware of Elephants and Gorillas
Robin Woolen, MBA, IGP has worked in the field of information lifecycle management since 1994 with a specialty in strategic consulting focused on enterprise-scale information management.

It seems that everyone these days is racing to transform their organization in order to take advantage of the Big Data wave. As I’ve been saying for several years, Big Data and Business intelligence are important and valuable technologies every organization should implement if they want to keep up with their competitors. For many, this means implementing a document or content management system to begin to organize their environments and move away from an infrastructure based primarily on unstructured network shared drives.

Most organizations struggle with an antiquated system of network shares organized around departmental silos and personal folders. Nothing says unstructured data like trying to find something in someone else personal network share folder. However there is an elephant in the room that nobody is really talking about and that is Microsoft Office 365.

In the Information Governance world Microsoft Office 365 is the 800 pound gorilla of email and business software. Microsoft Office has been the standard for business productivity for decades and they have made even greater inroads with the introduction of their web-based Office 365 product. It is inexpensive and requires less maintenance or staff to run it, so why wouldn’t you go for it? And Businesses have, implementing the entire package and “freeing” themselves from the constant challenge of maintaining licensed software in house.

Don’t get me wrong I think Office 365 is a great idea, but for an Information Governance professional this platform creates an entirely new set of challenges. The first being the creation of a whole new set of personal drives where people can squirrel away potentially important information. Microsoft OneDrive is basically a rebranding of SharePoint and, as such, should be configured before realized into your organization because if you don’t it will become as big of a mess as your organization’s network shared drive environment.

You only get one chance to make a good first impression with any major technology implementation.
ROBIN WOOLEN
It is very important to take the time to configure the custom content types with your organization’s record schedule, the metadata manager and create a consistent template for the entire environment from a User Experience perspective that provides a user-friendly environment from login to departmental collaboration sites within the system. While this sounds like common sense there are a lot of vendors out there that skip over these steps because of the time and money involved. Believe me when I tell you to take the time to sit down and really plan this out. You only get one chance to make a good first impression with any major technology implementation.  Your organization will be much happier with the end result.

Once you have the system set up, the next challenge is what to do with the data that is already there in your old system. Data migration is a common issue whenever you implement a new system. My recommendation is to move as little of the legacy data as you have to, based on the current need. The reason is that the vast majority of it is ROT (Redundant, Obsolete and Transitory) data and you do not want to move trash into a new house. Moving the data that people are currently using you makes the transition into the new system easier and encourages people to begin using it. Change is always hard and one of the best ways to encourage the change is to make a clean break with the old system.

If you have an old document management system, set a definite end date for it and stick to it. If your organization uses network shares to save and share information, then set the access to these shared folders to “Read Only.” In this way, your staff still has the access to all of their legacy data, but they can not add new information to the folder itself. Anything of value can be migrated into the new environment. Eventually, the old network share environment can be safely decommissioned because the data it holds is no longer needed.

This is not to say that Microsoft Office 365 is the be-all, end-all for document management systems. There are many others that are a better choice depending on the organization’s needs. I am saying that it is a fact of life regardless of the organization that needs to be accounted for. Digital transformation is also a fact of life in today’s business world. It is important to remember the elephants in the room when you are trying to plot your course to the prize.

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