Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Expert AIIM Article: Are Records Management and Usability, Together, Even Possible?

By Errin O'Connor, Founder & CEO at EPC Group.net

October 25, 2011 - 6:40 AM

Why are 75% of the organizations in the United States (with an enterprise presence) looking at implementing a records management solution and why are they drawn so much to a particular Microsoft platform?

Can you have an enterprise content management (ECM) \ enterprise records management (ERM) solution with an easy to use interface that users are drawn to? How about a centralized platform that the organization can use as a Service? Lastly, can the organizations Intranet be seamlessly integrated as well as your file shares, exchange public folders, and other online or proprietary applications?

Ohh, and its needs to be accessible via an extranet and on mobile (Tablet and smartphone) devices as well.

The answer to these questions is why FileNet, LiveLink, Documentum, eRoom, and about 15 other platforms I can think of are losing market share by the day. I know I may get the “open source” and Microsoft detractors or those whose technology platform are in the direct line of fire of this tool or whose online “cloud” service can’t match up (comments), but that is understandable.

I thank my lucky stars every night that I joined the right team. Implementing a multi-million dollar ECM\ERM solution several years ago and literally having users not use it has happened all over the map. Enter SharePoint 2010…

I will also play devil’s advocate for a second as I had an interesting conversation with a client the other day regarding their company’s new records management plans and future roadmap. The organization had already made its mind up that SharePoint was not a true records management platform.

In fact, they did not even want to see a live demo of 3 different Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions that EPC Group had built and were in production for 3 Fortune 500’s that everyone would recognize as almost baseball and apple pie in the U.S. Did MOSS (SharePoint 2007) cause this? Probably so, and if all they had seen was an out of the box “record center” in MOSS than I can hardly blame them. In SharePoint 2007, there was a whole lot of customization \ configuration that had to be done to compete with the FileNet, LiveLink, and Documentum’s of the world.

It was very possible but not very attractive to the masses. In over 150+ implementations of SharePoint 2007, my teams and I at EPC Group don’t disagree on what you may have seen in MOSS (out-of-the-box) but SharePoint 2010 is a whole different animal and SharePoint 15 is not going to be any different…but back to the main point.

Why have so many Fortune 1000 organizations aligned themselves and committed to a SharePoint future roadmap strategy? They combined Gartner leading quadrant records management requirements with a tool that is easy to use and can meet the needs of 10 different enterprise requirements including social\professional networking and guarantee of a solution that will be around for at least another decade.

What would users think of when they hear the word usability or just “easy to use”?

•Effective and efficient in supporting work
•Easy to learn and memorize
•Error tolerant and efficient in error recovery
•Allows for a pleasant and safe working environment
•Making sure our end-users have an easier time learning new training, remaining productive, and accepting change if the end product is easy to use.
So what does usability really impact? What’s the ROI (we are looking at the bottom line these days!)?

•Continued productivity in core task activities
•Acceptance of changes
•Increased effectiveness in training
•Increased speed of adoption
At its core?

•Users can complete high-impact, critical must haves
•Users have productivity level understanding of easy to use ECM and collaboration tools
Note: Also, if you’re not doing it before your competition or spending the time and money to innovate you may lose market share and fall behind.

A lot of us who work from both sides of the isle (the company looking for a consulting firm and partner to assist them in integrating such a high profile project \ solution AND the consulting organization who is trying to not only win your business but show why they are different than all the other SharePoint firms and why you should feel safe spending your available budget and signing on for the engagement) understand budget is tight and every last dollar must be squeezed but there can be no cutting corners or taking shortcuts. It’s a hard decision for clients’ \ companies but one that must be decided. When does not spending money and saving budget start to kill innovation?

Usability is not only about the Internet Browser from a laptop or desktop and SharePoint 2010, it’s about mobility and those “edge” devices. Every single item discussed above must also be thought of in a case of a tablet device or a smartphone.

Usability must be managed in your companies MME or Mobility Management Experience. You may refer to it as a different acronym and I believe this thought process will continue to evolve but take into consideration not only company issued devices but the iPad that your CFO is about to get for his\her birthday. How do you manage usability on that device and govern it? Can you even do that and are your companies’ policies and procedures not yet updated to cover a situation like that? You’re not alone and it’s something that must be addressed and soon.

By selecting a platform that is going to give you not only ROI by replacing other expensive systems and allowing everything to be centralized, but to choose a solution that is going to be uttered every few seconds because it’s being used constantly its key to measure its “Usability Value” -

•Measurement and validation of end-user performance
◦Core work tasks
■Critical Must-Haves
■High Impact changes
◦Easy-to-use Information Management and Collaboration tools (Add Social\Professional Networking)
•Measurement of solution’s value to Businesses and End-Users
•Identify performance and feedback-based usability gaps and provide recommendations for solutions to usability gaps
•Advocate on behalf of End-Users and ensure their feedback is heard
•Decrease need for redesign in the future or missing things like mobility -> Evergreen

What true solution “statement” or usability “core values” should be required for success?

•SharePoint 2010 brings significant changes for the end-user
◦New work practices and attitudes around E-mail, messaging, and social (professional) networking
◦New collaboration and document sharing practices
◦New work operating system and digital work environment (Think about going green in the future with OCR \ Scanning solutions that are seamlessly integrated with SharePoint 2010)
•SharePoint 2010 End-Users will have an easier time learning new training, remaining productive, and accepting change if the end product is easy to use.
•Ensuring the usability of SharePoint 2010 will involve a process of examination, testing and refining by applying usability methodology.
◦This must include 508 compliance which has been overlooked for years but is now a core requirement for many organizations (especially government)
This all falls under governance, no surprise, but instead of just throwing around the G word, think true “Operational Governance” and a living breathing Governance strategy that aligns with your organization’s roadmap.

Myself and my team and EPC Group constantly discuss how an enterprise SharePoint project touches just about every area of an organization. Usability \ user experience is one that is not always on the forefront of peoples thoughts but it should be

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Site Implementations in SharePoint 2010 - A Best Practice

Original Article posted on EPC Group's SharePoint Expert Blog Profile which can be seen at the following AIIM.ORG Link: http://www.aiim.org/community/blogs/expert/My-Site-Implementation-in-SharePoint-2010-e28093-A-Best-Practices-Strategy


A SharePoint 2010 Enterprise initiative must be approached in a manner to ensure it is implemented with a “Platform Strategy” and “SharePoint as a Service” in mind. This not only includes the implementation of a Document Management \ Records Management SharePoint 2010 enterprise initiative in mind but all of the other facets that SharePoint 2010 bring to an organization.

I speak with business leaders and CIOs\IT Directors on a regular basis during my day-to-day activities at EPC Group and one question I continue to hear from many organizations is, “what is your opinion on how we could successful roll out SharePoint 2010 My Sites to our organization and how many other similar companies like ours are rolling it out”? The answer is currently about 60\40 in that 60% of organizations are rolling out My Sites and 40% are in a “wait and see” pattern and are struggling with legal & compliance or leadership who have serious concerns about rolling out My Sites.

I always discuss with client, in terms of a record, what is the difference between an email or a post on a My Site? Is there really any difference in the two from a legal perspective and unless the organization regularly monitors a large subset of employees emails, which is rare. My Sites are my more easily monitored and governable. In this, SharePoint 2010 My Site Governance is key and some initial core areas of consideration should be:

•All My Site Public View content must contain only work-related material. This includes work-related documents, discussions, pictures, links, calendar events, and related content.
•No My Site Public View content can contain any confidential or private data. If the organization would not allow all users within the company with a domain login to view this information, consider whether it should be on your My Site Public View.
•Content pertaining to human resources or legal (sensitive in nature) is typically considered confidential and should not be listed on My Site Public View.
•No PII or PHI (personal health information) information should ever be present in My Sites
◦PII: Organization may differ on what PII they may consider PII data. Data about an individual that could potentially identify that person, such as a name, fingerprints or other biometric data, email address, street address, telephone number or social security number. A subset of PII is PIFI (personally identifiable financial information).
◦PHI: under HIPAA includes any individually identifiable health information. Identifiable refers not only to data that is explicitly linked to a particular individual (that's identified information). It also includes health information with data items which reasonably could be expected to allow individual identification.
•Public and already released financial data must be reviewed prior to its posting on My Site Public View. (i.e. Reports, etc.)
•Content on the private site must not contain personal audio files, inappropriate pictures, or other materials not allowed within the organization.
•All discussions or blogging done within a My Site must follow company policies and must not contain sensitivecompany material or defamatory comments about any person within the organization.
I think a key area for organizations to look at is first not thinking of My Sites as the “Facebook” of the enterprise, even thou it was a lot of similar characteristics. Facebook is a poorly governed (by its out-of-the-box configured) nature and the user is responsible to setting proper permissions, showing what posts can be publically viewed, etc.

Its key to think of SharePoint 2010’s My Site as “Professional Networking” and that is the only term they should ever be referred to as that help set a standard and mindset within users. The other key area of concern I see is that organizations fear that existing and approved “policies and procedures” or “standard operating procedures” could be confused by someone’s “best practices” post on their My Site and again this is easily addressed. Having users sign either an online My Site “Professional Networking” user agreement or a paper based user agreement with the governance items and conduct responsibilities clearly spelled out is a great way myself and my professional networking teams at EPC Group have seen completely change the mindset and landscape of fears organizations face.

My Sites are an extremely powerful tool that, in my estimation, 40% of organizations are putting on the back burner or “in a later phase” that is causing them to loose productivity with this amazing tool at their fingertips (and by the way you already purchased\own it). You can institute My Site governance policies as well as actually configure the My Site templates with only the web parts and functionality you would like your user base to access and you do not have to give them all the capabilities right out of the gate.

My advice would be to pilot My Sites within 1 or 2 departments and test these strategies with these users and see how much ROI you really get out of them as I can guarantee you will be amazed at user productivity. One last area of concern I wanted to address is that organizations sometimes see the “My Site” as a replacement to the users existing personal file share. This may or may not be the case but my setting quotas on the My Sites and instituting required Content Type \ Metadata selection when they save documents will make a huge difference in your thinking in this area. These documents will also allow the users to fully search them with SharePoint’s native search and save the user time by searching rather than hunting and pecking around usually very poorly organized file shares.

In the past 4 months, we have completed over 5 extremely large enterprise My Site implementations in both the commercial (2 Fortune 500) and 2 mid-size organizations (1 government) and have not seen issues where they caused any major issues but rather training requirements to help users get used to having this powerful tool at their fingertips.

In summary, pilot My Sites for "Professional Networking" within 1 or 2 departments as you will not regret it.