Let’s face it, users don’t really care much about information management and all the things that are associated with it, such as naming conventions, metadata and taxonomies. No matter how users are communicated with, they generally don’t follow best practice and as soon as we mention the word ‘governance’ they tend to switch off.
So, how do you encourage users at all levels – from apprentices right the way up the ladder to directors – to buy-in to information management?
The need for buy-in may be obvious; however, you have to make it personal, really personal. How can good information management help a user do their job? How can it make their job easier? How can it take them less time?
Sir Francis Bacon said, “Knowledge is power” and thus corporate knowledge held by organisations, governed by knowledge managers, is one of the most significant assets an organisation has.
If you can clearly articulate what information management can do for the organisation, how it can help reach its objectives in the short and long term, then you will engage your users in the benefits of good information management.
The European Union enacted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on 25 May 2018. It was an ‘I told you so’ moment for information management professionals who had tried to enforce best practice with corporate data and failed to secure buy-in. Senior management started to panic about facing large fines for breach of the Regulation. Suddenly, all those conversations about managing content well to save money, protect data, or both, came true. E.On’s ‘error’, for example, revealed 498 customers’ email addresses.
The GDPR also increased use of the term ‘digital transformation’, because digital transformation was what had to take place to ensure good information management.
Finding the cost of poor processes such as onboarding/offboarding, booking holidays etc, may not be easily done, but the cost of the issues resulting in doing these incorrectly is often easily identified.
I have worked to improve business processes with technology; that is my job and is what I studied at Kingston University – Computer Information System Design. Back then, it wasn’t called digital transformation but included the type of skills required to steer an organisation’s information management strategy.
So, aim to encourage your users to adhere to good information management practices.
Make Information Management Transparent
Knowledge workers generally focus on their jobs and information management is something they have to do as part of it. I have worked with an organisation where users were asked to enter metadata. One key problem was that, in some cases, the metadata was not required so the fields were optional. This meant that data was filled out about 0.01% of the time. To overcome this, I proposed a new way of working and now, in that example, data is filled out 100% of the time. How? Using default metadata by automating the process of SharePoint Document Library creation and applying default columns with default values. Automation can happen in many ways, but for most organisations it is vital to increase productivity.
The earlier in a process you can apply automation and information management, the more cost effective it is. Take Optical Character Recognition (OCR) for example. In most organisations, paper is scanned and stored in PDF format. Failure to correctly apply OCR to a file at the point of scanning means it would incur additional costs to do so later. Also, there is no way of knowing if failure to OCR a file has meant that information was not found when required.
There are tools that can help automate the Office 365 Group, SharePoint Site, and Microsoft Teams’ provisioning process, meaning a reduction in errors and helping with information management via such features as Classification and Leases.