Developing Goals & Requirements for a Successful Content Cleanup Project

Recently I've noticed many organizations are undertaking major content cleanup efforts, but most don’t know where or how to start. There’s a lot of fear that these large efforts won’t be as successful as promised, or will outright fail. I think this comes from a lack of clearly defined goals and the requirements that must be met to be successful. Too often organizations consider content cleanup as a simple matter of pushing the proverbial “delete” button without understanding the amount of work required to successfully, and compliantly, clean up content across several repositories.

Developing the Appropriate Goals & Requirements is Critical to Content Cleanup Success

You may be wondering why it’s important to clearly define goals and requirements for what should be a simple content cleanup project. Without clear requirements, you can’t achieve your goals. Plus, without goals, you can’t define success. A clear definition of success makes it much easier to avoid failure and maintain the support within the organization. Developing a set of goals and measuring them can be straightforward with the following steps.

4 Steps to Developing Goals and Requirements for Content Cleanup

  1. Choose goals that are strategically important to your organization and that align to its stated goals for the year.
  2. Set minimum, target, and stretch goals, and align specific requirements to each level.
  3. Tie the goals to the assigned resources work plan.
  4. Measure the goals consistently and report strategically.

Step 1: Set goals that are strategically important to your organization and that align to its stated goals for the year.

Start with where you think your content cleanup effort can impact corporate and divisional goals. Be specific and creative about how your content cleanup will help achieve those goals.

Step 2: Set minimum, target, and stretch goals, and align specific requirements to each level.

Develop requirements that include resource needs, technology, and any gaps that exist for each level. By clearly stating your needs, you’ll be able to determine what’s feasible based on the allocation of resources and funding.

Step 3: Tie the goals to the assigned resources workplan.

The content cleanup effort must be tied to workplans of your resources. This ensures you receive commitment and prioritization for the work required.

Step 4: Measure the goals consistently and report strategically.

Tracking the status of the content cleanup effort is key and will help you course correct should any issues arise. Furthermore, plan to strategically report progress on the goals relative to cleanup, divisional goals, and corporate goals. Strategic reports elevate and legitimize the effort, and keep it in the front of management’s minds.

When reporting, make sure to report in a way that is meaningful to the audience and also shows the progress you’re making. For example, if reporting to a CISO, you would discuss how the risk footprint of the organization has been reduced, by how much, and the future expectations. For a report to a CFO, you would discuss the reduction in costs (capital or manpower, for example). If reporting to a broad group of end-users, talk about the reduction of clutter, the amount of time saved, etc. The reporting must be tailored to show the value in the program, but that value will be more obvious by showing folks “what’s in it for them.”

Example Goal & Associated Requirements

Goal Statement: Remediate ROT and orphaned content as defined in policy across 25% of the network drives. (ROT is redundant, obsolete (outside of retention, outside of litigation, no business value), and trivial (junk) content.)

Stretch Goal Statement: Remediate ROT and orphaned content as defined in policy across 75% of the network drives.

Goal Alignment: This goal aligns to Corporate Goal 1: Reduce administrative expense by 25% YOY and Corporate Goal 5: Reduce operational risk to the organization and breach risk to the client/member/customer. We will reduce administrative expense (Corporate Goal 1) by reducing the amount of content maintained on the network, thereby decreasing hardware and storage costs, maintenance costs, and resource overhead. We will reduce operational risk to the organization and breach risk to the client (Goal 5) by reducing the risk surface available to bad actors should a breach event occur.

Goal Resource Requirements: We will require software investment of $100,000 - $250,000 to reach the goal and provide the required audit trail and metrics necessary to report to regulatory and legal oversight bodies. We will require no additional resources, but we will require reallocation of existing resource top priorities in year 2019. We will also require support from other business partners across the organization that can be allocated through approved project hours and assigned through employee Individual Work Plans for 20XX (year).

Conclusion

Setting clear and achievable goals is a foundational component of any content cleanup effort. Without them you may still be successful in cleaning up content, but it will take longer, cost more, and erode the enthusiasm that exists at the outset. On the other hand, with the proper goals and requirements set upfront, you’ll be able to stay on track and report your success consistently to management.

Best Practices for Content Cleanup

Rich Medina
Matt McClelland
I’m a Principal Consultant at Doculabs, with expertise in file analytics, taxonomy, litigation research, and enterprise search.