So What Should You Do First? Planning Your Information Management Roadmap

Whether your organization is new to information management or a veteran of the discipline, you need a roadmap to organize your initiatives.

This post provides a flexible information management roadmap. It explains how to modify it for your organization, and addresses the most relevant issues today—e.g. how to align your records management and information security programs.

We recommend a roadmap that includes three categories of initiatives:

  • Program initiatives that improve your organizational discipline for managing content and its ability to implement governance over content management
  • Technology initiatives that select and “stand up” the information management technologies that will address your major requirements
  • Business Process initiatives that provide information management to specific areas or applications
“Baseline” Initiatives for Your Roadmap

For most information management initiatives within a successful program, there are an essential set of “baseline” roadmap projects you need to do. These “baseline” initiatives include five Program initiatives and one Technology initiative:

  1. Formalize your team (who does what): Create a formal information management program, with a core team and representation from key functional areas across the organization. Define the scope of the program, the responsibilities of the involved participants, and the program roadmap.

  2. Define “adequate” solution standards (what to use when): Define the usage guidelines you’re your relevant information management systems—typically shared drives, Microsoft SharePoint, other enterprise content management (ECM) systems, and email (e.g. which to use for what purpose, and the retention period for files in each). Communicate the usage guidelines to users and to IT teams that will be involved in tool configurations and enabling capabilities.
  3. Define “adequate” relevant lifecycle guidelines (what happens to your documents during their lifetime): Define standards for document-centric processes; define and document the associated "rules," including the company policies for managing documents, the common procedures to ensure adherence to the policies (and any local variations), and guidelines for using document systems and other applications.

  4. Do “adequate” information architecture (how are you organizing your documents): Define standards and templates for the document types and metadata to be used for indexing and classifying documents in the relevant areas.

  5. Do “adequate” communication and training (get everyone participating well enough): Develop a communication and training plan for educating users about their systems, expectations, processes, responsibilities, usage guidelines, etc. Once defined, begin rolling out communications, education, and training to users, providing periodic reinforcement.

Then, at a minimum, you’ll need a technology initiative, to repurpose existing technology and/or to select new technologies to provide the capabilities necessary to meet the more robust information standards and requirements listed above. Then you will need to select and implement or “stand up” the solution. This can be relatively simple if your organization already has some tools lying around already in use. Or it can be more complex if you’re starting from scratch.

6. Implement the necessary technology: As necessary, evaluate and select the specific products for your information management initiatives. Then implement the foundational capabilities of the selected core solution. This will provide the environment for future on-boarding of various business areas and applications that require information management. At this point, you aren’t configuring the system for any particular applications or adding particular users and business areas. That’s next.

Business Process Initiatives: Where You Get the Benefits

Now you're ready to apply your new information management processes and tools to actual business processes, users, and business areas. For simplicity, you have two general types of business activities: “offensive” and “defensive.” “Offensive” processes may be administrative, focusing on running the business (e.g. Accounts Payable or Receivable in Accounting, and Employee Lifecycle Management in HR). “Offensive” processes may also be line of-business (LOB) processes (e.g. New Account Onboarding, Underwriting, Account Servicing, etc., in financial services and insurance). “Defensive” processes focus on risk management (e.g. Records Management [RM], Compliance, Security/Privacy, Legal Discovery, or Audit).

Here are the best candidates for initial information management Business Process Initiatives. I break them into Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced categories. You probably know which bucket you belong in.

“Offensive” Initiatives:

  • Beginner: Administrative process, such as Accounts Payable
  • Intermediate: LOB process, such as mortgage application
  • Advanced: Enterprise operations, such as enterprise ingestion

“Defensive” Initiatives:

  • Beginner: Align RM, Information Security, and Discovery
  • Intermediate: Analyze and clean up redundant, outdated, trivial (ROT) files
  • Advanced: Migrate content to appropriately secure systems

In future posts, I’ll dig deeper into the “baseline” roadmap initiatives and particularly the various kinds of business process initiatives. So stay tuned! But in the meantime, check out Doculabs' consulting services in the development of roadmaps for information management. And be sure to contact us here if you'd like more information.

Rich Medina
Rich Medina
I’m a Principal Consultant and co-founder of Doculabs, and the resident expert in using ECM for information lifecycle management.