Saturday, December 29, 2012

10 Signs Your Search Engine is Stalling

An integral part of your content management strategy is enterprise search. Your users need to be able to find information and documents they are looking for. However, enterprise search does not always work properly. Users have to get more creative to compensate for the lack of good search but is this what you really want?

Creative ways which users use to find information is a sign that your search engine is stalling. If you recognize any of these symptoms below in your content management system, take it as a call to action: your search engine needs a tune-up!

1. Querying With Magic Cookies: If your users are memorizing document IDs or using some other "magic" unrelated to natural search queries to find content, your search has a problem.

2. Off-Roading to Google: If your users are proudly (or surreptitiously) resorting to Google to get answers, take a hard look at your search tools. Google is good. But if your search engine can't outperform a generic Web search engine, given it has a much tighter domain of content and context and can be tuned to your goals -you can do better.

3. Gaming Learning: Today's search engines are "smart". No doubt-click-stream feedback is a powerful tool for improving search relevance. But, if users are expending time repeatedly running the same search and clicking on the "right" document to force it to the top of the results list, your search engine isn't learning, it has a learning disability. Search engines should not have to be gamed.

4. Using Cliff Notes: If users use everything from note cards to the back of their hands to scribble titles and key phrases for frequently utilized content, if your users have taken to cliff-noting content to prime their searches, the search engine is not working.

5. Paper Chasing: Are your users printing out content, littering their cubes with hard copies? That is just another form of cliff-noting. Using functioning search is easier than a paper chase, not to mention more reliable.

6. Doing the Link Tango: Badly tuned search engines tend to "fixate" on certain content, especially content with lots of links to other content. Smart users often take advantage of this tendency to click through on anchor articles and then ricochet through the link structure to find the actual content they need. If your users are doing the "link tango" for information, you know that your users are great, but your search does not work.

7. Lots of "Game Over" Search Sessions: When search strings bring back large amount of content that is not earning click-through (document views), your users are having the "game over" experience. Unable to identify what is relevant in this sea of material, they are forced to cheat to stay in the game. Smart search engines provide navigation, faceted guidance or clarifying questions to prevent "game over" interactions.

8. Dumbing it Down: Your users are verbally adept, and they would love to ask questions "naturally". If your analytics are telling you that most users' searches have disintegrated into 1-2 word queries, take it as a direct reflection of your search engine's lack of intelligence. A search engine competent in natural language typically receives 20% of queries in seven words or more and about half in three, with fewer than 20% as 1-2 word queries.

9. Easter Eggs: If your users tell you they often find interesting new content by stumbling upon it, your search engine is delivering "Easter Eggs." Finding good content by accident, especially good content, signals a poorly tuned search engine. New content is usually highly relevant content and ought to be preferred by smart retrieval algorithms.

10. Taxi Driver Syndrome: Taxi drivers will tell you that they don't want a map, that they don't need a map because they memorized the map. Unlike a city topography, a knowledge base changes frequently. So, if your users are saying they don't want or need search, it's not because they have memorized all your content. What they are realy saying is: we don't need search that doesn't work.

If your users have to get more and more creative to get the job done, thank them. And then reward them and your business by tuning or upgrading your search engine. It will pay off in efficiency, customer satisfaction, and employees and customers retention.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Website Usability

Web usability is an approach to make a web site easy to use for a user, without the requirement that any specialized training is undertaken or any special manual is read. Users should be able to intuitively determine the actions they need or can perform on the web page s, e.g., press a button to perform some action.

Some broad goals of usability could be: present the information to the user in a clear and concise way, give the correct choices to the users in an obvious way, remove any ambiguity regarding the consequences of an action (e.g. clicking on delete/remove/purchase), place important items in an appropriate area on a web page or a web application.

When you designed your web site, you want to promote it everywhere with big bold letters saying, "Hello everybody! Come and look at my web site! It is just great!" When you submit your web site to forums for web site reviews, you may write, "What do you think of my web site?"

This is the big mistake to ask someone to look at your web site. There is never a single answer. To understand if your web site meets its usability requirements, ask people to try it out. They should be able to answer the following questions: what is the purpose of this web site? what can I do here? what needs does it fulfill?

The 5 seconds test tool is one way to explore immediate impressions of the web site users. You can experiment by asking them what the site is about, to see if the site’s purpose is communicated clearly.

The biggest mistake is to believe that web site appearance matters the most. How it looks is only one part of the process. How it performs is another. What it can give back to site visitors and how effectively it conveys that information will matter even more.

Writing content for web users is an important task. The main goal of this task is the ease with which the web site content is read and understood by your users. When your content is highly readable, your audience is able to quickly digest the information you share with them.

Keep the web site content as concise as possible. Users have very short attention spans and they are not going to read articles thoroughly and in their entirety. So, get to the point as quickly as possible. Place your most important content high on the page. Think of a newspaper: the top story is always prominently displayed above the fold. Use headings to break up long text. Use bulleted lists where possible.

Format the text in such a way that it is easy to read it and just to scan a web page.Keep colors and typefaces consistent. Visitors should never click on an internal link in your site and wonder if they've left your web site. Choose your colors and fonts carefully and use them consistently throughout the site.

Keep page layout consistent. Use a Web site template to enforce a uniform page structure. Visitors should be able to predict the location of important page elements after visiting just one page in your site.

Design a clear and simple navigation system. a good navigation system should answer three questions: Where am I? Where have I been? Where can I go?

The navigation system should be in the same place on every page and have the same format. Visitors will get confused and frustrated if links appear and disappear unpredictably. Don't make your visitors guess where a link is going to take them. Visitors should be able to anticipate a link's destination by reading the text in the link or on the navigation button. Users don't have time or patience to guess.

Large or complex sites should always have a text-based site map in addition to text links. Every page should contain a text link to the site map. Lost visitors will use it to find their way, while search engines spiders will have reliable access to all your pages.

Include a home page link inside your main navigation system. Visitors may enter your site via an internal page, but hopefully they will want to head for the home page. Link the site logo to the home page. Most sites include their logo somewhere at the top of every page - generally in the top, left-hand corner. Visitors expect this logo to be a link to your site's home page. They'll often go there before looking for the home link in the navigation system.

Include a site search box. A robust site search feature helps visitors quickly locate the information they want. Make the search box prominent and be sure that it searches all of your site, and only your site.

Check your page display at in a number of different screen resolutions to make sure that your most important content is visible when the page loads.

Include a form for users' feedback on your site.

A good brand creates or reinforces a user's impression of the site. When your site is strongly branded, that means that visitors will think of you first when they go shopping for your product or service.

Conduct usability testing. Usability testing helps you to replicate the experience of the average web site user and correct problems before real users find them.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Content Management Systems Review - Confluence

Confluence means "a coming together" and has been helping workers do just that since 2004. Starting out as an enterprise wiki, it has evolved through the years into an all-round collaboration tool. Confluence is available as a SaaS or hosted product, powered by Java. It is the Atlassian product and it is designed to work with other Atlassian products.

Confluence has the widest spread application of Atlassian's products, it could be applied in almost any environment. It is free to open source institutions and non-profits. Pricing starts at just a charity donation of US$ 10 for hosted smaller installations for less than 10 users.

Price breaks go neatly up through the ranks until you are only paying US$ 1 per user, if you have 2,000 of them for the Hosted version.


Confluence offers the ability to create one or many sites, for the whole company, different teams, groups or classes of worker. Managing them is done through an elegant set of administration tools and dashboards.

Setting permissions is very easy.

Sites can be styled and formatted as needed. With styles for the most typical areas such as human resources, design projects, along with templates for common tasks like meetings, project plans, intranet or team project page can be created very quickly.

Communities are presented through bios, pictures, home pages. Users can find each other by holding the cursor over someone's name. To see a brief bio, they need to click on that name and they visit the main page.

Users can chart work progress through blogs, their status updates can be seen by other users in the group and home pages. There are also YouTube videos and Twitter-style updates.

Users will also get notifications (or can create an RSS feed) when someone edits an entry or changes a file.

All documents can be kept in one place accessible to all relevant users.

When combined with Atlassian's JIRA, users can create step-by-step workflows that will see tasks completed in a by-the-numbers fashion and everyone's contributions and input can be tracked.

The site has search function. Searches, updates and other entries can also be filtered to limit the search. There is autocomplete feature for the search.

Confluence has the ability to connect to applications like SharePoint. Confluence has a SharePoint connector. It also has full MS Office compatibility and smartphone access.

Confluence has Sandbox where you can try its features.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Content Management Systems Reviews - Open Text - ECM Suite - Auto Classification

For records managers and others responsible for building and enforcing classification policies, retention schedules, and other aspects of records management plan, the problem with traditional, manual classification methods can be overwhelming.

Content needs to be classified or understood in order to determine why it must be retained, how long it must be retained, and when it can be dispositioned. Managing the retention and disposition of information reduces litigation risk, reduces discovery and storage costs, and ensures that organizations maintain regulatory compliance.

Classification is the last thing end-users want (or are able) to do. Users see the process of sorting records from transient content as intrusive, complex, and counterproductive. On top of this, the popularity of mobile devices and social media applications has effectively fragmented the content authoring market and has eliminated any chance of building consistent classification tools into end-user applications.

However, if classification is not being carried out there are serious implications when asked by regulators or auditors to provide reports to defend the organization’s records and retention management program.

User concerns aside, records managers also struggle with enforcing policies that rely on manual, human-based approaches. Accuracy and consistency in applying classification is often inadequate when left up to users, the costs in terms of productivity loss are high, and these issues, in turn, result in increased business and legal risk as well as the potential for the entire records management program to quickly become unsustainable in terms of its ability to scale.

So what is the answer? How can organizations overcome the challenges posed by classification?

The answer is a solution that provides automatic identification, classification, retrieval, archival, and disposal capabilities for electronic records as required by the records management policy.

OpenText Auto-Classification is the solution that combines records management with cutting edge semantic capabilities for classification of content. It eliminates the need for users to manually identify records and apply requisite classification. By taking the burden of classification off users, records managers can improve consistency of classification and better enforce rules and policies.

OpenText Auto-Classification makes it possible for records managers to easily demonstrate a defensible approach to classification based on statistically relevant sampling and quality control. Consequently, this minimizes the risk of regulatory fines and eDiscovery sanctions.

It provides a solution that eliminates the need for users to sort and classify a growing volume of content while offering records managers and the organization as a whole the ability to establish completely transparent records management program as part of their broader information governance strategy.

Auto-Classification uses OpenText analytics engine to go through documents and codifies language-specific nuances identified by linguistic experts.


Automated Classification: Automate the classification of content in OpenText Content Server inline with existing records management classifications.

Advanced Techniques: Classification process based on a hybrid approach that combines machine learning, rules, and content analytics.

Flexible Classification: Ability to define classification rules using keywords or metadata.

Policy-Driven Configuration: Ability to configure and optimize the classification process with an easy step-by-step tuning guide.

Advanced Optimization Tools: Reports make it easy to examine classification results, identify potential accuracy issues, and then fix those issues by leveraging the provided optimization hints.

Sophisticated Relevancy and Accuracy Assurance: Automatic sampling and benchmarking with a complete set of metrics to assess the quality of the classification process.

Quality Assurance Workbench: Advanced reports on a statistically relevant sample to review and code documents that have been automatically classified to manually assess the quality of the classification results when desired.

Auto-Classification works with OpenText Records Management so existing classifications and documents can be used during the tuning process.

OpenText Auto-Classification was developed in close partnership with customers using the OpenText ECM Suite, and works in conjunction with OpenText Records Management so that existing classifications and classified documents can be used in the tuning process.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Viewing Documents in the Cloud Repository

More and more organizations are moving to solutions where documents are stored in cloud-based systems. Implementing a solution in which documents are stored in a cloud-based system, such as a content management system, engineering drawing repository or a technical publication library, can present some challenges. You need to consider these challenges carefully so that you could provide the optimal experience for your users.

These are most important challenges to consider when implementing a cloud-based documents repository: working with multiple file formats; variations in document size; browser-compatibility with HTML5; and viewing documents on mobile devices.

Multiple File Formats

The documents that you might like to upload into your cloud content management system may be in many different formats. They may be PDF, TIFF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, CAD or many others. The device that is being used to display the content often may not have the correct software needed to display the document or image.

This issue is further complicated by the varying number of devices that the content will be viewed on. A common solution is to convert the files on the server to a generic format that can be viewed by many devices. For example, most browsers and devices today can display JPEG or PNG formats for images, Microsoft Office or PDF format for documents, CAD for drawings, etc.

Document Size

It is very important to consider the size of the document, either the number of pages or the physical size of the file. Downloading the entire document can take a long time depending on available bandwidth. This is especially an issue on mobile devices with slow or crowded data connections.

A system that provides a preview of the document can help the user to determine if they want to download the document. The system can also provide quick initial view of the first few pages of the document allows a user to begin reading content while the rest of the document downloads. This increases worker productivity and can even reduce traffic if the user quickly determines that they do not wish to continue reading the document.

Browser compatibility

Another challenge is that there are various browsers that are used to access the Internet and not all of them work the same way. The four major browsers are Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. Each browser has differences in how they operate and how the code works under the covers.

Document viewing technology is dependent on some level of support within the browser. For example some browsers support Flash and some do not. HTML5 is only supported on recently updated versions of some browsers, so older browsers can create problems. Even where HTML5 is supported, different browsers have different levels of support. Sometimes the differences are subtle and only cosmetic, while others, like complex formatting, can cause significant display issues.

Mobile viewing

With today’s on-demand business world, it is imperative to be able to support viewing documents on mobile devices. But not all the devices behave the same way, and different operating systems are used on the various devices. Without a consistent mobile viewing platform, separate viewing applications may need to be installed on each device and results will vary. Using a single technology that supports many document types is very important in a mobile environment.

Is HTML5 the Answer?

HTML5-based viewers can help resolve some of the challenges associated with browsers and mobile devices. However, there is a misconception that the adoption of HTML5 is the answer to all problems. It is not. The four major browsers have been implementing HTML5 over time and how much of the standard that is supported varies greatly with the version of the browser. Older versions of the browsers that are used in many government, education and businesses do not support HTML5.

Understanding that these common challenges are a possibility and preparing for them before you encounter them is important. Providing a single platform with multiple viewing technologies, including HTML5, Flash and image-based presentation, can help to ensure that all users can view documents, regardless of their specific device, browser or operating system. With that knowledge you can successfully promote a good experience for your users and overcome the major pitfalls faced by so many organizations today.

Monday, October 29, 2012

SharePoint 2013 - Adopt it or Not?

You may have just finished with upgrading your SharePoint to 2010 version and now we are hearing about SharePoint 2013. What is this all about? And are you going to adopt it or not?

Microsoft releases a major version of SharePoint every three years. SharePoint 2013 is a significant release with many new great features. However, you may find it hard to justify moving on to 2013 release in the near future, unless you can find a business justification for spending the time and money it will take to make the transition.

I am going to highlight new features of SharePoint 2013 to help you with this decision.

Reuse Content Across Multiple Sites

One of the pain points experienced in previous versions of SharePoint was around the fact that content that was created within one site collection could not easily be reused in a separate site collection. Since many organizations required multiple site collections, this limitation created a few cases where duplicate content was required.

With 2013, the concept of Cross-Site publishing has been introduced. When using this feature you can store and manage content in one location and then display the content in other site collections. Using this approach you can display the data in as many places that are needed, while still only managing and maintaining one single point of truth.

Navigation and User Friendly Links

There are new navigation features and the ability to base a navigation structure of an existing term set. This allows organizations to centrally manage their content and to provide meaningful navigation structures within the multiple site collections. You can also create friendlier names when linking to pages and content within SharePoint.

In previous versions of SharePoint you were required to have longer URLs that contained references to the specific location you were trying to access. Within SharePoint 2013 you can now configure the URL so that it can be more easily referenced.

An example of this would be the following two URLs:

Previous SharePoint Versions:

SharePoint 2013 Friendly URL:

You can see that by removing the required URL parameters for ID and Source you are able to create friendly, memorable URLs for your sites and pages.

Changing Web Parts

There is a need to be able to "gather" and "present" data to users. In previous versions of SharePoint this was done through either the Content Query Web Part or a custom Roll Up solution.

Because of limitations in performance, the Content Query Web Part was restricted in how it could be utilized across organizations. If you had many users who needed to roll up a large amount of content it is likely that you could experience performance issues in using the web part.

SharePoint 2013 adds a new web part that will allow you to provide the same functionality as the Content Query Web Part, but is instead based on the search functionality available within SharePoint. Because this web part is based on search, many of the existing limitations have been reduced.

Design Changes

In SharePoint 2013 there are many new techniques that can be used to aide in the branding and customization of your sites. One of the biggest impacts is the ability to create a SharePoint custom design in any design tool of choice. This means your designers are not limited to only working within SharePoint Designer to build their custom design.

Social Features

The list of new features in Social Enterprise include: micro blogs, activity feeds, community sites, Following, Likes and Reputations.

Community templates have been designed in a way that allows anyone within the organization to join a community and to begin discussions on things relevant to the community. These communities are a great way to share information in a collaborative way, at the same time making intellectual property with the organization available to a larger audience.

In addition to making it easier for people to come together, SharePoint community templates also provide some features that allow for them to be easily managed, including built-in moderation features. This means that you can still maintain a level of control within the discussions that are had over certain sensitive topics.

With the newest microblogging features, users will be able to start threads that include tags of other people and links to relevant content.

Following adds the ability to "follow" people, sites, documents and topics, with subsequent actions of the followed entity appearing in the user's activity stream. By following other users within the organization users will be able to see items within their feeds and follow things that are relevant to them.

My Site

In SharePoint 2013 saving documents into My Sites is going to get a lot easier. There is a single document library, not two as in SharePoint 2010, and the permissions have been simplified, making it easier to share documents with colleagues. My Site document library can be synced with a local drive to enable offline access so you can access your documents even when the server is unavailable.


It is easier to access SharePoint content from a mobile device in the 2013 version. Adding to the existing classic view, SharePoint 2013 offers two new views for mobile devices, including a contemporary view for optimized mobile browser experience and a full-screen view which enables the user to have a full desktop view of a SharePoint site on a smartphone device.

Site Permissions

SharePoint 2013 includes new, simplified sharing based model for site permissions management.


SharePoint 2013 will bring richer themes and even the ability to add a background image to the page.


Microsoft is using the new term "Metro" to describe its new, radical UI design of SharePoint. It is supposed to be easier to use. Microsoft is planning to use Metro as the default UI for SharePoint as well as user tools like Office, Windows, Xbox and mobile devices.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Using SharePoint to Create a Blog

A blog is a Web site that enables you or your organization to quickly share ideas and information. Blogs contain posts that are dated and listed in reverse chronological order. People can comment on your posts, as well as provide links to interesting sites, photos, and related blogs.

Blogs posts can be created quickly, and they often have an informal tone or provide a unique perspective. Although blogs are frequently used for commentary on the Internet, they can be used in several ways in a corporate environment. For example, one of my clients used SharePoint blog for facility maintenance notes.

SharePoint Services provides a blog template that makes creating a blog easy. A blog is a site that contains lists and libraries, such as a list of blog posts, a list of other blogs, and a library for photos. Once you create a blog, you can set up categories, and then customize the blog settings.

When you create a blog, you need to decide whether you want the blog to inherit permissions from the parent site or set up unique permissions manually. In most cases, you should set up unique permissions for the blog to ensure that you can manage its site settings, lists, and libraries independently of its parent site. For example, you might want to grant less restrictive permissions on your blog than on the parent site, such as enabling all authenticated users on your intranet to read and comment on the blog.

Before you start adding content to your blog, you will want to make sure that your site, lists, and libraries are set up the way that you want. For example, you may want to edit the description of a list to help your readers understand its purpose, change permissions for the blog or the Other Blogs list, or track versions of your blog posts so that you can restore a previous version of a post if necessary.

Once you've customized the settings for your blog, then you can set up categories to help you organize your posts. Categories are especially helpful if you create blog posts about different subjects or for different purposes, such as current events, brainstorming for a special project, or a technology or hobby. When posts are organized by categories, people can more easily find the posts that fit their interests by clicking the appropriate category in the Categories list.

To create a blog, you must have permission to create sites. Click "View All Site Content", and then click "Create" on the "All Site Content" page. You can use the "Site Actions" menu to complete this step.

Next set up categories. You can add more categories or edit the category names later. If you don't want to use categories, you can choose "None" for the category when you create a post.

Under "Admin Links", click "All content". Under "Lists", click "Categories". The Categories list appears. If you have not set up categories on the blog before, the list contains category placeholders, such as Category 1 and Category 2. In the "Categories" list, click the "Edit" button to the right of the category placeholder that you want to change. Select the placeholder text, type the new text that you want, and then click OK. Repeat steps 3 through 5 to replace the existing placeholder categories with your own categories. To add additional categories, click "New on the list toolbar, and then type a name for the category in the "Title" box. To delete a category, point to its name, click the arrow that appears, and then click "Delete Item".

Once created, you may want to customize settings for your blog, or for its lists and libraries. In your blog, under "Admin Links", do one of the following:
  • to customize the Posts list, click Manage posts;
  • to customize the Comments list, click Manage comments;
  • to customize the Other Blogs list, click All content. Under Lists, click Other Blogs;
  • to customize any other lists or libraries in the blog — such as the Links list or Photos picture library — click All content, and then click the list that you want to change.
On the Settings menu, click "List Settings" or click the settings for the type of library that you are opening, such as "Picture Library Settings". Click the type of setting that you want to change, such as "Versioning" settings or "Permissions" for this list, and then make the appropriate changes. Repeat this procedure for any other settings, lists, or libraries that you want to change.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Content Management Systems Reviews - Documentum - Compliance Manager

Controlled content often exists as combination of paper documents, collected in binders and distributed manually and electronic files routed for editing and approval using email. Paper documents are a burden to store, even more difficult to share widely, and they can quickly can become obsolete. Electronic content reduces the storage and distribution problem but as emails circulate their attachments may be revised resulting in different versions in use across an organization.

EMC Documentum Compliance Manager offers an automated, integrated online environment for creating, reviewing, revising, approving, distributing, and auditing controlled content.

Compliance Manager helps companies to achieve compliance with external regulations such as FDA 21 CFR Part 11 and internal policies while maintaining high product and service quality standards. It replaces unreliable and inefficient processes with streamlined processes for review, approval, and distribution, and thus reducing the time and effort employees managing controlled content.

By helping organizations meet quality objectives and comply with internal and external regulations and standards, Compliance Manager can help you to reduce operating costs, minimize waste, errors, and production delays and deliver products to market faster with greater confidence.

Compliance Manager can audit all controlled content activities enabling users, managers, and external agencies to know when and why changes were made to content. You can quickly determine who has interacted with content, as well as when and why, and detect attempts to alter or remove documents.

You also can enforce signatures and proper approvals, ensure content authenticity and immutability, and ensure documents retention for required periods.

Compliance Manager is built on the EMC Documentum platform and content repository which includes Documentum-based lifecycles and workflows, EMC Documentum Trusted Content Services for audit trails and digital signatures, and the Documentum client development environment (Web Development Kit).

As an extension of Documentum Webtop, Compliance Manager takes advantage of advanced user interface and platform services such as model dialogues to navigation, extended search capabilities, and configurable pre-sets for convenient user interface configuration.

Compliance Manager is also integrated with EMC Documentum Collaborative Services, Retention Policy Services, Branch Office Caching Services. So, users can collaborate while authoring content, manage review and approval cycles, and control retention and disposition. Once a document is approved, it can be distributed to remove sites for high-performance access.

Compliance Manager is highly configurable minimizing the need for customization. It is easy to upgrade, implement, and validate. It is designed to integrate with any J2EE-based web development and deployment strategy.

The business rules that enforce compliance are exposed as a set of services and components through the EMC Documentum Business Objects Framework. This makes it easy to create applications that work with the Compliance Manager by simply implementing and validating user interface controls. No changes to underlying business logic are required. And because there already exists a large network of experienced service providers for Compliance Manager, you can quickly find the right implementation partner.

Key Features

Secure, globally accessible repository - manage documents from one secure location for review, approval, and reuse.

Intuitive web interface - content is easily accessible.

Automated change management - ensure access to approved versions.

Document signoff with enforced justifications - electronic signature for approved versions.

Proactive notification and tracking - satisfy user acknowledgement requirements of auditors and regulations and ensure approved content is in use.

Full document and user audit trail - store signoffs in the audit trail to ensure validity and prove to regulators or auditors who has seen and approved a document.

Print control with banner and watermark - audit printing, restrict printing to authorized users, and manage hard copy distribution.

Configurable document lifecycle - for review, approval, and distribution.

Rapid search capability - quickly locate the most current content relevant to a given subject.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Knowledge Management - Knowledge Driven Customer Relationships

Knowledge is power but only when it is deeply integrated into the customer experience, the agent experience, and the enabling technology. Service and support organizations can benefit tremendously from knowledge. When implemented effectively, knowledge management processes and technology can deliver significant benefits:

Support operations are more efficient. Rather than handling customer requests based only on their own experience, all customer-facing staff have access to the collective experience of the whole team. Problems are solved once; agents don’t repeat work that others have done, or bother escalation teams with already known issues.

Customers help themselves. A shared knowledgebase enables call deflection. Effective self-service will remove case load that is low value to the enterprise or an irritant to the customer. This saves money and makes customers happier.

Also, customers can use self-service to receive help on topics about which they might never have called an agent. That is, self-service that is powered by a strong knowledge management initiative will satisfy customer demand for service and support that would otherwise go unmet. This is a very cost-effective way to create value for customers and nurture customer loyalty.

The organization continually learns from its customers. Tracking the ways customers and agents use knowledge provides an ongoing, measurable listening post for the Voice of the Customer. With this information, products can be improved, the customer experience can be enhanced, and service and support can be made more effective.

Every customer interaction is an opportunity to capture, improve, or reuse knowledge. With knowledge at the center of the CRM implementation, every time a support staffer helps a customer, the knowledgebase and the organization as a whole becomes that much smarter. If knowledge exists in the knowledgebase, its use is tracked to drive product improvements and customer outreach programs. If the knowledge is not completely current, certified staff can update it on the fly. If the knowledge does not exist, it can be captured in a simple, structured, reusable form.

Knowledge management deeply embedded inside the case management process helps staff continually create, reuse, and validate their knowledge. With continued improvement, the knowledgebase becomes even more valuable.

Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to receive these benefits unless knowledge is at the very heart of everything the organization does, starting with CRM.

Knowledge management must be the core of any successful CRM deployment, not an add-on module. When knowledge is deeply integrated with CRM, not tacked on as a side dish or an add-on module, enterprises can truly begin to nurture loyal customer relationships.

Everything customers say and do can improve their self-service experience. CRM systems typically advertise themselves as the "customer information repository of record", But customer information sitting passively in a repository serves no purpose. Self-service that is fully integrated with case tracking takes advantage of everything customers have shared to personalize the interaction and efficiently deliver what they need. Self-service can even use configuration and diagnostic information from the customer’s system to deliver precision-targeted information.

Streamlining the agent experience means providing an integrated resolution workbench with a single screen for any tools the user needs. In knowledge driven CRM, both case management and incident management are all part of a single process.

The resolution workbench should proactively deliver knowledge to agents or analysts based on information they have received from the customer to date. Of course, this is just a starting point. Agents must be able to drill in and refine searches on an ongoing basis.

Some of the information that agents, analysts, or engineers want to record is specific to that customer and case, for example, "the customer promised to send me a log file after the next error message appears". But some information, such as symptoms, the root cause, or a problem resolution, is relevant to anyone working on the same customer issue. The support staffer must be able to seamlessly capture both kinds of information on the fly, without retyping, copying, or pasting. As one team member learns something new, all can immediately share in the benefits.

Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS) is the industry standard set of best practices developed by the members of the Consortium for Service Innovation. Its central tenet is that "knowledge is not something we do in addition to solving problems. Knowledge becomes the way we solve problems". In addition to all its other benefits, an integrated resolution workbench is a tremendous accelerator for adopting KCS.

If self-service ends up not solving one particular issue, customers should have an absolutely seamless experience where the agent (via chat, phone, or any channel) can pick up right where self-service left off.

It is hard to read too much into the raw knowledge statistics: just because a knowledgebase article was viewed frequently in self-service, we can’t be sure that it resolved the customer’s real issues. Reporting by resolution categories in CRM rarely gives product developers sufficiently detailed information to take action. But combined knowledge and case reporting, for example, which knowledgebase articles closed the most cases, can provide precision guidance into the root causes of customer frustration.

Also, combined analytics enable specialized dashboards that help managers and executives assess individual and team performance. In a knowledge-creating company, it’s not enough to just measure how many cases were closed or how many articles were written; performance assessment requires a broad view of what individuals and teams are doing, including how their knowledge work improves their case work.

Finally, organizations must quantify and continually increase the business value being generated by the service and support organization. For example, how much demand for support is being satisfied automatically through the website, and how much must still be addressed by agents? These questions lie at the intersection of knowledge and case management. True knowledge-driven CRM can provide clear answers.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Faceted Search

Faceted search, also called faceted navigation or faceted browsing, is a technique for accessing information organized according to a faceted classification system, allowing users to explore a collection of information by applying multiple filters. A faceted classification system classifies each information element along multiple explicit dimensions, enabling the classifications to be accessed and ordered in multiple ways rather than in a single, pre-determined, taxonomic order.

Facets correspond to properties of the information elements. They are often derived by analysis of the text of an item using entity extraction techniques or from pre-existing fields in a database such as author, descriptor, language, and format. Thus, existing web-pages, product descriptions or online collections of articles can be augmented with navigational facets.

Faceted search has become the de facto standard for e-commerce and product-related web sites. Other content-heavy sites also use faceted search. It has become very popular and users are getting used to it and even expect it.

Faceted search lets users refine or navigate a collection of information by using a number of discrete attributes – the so-called facets. A facet represents a specific perspective on content that is typically clearly bounded and mutually exclusive. The values within a facet can be a flat list that allows only one choice (e.g. a list of possible shoe sizes) or a hierarchical list that allow you to drill-down through multiple levels (e.g. product types, Computers > Laptops). The combination of all facets and values are often called a faceted taxonomy. These faceted values can be added directly to content as metadata or extracted automatically using text mining software.

For example, a recipe site using faceted search can allow users to decide how they’d like to navigate to a specific recipe, offering multiple entry points and successive refinements.

As users combine facet values, the search engine is really launching a new search based on the selected values, which allows the users to see how many documents are left in the set corresponding to each remaining facet choice. So while users think they are navigating a site, they are really doing the dreaded advanced search.

There are best practices in establishing facets. They are:

do not create too many facets - presenting users with 20 different facets will overwhelm them; users will generally not scroll too far down beyond the initial screen to locate your more obscure facets;

base facets on key use cases and known user access patterns - idenfity key ways users search and navigate your site. Analysing search logs, evaluating competitor sites, and user research and testing are great ways to figure out what key access points users are looking for. Interviewing as few as 10 users will often give you great insight into what the facet structure should be;

order facets and values based on importance - not all facets are equally important. Some access points are more important than others depending on what users are doing and where they are in the site. Present most popular facets on the top. When determining order for navigation, again think about your users and why they are coming to your site.

leverage the tool to show and hide facets and values - while the free or low-cost faceted search tools don’t all offer these configuration options, more sophisticated faceted search solutions allow you to create rules to progressively disclose facets.

Think of a site offering online greeting cards. While the visual theme of the card – teddy bears, a sunset, golf – might eventually be important to a user, it probably isn’t the first place they will start their search. They will likely start with occasion (birthday, Christmas), or recipient (father, friend), and then become interested in themes further down the line. Accordingly, we might hide the “themes” facet until a user has selected an occasion or recipient. You can selectively present facets based on your understanding of your users and their typical search patterns (as mentioned in the previous “do”).

Also take advantage of the search engine’s clutter-reducing features, such as the “more...” link. This allows you to present only the most popular items and hide the rest until the user specifically requests to see them. You can also do this at the facet level, collapsing lesser-used facets to present just the category name and let users who are interested expand that facet.

facet display should be dependent on the area of the site. If you are in the first few layers of your site, you should show fewer facets with more values exposed, whereas if you are deeper into product information you should show more facets, some with values exposed and others hidden.

create your taxonomy with faceted search in mind - a good taxonomy goes a long way in making a successful faceted search interface.

There are some important guidelines to follow in taxonomy design. Facets need to be well defined, mutually exclusive and have clear labels. For example, having one facet called “Training” and another “Events” is confusing: where do you put a seminar? Is it training or an event? If you have to wonder, your users will too. The taxonomy depth (how many levels deep does it go) and breadth (how many facets wide is it) are other important considerations. Faceted search works better with a broad taxonomy that is relatively shallow, as this lets users combine more perspectives rather than get stuck in an eternal drill down, which causes fatigue. The facet configuration and display rules will help you create the optimal progressive presentation of these facets so as to not overwhelm users with the breadth.

If you are torn between two places in the taxonomy for a term, consider putting it in both places. This is called polyhierarchy, and it is a good way to ensure findability from multiple perspectives. Polyhierarchy is best served within a facet rather than across multiple facets. Since facets should be mutually exclusive, you shouldn’t have much need to repeat terms across facets, which can be more confusing than helpful.

The most important thing however, is to be prepared to break any of these rules in the name of usability. Building a faceted taxonomy involves understanding your users’ search behavior.

As the trend towards increased social computing continues, Web 2.0 concepts are entering the realm of faceted search. We are starting to see social tags being used in faceted search and browse interfaces., a product-review site, is using social tag-based facets in its navigation, allowing users to refine results based on tags grouped as "Pros" or "Cons". This site uses a nice blend of free social tagging and control to ensure good user experience; when you type in a tag to add to a product review, type-ahead verifies existing tags and prompts you to select one from the existing list of matches to maximize consistency.

Ultimately, navigation and search is one of the main interactions users have with your site, so getting it right is not just a matter of good design, it impacts the bottom line. Faceted search is a very popular and powerful solution when done well; it allows users to deconstruct a large set of results into bite-size pieces and navigate based on what’s important to them. But faceted search by itself is not necessarily going to make your users lives easier. You need to understand your users’ mental models (how they seek information), test your assumptions about how they will interpret your terms and categories and spend time refining your approach.

Faceted search can just add more complexity and frustrate your users if not considered from the user perspective and carefully thought through with sound usability principles in mind. Faceted search is raising the bar in terms of findability and how well you execute will determine whether your site meets the new standard.

Monday, August 27, 2012

SharePoint - Project Management Features

SharePoint has project management features to manage projects and keep track of project information on a site. You can track team events with a calendar, manage a list of tasks, and log and respond to issues.

A team can use a calendar to track team events, vacations, and conferences, and other events. Team members can connect this calendar to Microsoft Office Outlook 2007, where they can overlay it with their personal calendars to avoid scheduling conflicts. They can copy events back and forth between the calendars.

The team can use tasks lists to manage the work for large projects, such as planning a convention and managing a marketing campaign. Tasks can be set up with a standard list view or as a project tasks list. A project tasks list provides a visual overview, known as a Gantt view, of the tasks and their progress. Templates are available for creating lists in either format — a standard list view or a project tasks list.

The team can use an issue tracking list to track logistical problems that are related to the conference planning, such as registration database issues. A team member logs the issue, and then people record any updates and fixes until the issue is resolved.

Working with lists

When you create a team site, several lists are created for you. These default lists range from a discussion board to a calendar list. You can customize and add items to these lists, create additional lists from templates, and create custom lists with just the settings and columns that you choose.

Lists can include many types of information, ranging from text to dates to pictures. Lists can also include calculations, such as totals or a calculated date, such as a week from today's date.

By using lists, you can do the following:

Track versions - You can track versions of list items, so that you can see which list items have changed, as well as who changed them. If mistakes are made in a newer version, you can restore a previous version of an item.

Require approval - Your organization can specify that approval for a list item is required before it can be viewed by everyone.

Integrate e-mail with a list - If incoming or outgoing e-mail is enabled on your site, some lists can take advantage of e-mail features. Some types of lists, such as calendars and discussions, can be set up so that people can add content to them by sending e-mail. Additionally, Office Outlook 2007 integrates with calendar, tasks, and contacts lists.

Customize permissions - Your organization can specify custom permissions for a list or even a single list item. This feature can be useful, for example, if a specific item contains confidential information.

Create and manage views - Your group can create different views of the same list. The contents of the actual list don't change, but the items are organized or filtered so that people can find the most important or interesting information.

Keep informed about changes - You can subscribe to RSS Feeds of lists and views to see updates to lists in your RSS viewer, such as Outlook 2007. If your organization has set up incoming e-mail, you can receive e-mail alerts when items change.

Manage lists and work offline with lists in Microsoft Office Access 2007 - You can manage lists with database tools and take lists offline with Office Access 2007.

View lists on mobile devices - You can view many lists, such as tasks lists and calendars, and document libraries on mobile devices. To view a mobile list, type /m after the Web address of the site. Mobile views are not available for some list types, such as discussions, and may not display all column types.

Common types of lists for collaboration

The following are some of the more common types of lists your organization can use:

Calendar - Use a calendar for all of your team's events or for specific situations, such as a project calendar or company holidays.

Tasks and project tasks - Use a tasks list to track information about projects and other events for your group. You can assign tasks to people, as well as track the status and percentage complete as the task moves toward completion. A project tasks list displays the tasks with progress bars, known as a Gantt view.

Issue tracking - Use an issue-tracking list to store issues, their status, and resolution. This is a common type of list for tracking support issues or incidents, such as customer service, quality assurance, or technical support.

Discussion boards - Use a discussion board to provide a central place to record and store team discussions that is similar to the format of newsgroups.

Announcements - Use an announcements list to share news and status and to provide reminders.

Contacts - Use a contacts list to store information about people or groups that you work with.

Links - Use a links list as a central location for links to the Web, your company's intranet, and other resources.

Surveys - Use a survey to collect and compile feedback, such as an employee satisfaction survey or a quiz.

Custom - Although you can customize any built-in list, you can start with a custom list and then add just the settings that you want. You can also create a list that is based on a spreadsheet, such as a Microsoft Office Excel 2007 workbook for managing contracts.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Content Management Systems Reviews - Documentum - Automatic Classification - Captiva Dispatcher

In my last post, I mentioned that Documentum has two tools for automatic classification: Content Intelligence Services (CIS) and EMC Captiva Dispatcher. I also described Content Intelligence Services (CIS) tool. In this my post, I am going to describe EMC Captiva Dispatcher.

EMC Captiva Dispatcher delivers high speed automatic content classification, data extraction, and routing documents. With Dispatcher, companies are able to scan multiple batches of structured, semi-structured, and unstructured content within a single flow, without a need for separator sheets, barcodes, or patch codes. By combining EMC Captiva Dispatcher with the Captiva InputAsset Intelligent enterprise capture platform, you can scan, classify, extract, and deliver data from almost any kind of electronic or paper document, often without a need for manual sorting or data entry.

The result is cost reduction and business process optimization which are measures that can help save time and money while increasing an ability to manage the flow of incoming documents.

One of the greatest strength of Dispatcher lies in its ability to identify similar document types. It uses both text and image based analysis to determine document types, automatically capture business data for search and archiving or to drive transactional processes and route documents to the appropriate department for processing. The technology works by automatically learning the attributes of existing documents and using them as a basis for classifying new incoming documents.

By analyzing document's layout design such as logos or other graphical elements, Dispatcher is completely language and format independent. In the case of unstructured and semi-structured documents, they system uses full-text engine results, looking for keywords and text phrases contained in a document to determine the document type. By learning documents based on a visual layout, new document types can be automatically added.

Dispatcher performs automated data extraction and validation, reducing the need for manual data entry and ensuring that accurate information is passed to back-office systems. Dispatcher includes several recognition engines that allow you to extract machine printed and handwritten text, check marks, and barcode information.

For structured forms, Dispatcher extracts data using fast and accurate pre-defined zones. For less structured documents, like invoices or contracts, Dispatcher extracts data using more flexible, free form recognition, enabling data to be extracted regardless of where it exists on a page.

This broad set of recognition technologies and methods ensure that data is extracted with the highest performance from structured forms, while also providing maximum flexibility to extract data from all document types.

As part of EMC Captiva intelligent enterprise capture solution, Dispatcher integrates seamlessly with InputAccel, providing a capture platform that supports both centralized and distributed environments. InputAccel custom capture process flows manage the end-to-end process, ensuring that documents are classified, data is extracted and validated, and information is delivered to all relevant content repositories and business systems. Leveraging InputAccel together provides organizations with a complete solution that is capable of processing volumes ranging from few thousand documents a day to several million.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Content Management Systems Reviews - Documentum - Automatic Classification

Documentum has two tools for automatic classification: Content Intelligence Services (CIS) and EMC Captiva Dispatcher. The subject of my today’s post is Content Intelligence Services (CIS. In my next post, I will describe EMC Captiva Dispatcher.

Content Intelligence Services (CIS) is an extension to the EMC Documentum content management platform that enables automatic classification and categorization of content in the Documentum repository. Its benefit is well organized, classified, and categorized content. With CIS, content is parsed and analyzed and classification rules are applied. The results of the classification can then be used for categorization as keywords to populate content metadata.

The capability of automatically creating keywords to populate content metadata can remove the burden from end users who otherwise have to do it manually. Many users struggle to consistently populate metadata as content is being created which significantly limits its future use since metadata is what enables processing of the content.

CIS eliminates this dependency on users. CIS can propose metadata to users who can accept or modify them as needed. CIS can provide support for a combination or automatic and manual classification with a special user interface to category owners. Category owners can make a classification decisions manually in cases where the automatic rules cannot classify content with a preset certainty level. The user interface is built into every Documentum client such as Webtop and becomes active upon detection of CIS in the system.

With CIS, the results of the classification can be used for content categorization which assigns content to appropriate categories. Typically, categories are represented by a folder structure to which content is linked. A category hierarchy – or taxonomy – is usually common to a department or an organization and allows all users to share the same navigation view for content in active project or content that has been archived.

CIS comes with prepackaged taxonomies for various industries. These taxonomies can be customized and used either out of box or as a starting point for a customization. Users can add categories and sub-categories to these taxonomies.

CIS supports major European languages. This enables the classification of local content in its native language against an enterprise-wide or local taxonomy. Using this multilingual capabilities, companies can deploy CIS globally, enhancing globalization capabilities of Documentum that include pervasive Unicode compatibility and localized user interfaces.

Next time: EMC Captiva Dispatcher.

Monday, August 13, 2012

SharePoint Libraries for Content Management

A library is a place on a site where team members can work together to create, update, and manage files. Each library displays a list of files and key information about the files.

Why work with libraries?

Storing your documents in a central location can help your team work on files together, especially if your files tend to be scattered among people's computers or in multiple shared folders on your network.

For example, the Marketing team uses a document library named Marketing Documents for managing its press releases, budget files, contracts, and other types of files. The library stores information that is relevant to the type of file, such as the name of the project that the file is associated with. The Marketing team also uses a slide library to share and reuse slides for presentations.

The Shared Documents library is created automatically when your team creates a new site. You can start using this library right away, customize it, or create other libraries. Your team can also create more specialized libraries, such as slide libraries, picture libraries, and form libraries.

The Marketing team tracks versions in its libraries, so the team has a history of how files have evolved and can restore a previous version if someone makes a mistake. Team members check out documents when they work on them, so that no one else can overwrite their changes.

If you want a workspace where you can coordinate work on a document or a small number of related documents, you can create a Document Workspace site. A Document Workspace site includes a document library in addition to a tasks list, schedules, and a list of workspace members. For storing your team's primary set of documents, which your team uses on a routine basis, use your team's Shared Documents library.

By default, people in the Members group can add files to and edit files in a library. If you don't have permission, contact the person who owns your site or library. If you are a site owner or designer, you can customize the library by changing how the files are displayed and managed.

Some key advantages of working with libraries

The following are some key features of libraries that enable your team to manage its files and work more efficiently. Advanced features for managing content, such as policies on how documents are used and shared, are explained in other topics.

Central location - a library is a central location where your team can update and manage documents. If your team members struggle to keep up with files stored on individual shares or sent in separate e-mail messages, a library can help reduce the chaos.

Checkout - you can check out a file to reserve it for your use so that others cannot change it while you are working on it. If you are using the 2007 Microsoft Office system, you can work with files on your computer, and even take them offline, when you check them out.

Versions - a library can track versions, which provides a version history and enables previous versions to be restored.

Alerts and RSS - you can set up e-mail alerts or subscribe to RSS Feeds so that you are updated on changes to files.

Views - your team can create views that show content in multiple ways that may be especially relevant or meaningful. For example, the Marketing team has views of files grouped by department and contracts that expire this month.

Search - libraries are searchable. For example, you can search on a title or property of a document, such as the document author.

Client integration - If you are running some 2007 Office release programs, such as Microsoft Office Word 2007, you can work with server features directly from the client, such as checking out files, updating server properties, or viewing a version history.

Approval - your library can be set up to require someone to approve files before they are displayed to others. This feature can be helpful if your library contains important guidelines or procedures that need to be final before others see them.

Content types - your team can set up content types for the types of documents it uses most often, such as marketing presentations, budget worksheets, and contracts. The content types include templates as a starting point, for formatting and any boilerplate text and for properties that apply to the documents of that type, such as department name or contract number.

Workflow - your group can apply business processes to its documents, known as workflows, which specify actions that need to be taken in a sequence, such as approving or translating documents.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

E-Discovery and Records Management

Discovery is the pre-trial phase in a lawsuit in which each party can request documents and other evidence from opposing parties. E-discovery deals with discovery of electronically stored information (ESI), including documents and e-mails.

E-Discovery preparedness makes it imperative for organizations to develop an enterprise wide strategy to manage the volume of electronic information. The discovery process affects many individuals in an organization, not just lawyers and others involved in discovery, but also IT professionals and records managers, who have to be prepared to produce electronic content for discovery and litigation.

For legal counsel, it means having a review process to determine what discovered content is relevant to the case. For an IT person, it means restoring backup tapes to show evidence on file shares, content management systems, e-mail systems, or other applications. But for records managers, this work will have begun long before any lawsuit with managing records for retention, placing legal holds, and finalizing disposition.

ESI presents special issues for discovery:
  • ESI can be replicated at a very low cost, resulting in tremendous volume;
  • Electronic content can be easily changed and deleted;
  • ESI can be backed up, creating more volume as content is copied;
  • Electronic content may require certain software to access and read;
  • ESI can reflect relationships based upon how it is distributed;
  • ESI may have associated metadata;
  • ESI can be searched.
Ediscovery could be costly because it requires organizations to retrieve content from servers, archives, backup tapes, and other media.

In some cases, an organization is unable to execute a discovery order because it is unable to locate all content in a timely manner, or it is unable to place holds on all content and some of it is deleted during the lawsuit. The inability to do this correctly also has a cost, and it can be considerable.

To address these costs, many organizations are looking at e-discovery solutions that will enable them to review the found content and take it through litigation.

But organizations can also lower costs for archiving and restoring, legal review, and sanctions by simply cutting down how much content it retains. Less stored content means less content on which to perform discovery.

On the other hand, because all ESI is now discoverable, organizations may be tempted to destroy that information as soon as possible to reduce the cost of discovery. But, some information must be kept for regulatory and compliance reasons. For example, many organizations are governed by regulatory bodies that require business information to be retained for a specific period of time. Some of that information might also be important to support the organization in case of litigation. Destroying the wrong information can lead to fines and unfavorable judicial decisions.

Some organizations may randomly pick through content to remove content that is deemed most risky. But in litigation, it will be necessary to prove that the deletion of this content was consistent with a policy that has been applied rigorously. Without audit trails and certificates of destruction, it can be difficult to prove compliance with an organization’s policies.

To avoid this situation, many organizations are simply choosing to keep everything. But this experience proves that the cost of restoring backup and archive tapes, as well as the cost of discovery and the inability to identify content and place immediate holds, can make this policy economically disastrous in the event of litigation.

Developing a strategy and a plan of action for handling e-discovery will help organizations mitigate their risk and save them a significant amount of money in the event of litigation. Organizations need to have a retention policy to determine which content can be destroyed and at what time and which content should be kept and for how long. The key is to have a retention program that is flexible enough to keep content for the right retention period.

Retention periods are historically thought of in terms of calendar events. A document that was created in 2000 may no longer be required in 2012, and so it may be destroyed. Retention periods for content are driven by events, such as the length of a project, the duration of a contract, or the termination of an employee. And the retention policies that match up to these content types must reflect the lifecycle of the content.

Organizations may choose to keep project information for x number of years after the end of the project. A workflow event that signals the end of a project, such as the publishing of a report, may commence the retention period for the associated e-mails and files. An organization may create a retention policy that a contract will be retained for x number of years after the end of the contract period. The end of the contract, then, could then trigger a lifecycle action for that document.

There are many types of events that could trigger a retention policy: content expired (e.g. a contract), usage statistics (e.g., document has not been accessed in six months), business event (e.g., environmental impact filing), content lifecycle event (e.g., new revision checked in).

There are many actions an organization can take based upon the retention policy: delete, notify author, archive, move, delete revisions, revise. These different actions can be applied to retained content over the course of its lifecycle as it moves from its active use to inactive status to its deletion.

The best approach to records management is where authors create content using their familiar tools and systems, and retention management is enforced on that content where it lives, from a centralized place. This approach has a number of benefits:
  • retention policies are centrally administered through a single interface;
  • a catalog of discoverable content is created;
  • holds can be placed instantly across these different systems, ensuring that evidence is not deleted during litigation;
  • disposition can be performed from a central place.
By categorizing content, creating a catalog of the content, creating a retention plan, implementing a hold methodology, and having disposition procedures, an organization will benefit in many ways. They include:
  • Decreased Risk – by keeping less content, an organization decreases the risk of adverse evidence being found;
  • Higher Productivity – by organizing content through a file plan, key information, such as regulatory filings, tax information, business licenses, invoices, and other content, can be more easily found;
  • Lower Discovery Costs – with less information available for discovery, an organization will reduce the cost of restoration of content and the cost of legal review;
  • Increased Flexibility – an organization will be prepared to present a catalog of discoverable content, which is a requirement in a case of a litigation;
  • Stronger Legal Action – By knowing the evidence that an organization possesses, legal counsel can more quickly assess strategy and pursue a settlement, which can be a huge money savings;
  • Less Vulnerability – organizations that are unable to comply with electronic discovery requirements are beginning to see nuisance lawsuits. When an organization cannot comply with discovery requirements, it may set a cost threshold – stating, for instance, that any lawsuit under $100,000 is not worth the discovery effort and should be settled. This exposes the organization to nuisance lawsuits that are brought at just under the threshold.
If you have not already done so, now is the time to develop ESI retention programs. Now is the time to create committees within your organizations and to bring their expertise together with legal counsel and IT to prepare for e-discovery and litigation. And, now is the time to focus on one of any organization’s greatest assets, its information.