ECM Governance - Part Two

In this post, I would like to continue along with the ECM governance work we previously started and delve further into the core of what defines governance: guiding principles.

If you want to consider implementing governance of any type, you are going to need to define a foundation on which to build rules for how things will be governed.  As an example, our society is governed by legislation and laws, but in reality, legislation and laws sit on a morale foundation for their existence.  This morale base can be referred to as the principles of our society or the “Spirit of the law”.  As society defines the morale base and politicians and law makers interpret the morale base to make the laws and legislation, so to does the business define the guiding principles for ECM.  The actual interpretation of the guiding principles into the making of rules will come later on when we talk about the job of the steering committee, but I think you already have an idea of their role.
In the case of ECM governance, the foundation needs to be clearly defined through what we refer to as guiding principles.  The guiding principles are general rules that help guide us toward the vision we defined in our previous ECM exercise.  With each principle we have two parts: the definition and the implication.  The definition defines what the principle intends to set rules around, while the implication provides context and understanding of how the principle will affect business users.  If we look at an example (one that should exist in all governance plans), we can see how the principles provide a foundation for use:

Example: All Content is owned.
Principle: All content must have a clearly identified “owner.”
Implication: Users need to know who to contact if information is out of date or inaccurate. The owner is responsible for the content in a site and for ensuring it is up to date.

This is a simple principle, but the implications can be quite extensive in an organization.  As mentioned in this basic example, ownership implies accountability for content and all content must be owned.  Notice the principle is short and concise, while the implication should be as detailed as needed to ensure that it identifies all the areas affected by the principle.  Our example is currently not detailed in the implication, but that is because the implications are typically specific to each organization.
If we were to look at these principles they can be categorized into several areas of impact.  These areas are as follows:

  • General Principles
  • Security Principles
  • Document Management Principles
  • Publishing Principles
  • Collaboration Principles
  • Business Process Principles
  • Esthetic Principles

Each of the above areas cover off the usage and capabilities of the ECM, but additionally help you guide and focus on rules that are important to an ECM.

In our next session, I will examine each of these principle areas and outline the types of principles that you would expect to see in an organization.  For all our future examples, I will use SharePoint as the ECM of choice, though these principles could be applied to any ECM.