For quite some time we’ve been hearing that the average amount of information an organization creates and receives grows exponentially every year. In order to create business value, organizations must find a way to effectively manage that information. However, despite decades of AIIM and other information management leaders pushing for the establishment of better management practices, most organizations’ information “management” still resembles a digital landfill more than an effective resource.

Why is this? There are a few reasons, but it may be that the solution we’ve all been pushing is actually part of the problem.

Too often we position information management as an “all or nothing” scenario, where if we don’t dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s, the CEO will go to jail or the company will face lawsuits. While these are actual worst-case outcomes for bad information management, the more important point is that the business is in the business of the business, and anything that gets in the way of getting things done is a tough sell. People have to be connected to the outcome.

We have to understand that the real value of information management and the key to getting buy-in across the board isn’t compliance, or records management or not getting sued – it’s in making reliable information more accessible to more people quickly, so that they can make better decisions and move the organization forward.

Not a One Size Fits All Solution

Every organization is at a different place in the information management journey, each uses different systems and requirements, and most have multiple systems that create, store and interact with information. While the notion of consolidating into a single “source of truth” is a compelling vision, it’s also very unlikely to happen. There are simply too many systems with too much information in them to make consolidation a likelihood in any reasonable period of time. We have to live with what we have and make it work the best we can.

So how do we do that? How can we make all these systems meet all these requirements in order to drive business value?

The first step is to recognize these issues and how they are actively impacting your organization. In other words, assess where you are and where the biggest pain points exist. The good news is that you don’t have to do this alone – there are a wealth of resources available to you to help identify, prioritize and address your issues:

  • Peers
    Part of AIIM’s mission is to bring together peers to share challenges, lessons learned and best practices. And we’re not alone in this – there are a number of associations that share this commitment to networking and shared learning.
  • Consultants
    Consultants work with organizations in different industries, of different sizes and at different levels of maturity; they’ve been there and done that. They have experience with different types of technology, and they can help you find a solution that works for your circumstances.
  • Solution Providers
    Too often we overlook vendors because we perceive that they have a vested interest in making a sale. I think it’s more accurate to say that most solution providers have a vested interest in solving problems. Sometimes their products are the best solution – sometimes they aren’t, but nobody wants to be a bad fit. At the same time, their team members are world-class experts on their solution and often their competitors’ solutions as well, and they have real-world experience in helping organizations to address their information management issues.
  • Research Analysts
    Making the investment to engage with an analyst firm can pay dividends because you have the opportunity to speak to the top experts in their respected field, and they have seen everything so can advise you accordingly. Speaking to an analyst may be a good starting point to help you in the assessment phase and save you a lot of time trying to do the research yourself.

The Business is in the Business of the Business

There is no right way to approach your information management, and there are many other resources out there that you can use to assist your organization along the journey. What is a universal truth, though, is that scare tactics about worst-case penalties do not motivate people to adhere to information management policies and proclaimed “best practices.” By shifting the focus to gaining value from the information so that it directly benefits everyone, real change can occur.


Don’t miss Jesse’s webinar on Harnessing Your Information to Create Business Value!


About the Author: Jesse Wilkins, CIP, CRM, IGP, is the Director, Research & Development for AIIM International. He has worked in the information management industry for 20 years as an end user, vendor, consultant and trainer. His areas of expertise include enterprise content management, electronic records management, email management, and social media technologies and governance processes. He has developed numerous AIIM training courses including the Electronic Records Management Master Class, the Enterprise Content Management Master Class, and the Social Media Governance Practitioner Course, and has served as a subject matter expert for the CompTIA CDIA+, the TAWPI Information Capture Professional and the AIIM Certified Information Professional (CIP). To see his full background and expertise, find Jesse on LinkedIn.