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    Last month, I wrote about the need to dedicate resources for enterprise content management (ECM) in order to have a successful program attain rapid time‑to‑value. I wrote about the need for a center of excellence (CoE)—dedicated and committed resources—that supports all aspects of information governance (IG) technology deployments. While the focus last month was on ECM, the same commitment of resources and a CoE approach applies to IG solutions like file analysis, classification and remediation, e-discovery, email archiving, etc. SharePoint deployments also benefit from a CoE as well.

    One reason to use a CoE approach as opposed to an “implementation team” is the very idea that it is a “center”—an entity that is meant to be permanent, ongoing, and enterprise strong. An IG CoE will likely grow with time to encompass more interrelated technologies to maximize the value they bring to the enterprise.

    How are CoEs structured to be successful?
    Let’s look at some key success factors:
    • CoE resources receive guidance from the enterprise steering committee.Resources need to be allocated to the highest valued projects—not to the squeaky wheel. Most important, the steering committee will have executive sponsorship, which will be critical to keep projects moving forward. Steering committees may have other names and be more or less formal, but without their blessing and guidance, a CoE will struggle.
    • The CoE must be empowered as a cross-functional, enterprise-focused group, even the simplest deployment has to consider all upstream contributors and downstream consumers. A SharePoint site, for example, that doesn’t consider metadata and search requirements of downstream consumers will simply be another manifestation of a department's shared drive—what a wasted effort!
    • Non-core human resources, such as database admins or programmers, have to be committed, as we discussed last month.
    • Business area resources (managers, subject matter experts) involved in the technology deployment—interested resources—must have time committed to the project, even if it means backfilling their time.
    • Dedicated staff, especially business analyst(s), must have organizational experience; individuals who have worked in many parts of the organization, have good social connections, and are highly regarded will have the most success navigating inter-company waters and know how to get the resources needed to keep projects moving forward.
    With those success factors in place, the CoE will have a strong footing on which to build. Now, let’s look at different approaches to structuring the CoE.

    A centralized CoE
    A centralized CoE is the most common structure and follows the traditional program management approach typically utilizing these full- or part-time resources:
    • Program Manager: overall responsibility for the CoE and associated resources; interfaces with the steering committee.
    • Project Manager: typically manages multiple deployments; interfaces with targeted business area managers and subject matter experts (SMEs) to ensure they have committed time to the project.
    • Business Analyst(s): defines the technology requirements and works with manager(s) and SMEs to confirm design parameters. For ECM, for example, they would gather indexing requirements, business system integration points, document types, confirm records management requirements, and, for workflow, define current and future process states. Working with the technical administrator, they build the deployment in a test environment and validate the setup with the customer. Implementations are managed by the project manager but guided by the business analyst with administrator support.
    • Technical Administrator (may be part-time): maintains the hardware infrastructure, understands the technical underpinning of the system, and works with the business analyst to build, test, and deploy solutions.
    Committed resources not part of the core team include:
    • Database admins
    • Programmer
    • Records manager
    • Legal
    • Security officer
    • And others as needed
    Smaller organizations will combine some of these functions or use part-time resources, such as a program manager who has responsibility for the IG CoE and another program.

    Decentralized CoE business analysts
    Another approach that can be successful depends on how your information technology (IT) and business analyst (BA) resources are deployed in the organization. If BAs are committed to a specific department and have responsibility for helping the business be successful, then train all of the BAs on the technology solutions, and it is up to them to use the best tool to solve the problem at hand. For example, one of my clients has PeopleSoft as their core business system: Departments have functions in the cloud. They have an ECM. They have the usual assortment of programming and web development tools. The BA dedicated to the business can solve a problem with any of the solutions, or a combination of them, depending on which offers the best value to the customer.

    In this environment, the IG CoA still exists, but it primarily supports the BAs by coordinating additional resources, as needed, coordinating with upstream and downstream functional areas, and ensuring projects meet enterprise IG goals and objectives.

    The bottom line
    An IG CoE forces the enterprise to consider the implications of IG technology initiatives by creating a resource center that will be guided by an executive‑supported institution (steering committee), follow enterprise objectives, and have appropriate investment in human resources. With this approach, organization will realize rapid time-to-value and a substantial return on investment.

    Jim Just is a Partner with IMERGE Consulting, Inc., with over 20 years of experience in business process redesign, document management technologies, business process management, and records and information management. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @jamesjust10.

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