Last week I called SharePoint a legacy system and that there were many document graveyards/coffins out there built upon SharePoint. I also said that SharePoint was just the latest Content Management system to host document graveyards. This lead to an entertaining discussion as well as related articles by Ron Miller questioning the point of Content Management and Billy Cripe discussing the need for a new focus for Content Management Systems.
Before moving forward, I want to clarify. I was not slighting SharePoint. If anything, it was a recognition of what SharePoint has achieved as a legitimate Content Management system.
Let’s now take a step back and look at keeping Content alive.
I learned years ago that no one tool is right for every job. While this is true in the Content Management space, for many challenges, multiple tools could be effective. What usually defines “success” is the planning and governance involved.
Let’s face it, SharePoint is generating a lot of document graveyards because it is being deployed a lot. It isn’t a weakness of SharePoint. It is the same weakness that existed before SharePoint when organizations threw Content Management solutions over the wall and expected them to stick.
If there aren’t already, there will soon be graveyards built upon Box. It is a sign of success of the platform and a sign of failure by Information Professionals.
Granting Life to Content
Gabor Fari (who should write a post on this topic) and Billy both say that a strong collaborative system, properly designed and implemented, can give Content life. I think Billy puts it best when he says that Content should be exhibited.
I think that this type of system where Content is developed and readily revisited and leveraged is great.
It just isn’t the only way.
A well designed Case Management can give life to Content. Why? Let me give an example…
Let’s say I’m performing Correspondence Management. A piece of correspondence comes in and I have the responsibility to respond. I should be able to quickly locate other items on the same topic or from the same person. I can look at the previous responses and craft the new response appropriately. Meanwhile, metrics can be run to identify trends and see what is happening.
All About Context
What both examples have in common is that the Context of the Content is providing the value. Whether that Context is provided collaboratively or through using proper use of processes, that is the value. The sum of the information around that Content and its Context is the value.
No tool will give that to you. Only a well thought-out design, implementation, and proper governance will give it to you. Sure, some tools will fit some business problems better than others, but the tool cannot provide Context. That is up to the people using the system.
Is it frustrating that there are a lot of document graveyards? Yes, without question. Does it mean that my career has been wasted? Absolutely not. I’ve created many systems that aren’t graveyards and I’m proud of those systems. There are also a couple graveyards that I had a hand in building.
The existence of these graveyards existing universally should be a wake-up call. We as Information Professionals should strive to eliminate them. If you are reading this, it is your responsibility. These systems should not be dumping grounds. If people can’t find what they need or decided it isn’t worth looking, then why store the Content at all?
That is the real question. If nobody accesses the Content because it is buried, why not just kill it once and for all?