April 2009
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ECM Maturity Model In A Nutshell

Come gather ’round people wherever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

As some of you may be aware, the ECM Maturity Model (ECM³) was recently released. The aim of the model is to provide a structured framework that allows an enterprise to measure their level of capability in various ECM areas, and provide a roadmap for improvement. If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, maybe you should read this instead. If you don’t know what ECM is, have a look at this excellent AIIM Slideshow. If, like me, you think this is super cool and long overdue, read on. Also, if you’ve ever seen anything like this in your directory structure at work (names deleted to protect the guilty), read on too …

The model is released under a Creative Commons license and is the result of the collaboration between four firms – Wipro, CMS Watch, Smigiel Consulting Group and Hartman Communicatie. No-one is trying to make any money out of this. Just a bunch of smart people trying to provide some rigour in an area which certainly needs it. Importantly, the model does not cover Web Content Management (WCM) but instead looks at traditional ECM (Document Management, Digital Asset Management, Knowledge Management, Records Management and Business Process Management ). It has a handy glossary if you want more information on any of these.

In summary, the framework provides 13 maturity dimensions, categorised as one of Human, Information or Systems. The general idea is that a company should rank themselves on a scale of 1 (unmanaged, you suck) to 5 (pro-active, you rock) against each dimension. This figure taken from the document shows all the dimensions. A fuller description of each is included in the framework.

ECM Maturity Dimensions

So, how do we categorise ourselves against these dimensions? And what does each level mean for each dimension? That’s the genius – a really well thought out single page chart provides the tool to do this. In my humble opinion, this chart is worth its weight in gold. When I first looked at it, it just felt right. Logical, well thought out and user friendly. Here it is (click to enlarge):

ECM Maturity Model Chart

I downloaded the 37 page document about a month ago, but felt I had to test it before writing about it. So on Monday a guest speaker canceled and I was able to hijack my company’s weekly Technical Architects’ meeting. Sweet!. I gave the others a 10 minute summary of the model, handed out the 5 copies of the chart, and we all independently rated our own Enterprise. We then took the average (did somone say crowd-sourced?) and drew our own ECM Maturity chart which is now stuck on the wall next to my desk.

After performing this exercise, I like the model even more. The independent rankings provided by my colleagues were all remarkably close. No-one was ever more than 1 point away from the average score on any dimension, which tells me that the framework is generally logical and unambiguous. The whole meeting only took an hour.

“So what is the point?”, you may ask. The first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one. This exercise really highlights where your efforts should be focused. For example, there is no point buying expensive software if you don’t have executive buy-in, if you have not performed a thorough content audit, or if your IT function cannot support you. It helps you “understand where you are over- and under-spending in one dimension or another”. The document even provides suggestions describing how best to progress to the next level in each area. It’s your free ECM roadmap in a box and a great tool for getting sponsorship from those that hold the purse strings.

According to this posting, the model has already been downloaded nearly 1000 times. I would really like to send my appreciation to the 5 people (Alan Pelz-Sharpe, Apoorv Durga, David Smigiel, Erik Hartman and Tony Byrne) that devoted a large chunk of their valuable time (2 elapsed years!) to create this so that people like me and my clients can benefit. I’d urge you all to test it internally or with your clients and feed your thoughts back to the community via the team blog.

I do have some thoughts and suggestions around improvements to the document. If anyone is interested, you can read my more formal feedback (some of which is pretty anal) here: ecmmmfeedback20090403.txt.

Finally, before anyone asks, I am not going to lift the corporate skirt and reveal our scores. Suffice to say, we didn’t have enough 4′s and 5′s and we even had a 1. And we’re meant to be experts. No-one ever said ECM was gonna be easy.

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