5 mistaken beliefs about information management in Higher Ed

Your university may or may not have a strategy for managing content, the unstructured information streaming in and out of all areas of your campus on a daily basis. It’s likely you at least have a partial strategy where one or more of your departments is capturing and storing some type of unstructured information for later retrieval.

In a world where the use of digital channels is enabling organizations to synthesize large amounts of information in seconds, universities are making it a top priority to gain control of that rogue 80%, which is the approximate amount of unstructured information slipping through the cracks. This information is not easily accessible because it is scattered and isolated in departmental or personal file systems. This is the information employees need to do their jobs.

Information management 20% structured 80% unstructured information

University structured v. unstructured content

Content management services and software technologies have adapted to changing business environments so quickly over the past ten years, it is difficult to keep up with where the capabilities lie today. The following are five mistaken beliefs about content management and the facts that dispel those beliefs.

5. Content management is mostly beneficial for scanning and archiving documents.

Content management covers the lifecycle of information from creation and publication to archival and eventual disposal. One of the largest benefits of content management is enabling workflow automation. A perfect example is when someone in your organization wants to buy something. The individual begins to create documentation such as pricing research, correspondence, a requisition, purchase order, invoice and a contract to name a few. With workflow automation, these supporting documents are captured, routed and accessed interdepartmentally for approval, payment and auditing. Transactions are processed in hours or days instead of weeks.

4. An SIS (Student Information System) or other business application can effectively manage unstructured information.

Business applications such as student information systems manage an organization’s structured information, i.e. student and employee records, financial information such as the general ledger, receivables, payables and payroll. They are designed to manage an organization’s transactions related to business operations, and may contain a limited document and process management component.

ERP systems are not customizable and therefore are not designed to manage an organization’s diverse business processes. Without content management, even with an ERP system, employees are bogged down with manual processes and paper. Enterprise content management fills the gaps in any ERP system by providing workflow functionality using graphical implementation techniques to fit any business process environment with minimal development. Unstructured content is stored in a single repository and accessible enterprise wide.

3. A user must access content from several interfaces or portals to get all the information needed.

Using service-oriented architecture, functionality is packaged as a suite of interoperable services, a middle layer that makes integration of content between separate applications flexible and easy. This allows workers to access and view all content from a single screen, i.e. in the ERP, HR, Financial or CRM system. Full text and keyword search is streamlined and eliminates the need to access multiple applications or search through electronic/paper files.

2. Each department must have a separate instance or installation of the content management software.

Since many documents effect multiple processes and cross multiple departments, an enterprise content infrastructure eliminates problems inherent in vertical applications and island architectures. Content is shared through services built on a single platform and an information repository with a uniform structure that eliminates the need to install a separate instance of the same software application in each department.

1. Enterprise Content Management is more expensive than departmental point solutions.

Departmental or vertical solutions are designed and built to support only one business application or process, and will work ok if only one department in your university needs content management. Since that is not often the case, this type of software is required to be installed separately and customized for use in each department. The result is higher expense to implement and maintain duplicate software applications and content repositories.

Enterprise content management software is built as a middleware infrastructure that can be extended to all departments, reducing the overall cost of information management across the university. The initial implementation cost is marginally higher but the cost of extending the system throughout the organization is substantially lower. A point solution is generally purchased by and for a single department and may appear to cost less up front. The cost increases exponentially as each department implements its own system.