As we head toward the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference in early November, I’m pondering ways IT organizations can address item #4 on EDUCAUSE’s list of top IT trends for 2012: “Improving the institution’s operational efficiency through information technology.” Why this item? Frankly, I’m honing in on this one because operational efficiencies can be greatly impacted – for better or worse – by the range of capabilities (or lack thereof) provided by one critical component of an IT infrastructure: the enterprise content management (ECM) platform. That’s assuming, of course, there is one in place at your institution.
Unfortunately, many colleges and universities have neither a roadmap nor a solution for getting them to true enterprise-supporting ECM. Instead, the IT landscape is often dotted with departmentally disconnected bits and pieces of basic document imaging and basic workflow routing capabilities. Useful but extremely limited, these are the barest bones of an ECM framework. This non-governed, piecemeal approach blindly ignores a comprehensive ECM strategy – the kind that drives and supports operational efficiencies across a wide and complex range of cross-campus processes and needs.
And, even if an institution has deployed a centrally managed document management system used by various departments, a study of its functional area use and a look under its covers – from a design and administration standpoint – may reveal significant limitations to optimal, efficiency-driving utilization and to cross-enterprise expansion. What can an institution do when it finds itself backed into ECM-stifling corners? In a word, convert. Move to a single, comprehensive system that doesn’t force departments to bump their heads against a low ceiling of capabilities and doesn’t require a heavy reliance on central IT to administer, upgrade and expand.