What job does your product do?

The job a product does is very different from what it does, and what it delivers. Thinking about a product as though it does a job gives us a way to think about what it competes with, and other things that can do that job just as effectively.

Wine is a great example. When we think about wine and what we might choose instead, we typically think about beer or spirits. This largely depends on the job wine is doing for us.

If the job of wine on that night is to help us deal with stress, the competitors aren’t just beer and spirits, they are exercise, a massage, a walk somewhere pleasant, a trip to the beach, a good book – the list is far larger. If the job of wine is to show that we have refinement and taste, the job might also be done with nice clothing, a high end car, a day on a yacht or tickets to an opera.

Thinking about the job a product does provides us with a different lens, and helps us think more widely about who we compete with and what our opportunities are.

If you’ve got an audit problem, you’ve got a records problem.

“Regulatory audits are enjoyable experiences.”

That’s what organisations say when they have good records.

The audit process is smooth, efficient, and low stress, because they’re permanently ready.

Mostly though, regulatory audits aren’t enjoyable experiences. They are high stress, and there’s a huge rush of last minute work to try and be ready.

The last minute rush is record assembly.

It’s trying to create complete records out of all the pieces of information collected and created by your process.

When you have a complete record, you can hand it to the auditor knowing that it’s everything you have.

And the audit is, for lack of a better word – enjoyable.

Why “it doesn’t work” is dangerous

“It doesn’t work” is a dangerous phrase.

It’s almost always untrue.

People use it as code for any number of other ideas.

A couple of types of “doesn’t work” –

  1. Results didn’t occur quickly enough (so we stopped before they appeared).
  2. We don’t really understand the task (so we didn’t get results)
  3. It’s inefficient (it works, but costs more than we get out of it)
  4. No one else has got it to work (yet)
  5. Defies physics (can’t work under any circumstances)

History is littered with people who were unsuccessful because they mis-read the “doesn’t work” they were dealing with.

Recognising which “doesn’t work” you’re dealing with gives you options – but only if you recognise which one it is.

Four ways to get people in the habit of using Content Manager (or any Content Management System)

The largest issue facing records and managers now and forever, is adoption.

It’s the one thing we don’t seem to be able to get away from, and before the miraculous paper to digital paper transition can take place effectively, it needs to happen, becuase I don’t ever see a lot of government work starting anywhere but a word processor.

I regularly ask agencies that I work with how they’ve improved adoption, like them, I think I’m always looking for a magic bullet. The most common answer is always education – what an officer’s obligations are, how they need to fulfil them, how the system works. The list of 4 below are others that have come out of conversations with the agencies I’ve spoken to:

  1. Process Integration via TRIM based actions.
  2. Workflow with Performance Reporting.
  3. Make Content Manager part of your performance management framework.
  4. Make it a compliance step enforced by another system

Process integration via TRIM based actions.

Simply, this means making parts of the process TRIM based actions. Many systems available for various processes can be triggered in TRIM and if most of a person’s job can be triggered in TRIM – they’ll come back there often. A simple example is the DA process in local government, three common tools – Pathway, Trapeze and Connect can be integrated to Content Manager, meaning that for people working in that process, Content Manager becomes the natural place to start and finish.

Workflow with Performance Reporting.

No real surprise that workflows get people using the system. What often gets missed though, is the inclusion of Performance Reporting. Workflow implemented without Performance Reporting is useful, but largely invisible to managers, and if all management reporting is a spreadsheet – it doesn’t matter how the work is getting done.

If Content Manager or a third party integrated workflow system is managing and reporting on how someone does their job, and that’s being fed automatically to management via a dashboard, they’ll go there frequently. It takes time and effort to set up, but once it’s done well, people will never go anywhere else and managers will get used to understanding what is going on with their process.

Make Content Manager part of your performance management framework. 

One agency I have worked with assesses employee performance based on what is in their CM system. Their policy is that if it’s not in there, it doesn’t exist, so when it comes time to assess performance, work product needs to be there. People who aren’t producing work don’t get promoted, so record keeping is a routine part of everyone’s job.

Make it a compliance step enforced by another system

Many workflow management systems aren’t integrated into Content Manager but can still be used to enforce Content Manager usage. Mandating the includsion of a link to the Content Manager document supporting the completion of a process or process stage can ensure that people are filing supporting documentation and that it’s findable from the process management system later.

Ultimately there’s no magic bullet.

There are lots of ways to move the needle – a little at a time. These methods have worked for other people

I’d love to hear what’s worked for you.

Least capture is the new security principle you need to work to.

We are in a world where privacy regulations are giving control back to people, and imposing significant penalties on organisations that don’t adequately secure personally identifiable information.

There are only really two possible things your organisation can focus on to navigate this new landscape.

The first is to spend more on securing your data than you ever have before. This is the easy route – because greater magnitude of harm means greater risk mitigation expenditure. The maths is simple, the board will get it.

The second way is to reduce data data capture to the bare minimum, and delete or anonymise what you’ve captured as soon as you can.

This isn’t easy, it requires your whole organisation to take a disciplined approach to data capture that recognises the new risks.

It requires questions like “why do we need that data to deliver our service, and for how long” to be asked and acted on as a matter of routine. If you’re doing really well, you’ll have a business case for every bit of data you capture that will also have a time value.

Innovative solutions will be required to gain the advantage of broad and long term data capture, without incurring the liability, and without becoming target.

The hardest part will be getting people to hit the delete button, because we’re used to hoarding, not minimalism. We’re convinced that data is the new oil, when it’s actually the new Plutonium, and needs to be handled like it.

There will be two types of organisations in the future – those who overspend on security, get nothing back on their investment and still get fined, and those who capture only what they have to, and innovate. The second way is better.

How to raise the quality of your corporate information, and make search easy.

Stop making copies.

Creation of original content is difficult and time-consuming.

Creation of a copy takes seconds.

When we went digital, copies got cheap. So we make more.

When you stop making copies search gets easier, and quality goes up.

If you want to raise your information quality, and make search easy, stop making copies.

The download report button is carcinogenic

How comfortable are you having a conversation that starts “the spreadsheet you emailed is going to cost us four million dollars”? Probably not very comfortable – but it’s where current data handling practices will lead us. Privacy laws are penalising loss of control of data – not actual harm to subjects of the data. This is why controlled handling needs to be an operational capability for any organisation handling personal data.

The CRM system is a great example of the problem – it generally has the crown jewels of personal data, and easy download capability. The standard response to “joe needs a list of customers for x” is to cut a spreadsheet full of personal information, and email it.

Then what?

Every system the data touches after that makes a couple of uncontrolled copies – backups, replications, shares, edits. It’s like cancerous cells – a few here and there multiply to become a much larger problem. Under GDPR, it’s a 4% of revenue sized problem when the data is emailed to the wrong person.

The key to removing the problem is providing capability to handle data without downloading it. Simply, your employees need to be able to run their business process end-to-end without downloading and emailing a spreadsheet. If they can’t, you’ve got a carcinogenic problem within your organisation.