Posts Tagged ‘ audit ’

Why can’t your stuff just go where it’s suposed to go?

Have you ever found it difficult to find a document someone sent you a while ago? Maybe it was important, you cant remember where you filed it. You can search your computer, your usb drives, your online storage provider, even your mobile phone. Tags make it easier and there are always some plug-ins that promise to make it easier. None of them work very well.

Why can’t your stuff just go where it should be? I use Box.net as my content management system for Openera. My wife and I use Dropbox for my personal stuff. Why can’t the files my co-workers send me go where I store my work stuff and my personal files go where my personal stuff goes?

That is the question I have asked myself lately in the hopes of answering another vexing problem facing just about all content management systems: user adoption. The number 1 reason new IT initiatives fail is lack of user adoption. This is true of just about any new application but amplified for any system that relies on user input (content in the form of data, documents, videos, photos…etc.) like content management (CMS) and customer relationship management systems. (CRM) The systems are only valuable if users contribute, if they don’t the system falls prey to diminishing returns.  The less people contribute, the less people trust the relevance of the content.

To take this question to the next level I began thinking about the reasons these systems fail when adoption fails. It comes down to the way people work. Google is a success because people trust that they can quickly and easily search and find relevant content online. Outside of the SEO world, people don’t really think about putting content “into Google.” Results end up “in Google” by the nature of what people do online, without having to do anything different. Just by writing a blog entry, updating facebook, tweeting a review of a great restaurant, posting pictures to Flickr or videos to YouTube, value is added to Google searches. The same is not true of traditional ECM (Open Text, Documentum, Vignette…) or CRM solutions. ( Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle OnDemand, Siebel) Users are asked to change their behaviour. They have to check-in a document, save files to specific locations, or bcc: catch-all email inboxes.

I’ve been a part of the structured and unstructured content management world since 1991. Back then we called it document management, some records management, email management, even knowledge management. The number one challenge was always the same.

User adoption. We always asked users to change the way they worked. We had a killer solution for document management at Interleaf, Open Text, Documentum, Hummingbird and others. But, we asked users to do something different. Don’t email files back and forth. Don’t save documents to shared drives. Check your documents into a document management system and send someone a link to the document. That way we can track who accesses the documents and can provide an audit trail. (Don’t we all love being audited?) It sounded like a great idea, from a technology standpoint it made perfect sense. Less content travelling across the networks led to the better use of bandwidth and resources. Sending links to files instead of the files themselves meant that we could collaborate on the same version of a file. There were so many benefits, why didn’t people just change the way they worked so they could realize all these benefits? I wish I was kidding when I recall my co-workers talking about how stupid people are that email files back and forth and not using our brilliant solution. Well, people aren’t stupid, the technology was great, but it didn’t address user behaviour in the design of the solution.

In short, the preceding challenge is what what I want to focus on as we embark on the development of our solution to this problem. A problem that shouldn’t exist. A problem that should have been solved a decade ago. If computers are so darn smart, why don’t they put my stuff where it’s supposed to go?

Sales, marketing and cloud…audit your processes first!

I don't want an audit.

Hear no evil!

Every business owner loves being audited. (no they don’t) Financial audits are necessary for compliance reasons and help protect your business from undue risk. Some would say they are a necessary evil, but my wife spent her early career as an auditor for Earnst & Young and I don’t associate her with evil. (Happy wife, happy life is my motto!)
So, when was the last time you audited your business practices? Not your books, your business.
  • Why do you do things the way you do them?
  • Are you selling to the right audience?
  • Are your sales and marketing efforts working?
  • Are you spending too much for too little return?
  • Do you have the right mix of talent to meet your goals?
  • Why do your customers buy from you? Why won’t they buy more?
  • Are the things you are doing working?

Are you are satisfied with your results and see a history and a future of steadily increasing profits? Then you are golden. Don’t change a thing. If not, you need an audit. Here are a few more audit questions to ask yourself:

  • who are your partners? why are they your partners? What value do they add?
  • who specifically is your target market? why?
  • how much do you spend trying to get new business?
  • where do you spend the most of your money? why? what’s the ROI?
  • what activities, expenses or programs are helping to sell more? how are they doing it?
  • what activities, expenses or programs are pure overhead? can they be eliminated?
If you can’t answer these basic questions, you are running your business at less than potential profitability. There is a reason companies get audited by impartial third parties. Objectivity & purpose. Ask the tough questions and look for things you didn’t think about that can help your business. You can turn to your management consulting or accounting firm for some questions.
When it comes to asking tough sales, marketing and business development questions to help you sell more, who can you turn to?
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.