Avoiding document management mayhem

Avoiding document management mayhem

As the industry consolidates, fewer vendors with true enterprise content management skills are left to cover the market

Enterprise Content Management (ECM) has never been so exciting. With consolidation among vendors, much of the industry’s expertise is now fading within large corporations. There are few specialist vendors that really understand records. Whilst many public sector organisations are well versed with issues such as regulatory compliance, the examples of Enron and WorldCom have highlighted the need for better corporate governance and better ECM practice in the private sector. A recent independent survey, ‘Document Mayhem in the UK and Republic of Ireland’ reveals that the business potential in this sector is vast.

One in six (16 per cent) employees lies to cover up mistakes that have resulted from the wrong version of information being presented to colleagues, management, suppliers and/or customers, because of poor computer file management. The report reveals that 67 per cent of employees at middle manager or below think people in their organisation might have unknowingly presented the wrong version of information in this way, with 10 per cent saying that the information was then re-used elsewhere.

The most common outcome from these errors among respondents was personal embarrassment (23 per cent). But, this pales against the business reality of losing customers, legal battles, staff dismissals, poor publicity and worst of all – failing to meet regulatory compliance such as Sarbanes-Oxley, Basel II, MIFID, e-government and beyond. Perhaps more worrying, is that these statistics are just the errors that we know about, or that people are prepared to admit to. The problem is probably far greater, particularly as the errors are perpetuated by the re-use of wrong or out of date computer files, documents and email. 63 per cent of employees questioned say negative consequences have resulted from the presentation of incorrect information. Eight per cent say legal action was taken out against their organisation, seven per cent say they suffered bad publicity and six per cent say they actually lost customers.

In addition 85 per cent of all senior managers are dealing with at least one business issue related to risk mitigation, regulation, compliance or growth. 40 per cent are dealing with all of them. Yet, over a third (34 per cent) of employees at middle manager or below have worked on a wrong or out of date version of a computer file or document because colleagues have worked on it and not saved it correctly. This happens to more employees in the private sector ( six per cent) where there is a lower take-up of EDRM systems such as TRIM Context solution, than the public sector. This is because the public sector has been more heavily regulated, for longer. Almost half (47 per cent) of those surveyed admit fewer mistakes would be made by employees if computer files were shared in a proper manner. Almost a third (30 per cent) believes they would be better able to meet regulatory compliance, and 27 per cent think there would be better corporate governance.
Also interesting is that 35 per cent of employees think a computer file sharing system would allow them to track the source of leaked email. Technically, email content is a corporate file, and should be treated as such.

Tony Sumpster is president northern region at Tower Software