The foundation of most of our business processes—including project management processes—is effective content management. Content management is important not just because of organizational efficiency, but for legal reasons. Using the wrong version of a drawing or document can lead to significant errors in the field as well as contract disputes and lawsuits.
For engineering organizations, content usually consists of drawings, 3-D models, photos, video and 3-D scans. These content pieces differ in size and data formats, so they are often housed in separate databases, or with shared files on a common server and individual files on desktops or laptops. These systems may not be well-managed or linked in any useful way. Business processes may create conflicts between department level systems and enterprise systems.
At minimum, an effective content management system will provide security, access control, and version control and workflow management. Advanced systems may offer additional features.
International standard management systems such as ISO 9000, 14000 and the new ISO 55000 for asset management all require effective documentation and content management to ensure the content is available and up to date. Mergers and acquisitions, along with some other financial transactions, require various forms of content discovery.
Useful technology for content management is available from many vendors. The process of system selection and implementation can be quite complex, but the key is always an effective statement of requirements. Something that is useful even if the implementation is done with existing tools or open-source systems.
Before getting started on a content management system, a project team must first agree on several things:
- What content will be tracked: proposals, plans, budgets, agreements, memos, emails, etc.
- Where it will be tracked: which areas and in which databases
- How it will be labeled: file and folder naming conventions
- Who has access to the content: internal users, partners, vendors, etc.
- How it will it updated and organized. Note: This is a shared responsibility in most projects
- What communications tools will be used and how will they access the content [note: email attachments are not normally an acceptable way to share content]
To learn more about how to improve content management in your own organization, watch for our new course on information management systems for asset management.