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Lifecycles and organizational awareness

April 5, 2010

In a previous post, we looked at some quick and easy ways the concept of lifecycles could contribute to an ECM initiative. In this post, we’ll take a look at one of the more advanced uses of lifecycles during ECM initiatives: to develop a more comprehensive view of the work of the organization.

Often the work done by an organization is poorly understood even by the folks who are part of the organization itself. More often than not, functional or organizational silos prevent employees from gaining a holistic or high-level view of the organization and how it delivers value to its customers. Or if not that, then the requirements of day-to-day job responsibilities prevent employees from taking the time to understand the broader organizational context of the work they do every day.

Yet whatever the reason, the end result is the same: work being done at the organization is decoupled from its larger context, i.e., how it provides value to the organization or its customers (or both). At many organizations I see a single facet dominating how employees understand the work they do, whether that’s a particular lifecycle (project, product, site) or some other grouping (function, geo location).

Lifecycles can be a powerful way to counteract this result by giving employees a better understanding of the total organizational context of their work. Lifecycles bring to light the enterprise level, cross-functional processes and activities that are supported by the individual efforts of employees across the organization, which are the lifecycle ecosystem at an organization. Some simplified examples by industry are:

  • Construction — asset lifecycle, site lifecycle, project lifecycle
  • Financial services — product lifecycle, customer lifecycle, account lifecycle, licensing lifecycle
  • Health care — product lifecycle, plan lifecycle, customer lifecycle, insured lifecycle
  • Insurance — product lifecycle, insured lifecycle, claim lifecycle
  • Mining — asset lifecycle, mine lifecycle, commodity lifecycle, site lifecycle, project lifecycle

Once stakeholders are aware of the larger lifecycle ecosystem at their organization, they can place the work they do in a richer context than is possible when they view the work of their organization along a single facet. And it’s within this richer context that a good portion of the value of an ECM initiative will be realized. From core capabilities (like document management, imaging, or document-centric workflow) to emerging ones (like social computing and collaboration), taking a truly enterprise view is critical to getting the most out of an ECM investment…and understanding the lifecycle ecosystem in play is a powerful way to get everyone on the project to rise up from the weeds of their day-to-day work and focus on the work of the enterprise as a whole.

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