ECM “roadshow” across a university campus — how would you approach it?

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This is somewhat related to Andy Lavender’s post regarding communicating the retention schedule.
It began with getting my CIP and a cake to celebrate it delivered to the office at work. Our new Director had asked me about AIIM and why I sought the certification. A little over a year later, more than a few emails and comments from yours truly, combined with an increasing willingness on the part of campus constituents to ask the new Director about ITS services for their departments: we’re finally having conversations about ECM. Until recently I’d felt that I was pushing the ECM concept uphill as (or so it seemed) committee members were only focused on replacing our legacy document management system with something providing just the functionality we have now to just the departments using the system now.
My boss wisely noted that the shift is in part due to the fact that her boss (that same Director) engaged in a “roadshow” to talk to departments across the campus about developing a web strategy. Her thought is that we need do the same for ECM.

Naturally, I am ecstatic… and a wee bit anxious. No, we do not yet have an IG committee. How do I approach departments that had asked our ITS (Information Technology Services) about scanning years ago and never got off the ground? How do I excite these departments about the benefits ECM would bring to them and how do I assure those feeling insecure in keeping their jobs that there is other, more interesting work, they will be freed up to do once manual filing is extinct? Yes, I’ve read related AIIM publications and I’ve watched the PowerPoint presentations.

In short, how do I sell ECM across a university campus that is (not without cause) a bit leery of uninvited change?
We have been striving to schedule a meeting with the Director –to learn how that roadshow worked. I am encouraged by what other universities have done ( example: 2Records Management Services | Records Management) and I am very interested in advice, lessons learned, cautions etc from members here, particularly those with experience in Higher Education.

Thanks VERY much for your time. I look forward to your responses.


I started my professional consulting career back in the 90’s in what is now known as OCM (Organizational Change Management). Before the term had even been coined really. The lessons I learned back then I have tried to apply when and where I can since.

To that, the best advise I can give would be to NOT sell “ECM”. Sell people on ‘findability’. In almost every organization today, that is one of the most time consuming, least value-adding, and most frustrating, activities that occurs across the user spectrum. Up to, including, and PAST, your Director.

So, whether the finding is driven by compliance requirements, or day-to-day productivity, it is still about being about to find content when it is needed. And like any other outcome in business (including the business of education), input effort is required upfront and on-going to generate that outcome effectively. That is obviously where metadata tagging and records classification and the other mechanics that make ‘findability’ happen come in.

As far as the “lose my job” concern, you can very honestly and realistically tell people that ECM initiatives VERY seldom involve job loss. Rather, if done well, they simply deliver to the (usually across the organization) EFFECTIVITY improvements management and executive are almost always striving for. The notable exception to this is generally BPM. However, if you push BPM down towards later phasing in your roadmap then A) job losses aren’t a real thing till somewhere ‘in the future’ and B) your organization could/would be more universally ready to successfully execute some seriously efficient process automation.

Feel free to ping me directly if you want to discuss more.


Thank you! I ought to have remembered reading that once before and I will definitely take this advice. Undoubtedly I’ll be in need of more pointers as we muddle along


Hi ,
I worked for the University of Hertfordshire for 6 years delivering records management projects and rolling out an EDRMS.
Without support at a Pro Vice Chancellor, or Dean level it’s difficult to get the Academic community to engage with records management. My experience was that people either believed ECM was an administrative activity, and therefore didn’t fall within their respobsibility, or believed themselves to be the experts (largely the Computer Science department) and so didn’t believe they needed our help. That push downwards is essential for the Academic side of the organisation.
On the professional side this was much easier. Many areas saw the benefit and were eager to jump at it, for those less so, senior management buy in was essential.
I think it would be helpful to see the time people have waited as a opportunity, rather than a threat. People are eager for it (if a little jaded and frustrated), they understand the issues and have been waiting for a solution. That’s an opportunity for you to acknowledge the position and to engage with them. The key thing is to have the infrastructure, governance, and funding/resources to back this up! The last thing you want is to go out on a roadshow, get people excited only to discover that you still have major barriers to implementation.
I’ve always viewed records management as a two pronged sales attack. To the senior management, it’s about demonstrating cost/benefit, reduction in reputational risk, efficiencies to be gained and legislative compliance. To end users it’s about making their jobs easier: being able to find information more quickly, not having to do boring filing, having integrated systems, not having to weed files to remove DROT, not having to do manual disposal. All of those administrative activities they no longer have to do, free them up to be more proactive, to tackle all those issues they never got around to dealing with. It frees customer facing staff up to give a better student experience.
As with any organisation, I’d say that you need to find a way to tie your project into the current vision and strategic goals of the organisation. What are the current buzzwords? What are the big projects that people are excited about? When I left the University, the buzzword was “Student Experience”. This seems to be the main focus on the UK HE sector at the moment. A drive to improve the quality of the teaching, facilties and “student journey”. Tying ECM into those strategies was another helpful way to drive it out across the organisation.
If you are concerned about them disliking “uninvited change”, find a way to make it invited. Identify change champions within the organisation. Who really wants change? Who can promote it to their colleagues? Form working groups to make people feel involved. Ask them what they need help with, and then look to address those problems.
I imagine there’s a much longer discussion we could have around this, so feel free to contact me directly (I can provide contact details). I have a number of colleagues still working in ECM in the HE sector if you’d like to engage with any of them. (I’ve recently moved into local government).

Best of luck with the roadshow!

Plymouth City Council

We are in the fourth year of following our “roadmap to ECM”. I wrote a business plan to retire three legacy systems and replace it with a Univeristy ECM system. Senior management approved the five year plan. The three systems were report distribution, document management and patient records. We have completed two of the three and starting on the last report distribution. We have over 9,000 users and expect to add an additional 3,000. I just requested the second five year budget and plan hope to complete the third retirement with in the next 9 months. We have over 30 TB’s of data and are growing at over 1 TB per month. We have integrated with Bank Lock Boxes, EPIC and People Soft Campus Solutions. Shortly we will start integration with Workday and Razors edge. We have great support and departments waiting for our time to eliminate paper and automate their office systems. Our ability to implement workflow with automatic rules, redaction and retention are real incentives. We have eliminate file rooms and are working to eliminate off site document storage. The ROI in the first five years will exceeded the total ECM budget, with greater dividends going forward.

University of Miami

Wanted to let everyone know that a few of the people from this online discussion joined us on a recent AIIM on Air podcast episode to discuss these very issues about ECM in Universities. My thanks to James Balter and Graham Snow for your time and sharing some excellent info on how you’re succeeding in these efforts.
Check out the podcast in one of these places (and subscribe to the feed in iTunes): – the specific episode – you can subscribe to the channel on your iTunes app.
And if you’d like to share your story with AIIM on Air, we frequently place “part 2” of topics and discussions in other episodes. Let me know.


Hi I am excited about the podcasts. I’m still learning how to communicate the importance of planning our IM strategy. If there are more AIIM on Air podcasts like this planned I’d be keen on them. My challenge du jour is how to explain Information Governance to those in my immediate chain of command. The ECM/IG conversation is still (relatively) new on this campus. My job seems to be moving away from the technical aspects (I am a programmer) to integration/IM advising; i.e.from coding to presentations. I need all the advice I can possibly gather!

Many many thanks to you and Kevin Craine for organizing these. I learn a lot by listening as I commute.


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