The amount of content residing in your company is growing exponentially every year. We’re talking about all the documents, emails, videos, contracts, social media and chat messages, and more.

Most of the time this content is stored in several different places: in employees’ email boxes, on the shared drives of your departments, on the hard disks of laptops and even on smartphones. The content is further duplicated on SharePoint sites, in Dropbox and other places in the cloud. Each of these multiple copies can have its own life. For instance, they could be updated independently, so you no longer know which copy is the most accurate, or most recent version.

Governance to use a content management system

Implementing a software tool such as Microsoft SharePoint – to name a successful one – is not enough. You also need to define proper rules and procedures on how to use the system: for example under what circumstances a user can create a site, manage access permissions, and so on. Otherwise, your SharePoint environment will become just as messy: although the documents will be stored centrally, you could end up with different copies on several sites or in content silos, with different access permissions.

Metadata instead of folders to enhance search

Even if you have a system and governance policy in place, you still need to structure and store the content in a uniform way. The key to this is metadata – data about the document that helps identify it in a specific context. By adding metadata instead of creating a deep folder structure, you make it easier to track and search for information. In most cases, it’s up to the end user to manually add metadata, which means it’s important to keep it simple and to limit the metadata required.

There are tools to help these manual operations, which analyse the content of a document in a specific context and automatically add relevant information about the document to the metadata.

Proper training to create risk awareness

Taking care of information important to your company is essential. Make your colleagues aware of the risks of losing a competitive advantage due to information not being managed properly or data leaks. Training on how to use documents and knowledge management software will help to avoid leaks and make everyone more risk-aware.

Five steps

So, in conclusion, you can tackle a content project in five steps:

  1. Decide where you want to start and what you want to achieve: automatically assemble dossiers for each customer, manage and follow up complaints, manage contracts, correspondence, competences, projects or risks, centrally manage your after-sales services and communicate automatically with your field service people, improve your internal communications, collect and protect your intellectual property, streamline your project work, etc.
  2. Make an inventory of all the types of content you will collect (for example meeting notes, emails, contracts, tasks, purchase orders, résumés, personal data on your employees).
  3. Select and implement the most appropriate software tool, such as Microsoft SharePoint, OpenText, Documentum, Alfresco, Knowliah and others.
  4. Provide specific and thorough training for each type of user.
  5. Start using extra tools that can automatically analyse your content and store the information in the right place with the right metadata, with little or no manual intervention.


Thierry Bosiers, Practice Director Enterprise Content Management