Len Asprey (Practical Information Management Solutions Pty Ltd., Australia) and Michael Middleton (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-055-4.ch022


Many enterprises in the commercial and business sectors are yet to address the inadequacies in their document and content management environment. Given the vital role that documents play in most business processes, the failure to implement management controls in this area is somewhat enigmatic. One might be forgiven for thinking that this failure is based on some wishful belief that the problem will disappear. However, many enterprises could not even adequately manage their documents in the “good old days,” when mostly physical documents were used to support business processes and “life was easier.” Perhaps some enterprises have the view that the new digitization of document formats will herald the long-awaited utopia of the “paperless office,” and the problem of having to “manage documents” will magically vanish. We do not think so. There may be a visualization aspect that impacts whether executives are able to discern that they may have a problem. With mismanaged physical document collections, executives have been able to see whether they had a problem, because they could observe collections of documents around offices, and notice volumes of documents waiting to be processed. However, millions of digital documents might be sitting mismanaged on network file systems, where it is difficult for executives to visualize the problem. Unless they care to browse the folder structures or arrange for scripts to detect the extent of document redundancy, inappropriate document naming and versioning, inadequate integrity constraints, and security issues, the disorder can remain hidden until a problem occurs. Then management’s response is reactive rather than proactive. Furthermore, the digitization of documents (or “putting them up on the intranet or Internet”) does not equate with management of documents. We have always mismanaged documents. Those ancestors with their tortoise shells who were mentioned in earlier chapters, may have had them taken or destroyed by rival tribes. Their preservation technology was not all that satisfactory either. So, the requirement to manage information in containers in whatever form is not some “new problem,” and it is not likely to be brought under control until it is addressed by executive management.

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