CIP-idy doo daa – It’s Alive!

CIP- better than before

AIIM have announced that the CIP certification won’t be going away.

Before the Announcement

When AIIM originally (and quietly) announced the end of the AIIM Certified Information Professional (CIP) on the 11th of December 2015, there was a strong reaction.
Possibly stronger than AIIM had expected.

Here’s a small list of some of the feedback that was given:

(If I have missed any, let me know.)

If you read all those, you’ll see that most people are upset that the CIP was “deactivated”. They feel cheated, and you can see other Info Management organisations circling. There’s even discussion about setting up an alternative certification.

At the same time, there was a small number that said “didn’t really need it”, and a couple of inputs from AIIM Board members that said (more, or less) “stop crying”.

Explanation

Noticing the unrest, early on, among the CIP natives, AIIM CEO John Mancini wrote an “justification post” on the 14th of December 2015. (This was alluded to in Dan Antion’s post).

John explains gives some reasonable reasons for stopping the certification. You can more here.

Turn Around

4 days later (18 December 2016), John publishes a well-worded announcement in which he states that they will be continuing the CIP, and improving it. This really excites me … for two reasons.

  1. It means that AIIM listened to its members.
  2. They are not only reinstating it, but aligning it to the training material, and courses, that they produce.

The alignment of the CIP and the training material is absolutely brilliant and something that really needs to be done. The IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) offer the CBAP certification. This certification is based on an understanding of the BABOK (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge). All training materials exist to reinforce the/focus on the BABOK. That is, the BABOK came first, and then the certification after it. This is where there was a lack of alignment with the CIP. The training material, and the certification did not, actually, reinforce each other directly.

Post Announcement

 

Happy Ending?

I’m really keen to see how this will go. It’s been made clear that there are a lot of supporters of both CIP, and AIIM in the community. And I’m really glad that AIIM is going to be overhauling the CIP certification.

I fee, however, like I’ve been watching a TV series, where you’ve seen watching the main protagonist fighting challenges. Will he survive? Can he do it? The hero has many long-term supporters that have come to assist him, and yet, at the same time, a few of these have shown their true colors. We, the viewers know it. The main hero, however, doesn’t…

Let’s wait for the next season….

 

 

 

Some thoughts on the AIIM CIP Program

John Mancini, president and CEO of AIIM, has published a post with a few more details on why the decision was made to get rid of the CIP…

You can read more below.

Some background on integrating the CIP program into the AIIM Masters program.

Source: Some thoughts on the AIIM CIP Program

AIIM’s CIP … soon to be extinct

extinct

Since writing this post, AIIM has responded to this, and many other comments, that CIP holders (and others) made. AIIM announced that they were not abandoning the CIP certification, but were actually going to upgrade it. (You can read more here)

It’s been 4 years since I attained AIIM’s Certified Information Professional (CIP) certification. At the time it seemed like a good idea. Below is an extract from AIIM’s “CIP Examination Objectives”

The certification is dedicated too enhancing and promoting the profession of information management by providing the premier credential in the industry.

Note the word “premier“.

Exciting News

Last week, AIIM announced an exciting development. They described how they were “consolidating” their CIP and their Master designation. (You can read the announcement here). In other words, the premier credential is going to be worthless.

The CIP was something that you qualified for, after sitting a rather rigorous exam that covered a vast range of areas within Information Management. And then, because things are continuously changing, there was the requirement to re- qualify every X years, by accumulating X continual training units.

.The Master designation that they refer to is something that one can get after doing a course (in either Enterprise Content Management (ECM), Business Process Management (BPM), or Electronic Records Management (ERM)) , pass an exam, write a case study. and that’s it. No further “keeping up-to-date”

… there is a difference in a training institute’s “certificates” and an industry “certification.”

Kevin Parker (Information Management Consultant & AIIM Trainer)

I’ve been a big supporter of AIIM. I was even an “ambassador”. I’ve written several blog posts about them, and was one of their “expert bloggers”. I saw value in the CIP. It created a “standard” (I wrote about this in an earlier post), so I was disappointed to see that it was, essentially, being killed off.

I don’t feel that the “Master” designation is quite the same as the CIP, but then, it appears that the CIP certification was not quite as popular as AIIM had anticipated. Apparently over the 4 years there were only 1000 Certified Information Professionals.

So why didn’t it work?

Lack of Interest

I can only really speak from my own perspective here. Jesse Wilkins has tried to give some explanations to the angry mob of CIP holders that gathered at his doorstep (and by “doorstep” I mean “on Twitter”), and it seems to boil down to “a lack of interest”.

it seems to boil down to “a lack of interest”

When the CIP appeared on the landscape I saw it as a great way of defining what I knew (with regards the field of Information Management), as well as creating a roadmap of other areas that I needed to explore to become a well-rounded Information Professional. (In an earlier post I referred to it as an Island). I found the idea of continual learning valuable. It was something that I did anyway, but now it was something that was being recognised.

The other professional institutions (PMI, IIBA) have done it. Their certifications are internationally recognised (and career definning), but even those started out with just a handful of certification holders.

Value

So now that the CIP is gone. I ask “was it really necessary”. The fact that there wasn’t a great uptake shows that, maybe, it wasn’t. Information Professionals have carried on being Information Professionals, and companies have carried on hiring them based on their experience and knowledge.

Having CIP certification wasn’t really a deal-breaker. Back in 2012, before I embraced the CIP, I asked whether it would be JAC (Just Another Certification). The reason that I decided that it wasn’t was because of the reasons I described above.

A lack of a framework

Look at the PMI (Project Management Institute) certification, or the IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) certification. They are standards for professionals working in those fields. And having the certification does make a difference.

And these certifications are based on a BOK (Body of knowledge) that provides a framework for the way these professional perform. That’s what helped the certification to be seen as something professional. And that was something that the CIP lacked.

So what now?

That’s the question that I’m trying to answer. Some have even suggested that AIIM has no more value. I’m curious what you think? Does AIIM really make a difference?

My Earlier CIP posts

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Social Obligation” – The Trouble with Gamification

What follows is one of my post that was recently published on AIIM’s site as an “Expert Blogger”. (The original can be read here)

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“Social Obligation” – The Trouble with Gamification

“Social”, in an “inside-the-firewall” perspective, is often related to sharing information, sharing knowledge, as well as creating a greater degree of transparency. This includes, often, having a personal profile, filled with your skills and work-experiences, along with, maybe, something about your personal interests, etc. This is all so that others can see who knows what and can make contact with you if they feel that you know more about something than they do.

I am a great advocate of transparency…why not “advertise” what you know? Others can benefit from it. That’s great thing about Social – it offers a great opportunity to learn from others while at the same time allowing others to learn from you.

Also having the ability to, electronically, shout out loud, (to no-one in particular), “I have a problem with xyz. Can anyone help me?”, and then get a response from an answer from a colleague, who is not necessarily located in the same office/building/country, is valuable. Everyone helping everyone else.

Take this one step further, and introduce some “gamification”. Let people earn points, or badges depending on their involvement in helping resolve problems, or on how other people grade the persons work (documents, or whitepapers, that they have edited, stored in a content management system). Then we let “the people” decide the value the individuals bring to the table.

To further encourage these individuals, provide a Leader board that is available for everyone to see. This way it is obvious to all who the “rock star of the month” is, and provides a way to drive others to contribute, to earn those points, and raise their status.

It sounds like an excellent way to get involvement and as a way of sharing knowledge.

But what happens when you have those people who are just as smart as all the “rock stars”, who have oodles of knowledge and experience, and who do their job extremely well, but are just not the outgoing type. They’d much rather operate away from the glare of the spotlights.

Should these people be “judged” in comparison to the more “I am my Ego” types? Should these people feel awkward or even embarrassed because they are listed as number 437 on the Leader board? It is not similar to the adolescent way teenagers would be judged whether they are “Cool”, or not depending on their popularity.

Even the ability, in many systems, to “Like” specific content can be used for “evil”. On the one hand, it allows you to use it as a way of “bookmarking” (for yourself) content you found valuable. On the other hand, if it’s made public that a particular piece of content is very much “Liked”, what does that say about the other material (and the authors) present?

Really “Gamification” should not have a place inside the firewall.

I know that it has existed years before it was even called “gamification” (in the form of the ‘employee of the month’ or similar internal processes in place), but what is the real value in creating an artificial source of motivation? Shouldn’t the motivation be a real one?

As I mentioned, I think that being transparent is a great way of sharing knowledge. And knowledge sharing is a great way to learn. It’s when that sharing of knowledge is compulsory, in an aggressive, chest-beating kind-of-a-way, is what I disagree with.

IT needs to be less “T” and more “B”

What follows is one of my post that was recently published on AIIM’s site as an “Expert Blogger”. (The original can be read here)

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IT needs to be less “T” and more “B”

There is a “feeling” in the world of the Information Professional at the moment that there is too much focus on the “T” in IT. That is, the IT department focuses too much on “technology”.  Usually at the expense of what the customer – in most cases the business users – really need.

Sure, the IT department is necessary to install and maintain the technical infrastructure that is necessary to allow a business to run, but then it must not forget that it is there to serve two masters – one is the executive layer who make the decisions regarding the purchasing of the necessary infrastructure (and pay the salary of those working in the IT department), and the other, which is the user of the technology. This is because it is the users of the technology that actually add value to the business.

The business users are the ones that carry out the activities that let the business achieve what it has to to exist. And anything that disrupts this process, or hinders it from being as efficient as it can be, is actually undesirable. This can include such things as the unnecessary installation of “new features”, to applications that don’t really fit with the activity that the business user carries out,

And this is why we have to start focusing less on the “T” (Technology) in IT. I’m not saying that the “T” is not important, but the “B” (“Business”) is also important. There needs to be more focus on the communication with the business. And not just “talking”, but actually more “listening”. And most importantly: “understanding”.

Understanding not only what the business is trying to do, but also how the business user carries out their tasks is incredibly valuable. Understand the business processes, and then configuring the technology in the best way to not only to meet what the business’ objective is, but also to take into account the way the user performs their tasks.

This leads to a more productive environment where the users feel that they are “involved” with the solution put into place, rather than feeling that the IT department has imposed the some cool, but not entirely useful, software solution on them.

We still need IT people who understand the “T”, but it’s the IT people who also understand the “B” and then can translate the “T” into something useful are the ones that are the most valuable.

Why I Hate IT…

What follows is one of my post that was recently published on AIIM’s site as an “Expert Blogger”. (The original can be read here)

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 Why I Hate IT…

I hate IT, I hate IT, I hate IT. In fact, I cringe every time I hear IT. 

What am I talking about? I’m talking about the acronym “I.T.” IT stands for Information Technology. But I guess you already knew that.

And why do I hate it? I never used to, but as the years have passed, I’ve started having an aversion to the term.

I used to be one, you know. An IT’er. And was proud of the fact. I used to imagine the office girls swooning as I walked past with my box of disks, and, maybe a large manual on the intricacies of printers (or similar). That was in the early days. 

Then I got a job where they wanted to call me an “Application Specialist”. An “Application Specialist”! Can you imagine?! That was a title for someone who wasn’t really an IT’er. They might as well have asked me to dress in frilly pink. 

But – OK – it was a job, and, most of the time, I was…begrudgingly…an ”Application Specialist”, but whenever I got a chance – I was “IT Guy”! I was in charge of the network! With a mere wave of my hand I could enable (or disable) functionality. I was the one who could implement new bizarre network policies (for the good of mankind, naturally), and it was I who held the power to apply patches, and fixes, whenever I deemed it necessary. (Bwahahaa)

Fast forward a couple of years, and I have a new position.  I’m now actually working “with” the business users. I have to “listen”, and then provide a suitable solution. If something needs changing I need to seek their permission, to “justify” it. I can’t just go making changes because I “think” that the changes are “cool”, or will “help” the users. They are the “actual” owners of the system. I am just a custodian. 

I didn’t give this any thought, but then, one day, after I had been working with a different department, doing requirements gathering, and helping “them” solve their issues, I overheard someone say “Mark is our favourite IT person”. And I cringed.

You see – I no longer consider myself involved with the “Technology”. I now saw myself as a generalist that “understood” technology, but also understood the business users, as well as the business processes, and was able to “use” technology in a way that was relevant.

And, while I was working through the preparatory material for the CIP examination, it dawned on me – there was nothing on the “technology”. There was only material on how to use the technology. 

So, after a long-winded explanation, I hope you understand, now, why I hate IT.

Promise #9 – The CMIS Survey Blog Post

Refer14 Unfulfilled Promises

Background

In the post titled “Latest CMIS survey from Generis”, I promised to write a blog post over a Survey Generis had done on the adoption of CMIS.

Verdict

Promise Partly Fulfilled

I followed this promise up. The post was originally published on the AIIM site.
(I will need to publish a copy of this on my own blog.

The Inaugural Conference of the Swiss ARMA Chapter

Promise #1 – The value of a Content Management system

Refer: 14 Unfulfilled Promises

Background

In my post “The value of a content management system” I described how the US Air Force Medical Service had added an E2.0 interface to their content management system, and finished the post by trying to find out if I could republish some of the material from the article.

Delivering on the Promise

Instead of republishing excerpts from the post, I have included a link to the post, so that you can read it yourself:

Social Network Enlightenment Found in the U.S. Air Force Medical Service

Re-categorizing

As I have mentioned in earlier posts (see below for a list), I like the way that AIIM’s Certified Information Professional certification captures the broad knowledge and skills that an Information Professional needs to have.

If you look at AIIM’s page on the CIP, you’ll see that everything has been grouped into “Knowledge Domains“.

I’ve decided, (in a loose fashion), to use these “Knowledge domains” as categories for my posts. I will make them sub-categories under a “parent” category of “Information management“. (I’ve highlighted the ones that I am going to start using straight away.)

I’ll go through my posts (226 so far!) and re-categorize where appropriate.

You’ll can see the categories either in the top navigation menu (running across the page), or in the Categories drop down menu that can be viewed at the side of the page (when you click “Home”, or at the bottom of the page (when viewing each post individually.)

Return to…CIP Land

What follows is one of my post that was recently published on AIIM’s site as an “Expert Blogger”. (The original can be read here)

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Return to…CIP Land

In my last post I talked about that recently discovered, and charted, land called “CIP Land“.

When I originally started writing that post, I had a vision of an island where each knowledge domain” represented a part of the island, which further contained representations of the “sub-domains”.

And, that’s when I drew the “map” that can be seen in that last post.

However, after I had written the post I realized that this “CIP land” was not an island.

An island, by definition, is not a continuous landmass, and is surrounded by water. With an island, there is no connection with other islands or, for that matter, with other countries (especially if you looked at the map I drew). It is separate from everything else.

This was very, very wrong.

The whole idea of an Information Professional, as defined by the CIP certification is, (and as Jesse Wilkins described it in his post “Are you T-shaped?“), someone who has a good, broad, knowledge of the different territories (knowledge domains), someone who has travelled the highways of the land, and knows enough to be able to get around each territory without the use of GPS, or SatNav.

They know enough about the customs of each territory, city, or village that they can communicate and interact, easily, with the locals of each area. If they need more in-depth local knowledge, they can hire a guide, but they have enough knowledge that they can see how each city, town, or village, interacts with the others.

They can see the “big picture”.

But the whole idea behind this, is that CIP Land is isolated.

And this is wrong, because CIP land is not isolated. It makes up part of a “global” environment. It interacts with other “lands”.

Think of it as a landlocked country in a continent made up of multiple countries (Europe for example). It takes advantages of its local talent, and specialized knowledge, but it interacts with the other countries. It requires them for services, and resources, that it doesn’t have. Just as the other countries, in turn, require the local skills and resources that it can provide.

So, from this, you can see that “CIP Land” is not an island. It’s a country. A country Political Map of Austria - Map of Austria, Europesurrounded by other countries.

Information Management can’t exist without databases, without networks, without hard drives, or storage areas. Hell, if CIP Land was an island, my friend, we wouldn’t exist for long.

Clearly my map of “CIP Island” needs to be redrawn…

CIP Land

What follows is one of my posts that was recently published on AIIM’s site as an “Expert Blogger”. (The original can be read here)

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The CIP Land

I’ve been working my way through the excellent CIP exam preparatory videos on the AIIM site. (These were prepared by Steve Weissman, and the Holly Group, and are very impressive.)

As I went from one “Knowledge Domain” to another I started realizing what it is that I like about the CIP. It’s that it creates a boundary.

What do I mean by this?

Well – think of your “Information Professional” as someone living in a village. A village called “Content Management”. They do their job, and do it well. They’re not aware of the fact that beyond their own village lies a whole world. Then the person travels. Maybe they have to visit another area for their work, or they see people from other areas visiting, and decide to go exploring. In any case, they get to see new sights, or learn new things. The world, for them, however, is still uncharted.

I have lived in this land, and I also only knew of only a few areas. Gradually, however I have travelled and seen new things.

At one point I started actively seeking out other residents. We all seemed to talk a common language, but each person had their own “regional” vernacular, or way of saying things. Each had their own experience and knowledge based on the areas where they were living. We learnt from each other.

The land we lived on was still uncharted. It had no boundary, or borders. No-one knew where it started or stopped, or what places made up the land.

The CIP however, defines what knowledge an Information Professional should have. It creates a map of that land. And it appears that it is an island in a sea of other similar islands. All interacting together.

Looking at the map, I have come to realize that this collection of experiences and knowledge that I have from my many trips through different areas all fits into a big picture.

And that is what I like about the CIP. I now can look at it, and get an idea of the various places that make up this world.

I know which areas I need to revisit, or spend more time in, to give myself a more rounded set of knowledge and skills to be able to call myself an Information Professional.

How should a “Perfect” Search project be run?

What follows is a post that I recently published on AIIM’s site as an “Expert Blogger”. (The original can be read here)

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How should a “Perfect” Search project be run?

It was Friday evening, and Charlie was meeting his friends for a drink. They all worked in IT and had, between them, years of experience, especially in the area of enterprises and enterprise search, and liked to get together to catch up with what each was doing.

After a few pints and small talk, Charlie said “Guys, what do you all reckon would be the best way to construct a large-scale enterprise search project?”

Martin, who had had quite a lot of experience in this area, looked up and said “The main thing is that you shouldn’t underestimate what is required to get the best from a search investment.”

Charlie nodded in agreement. “But how can we help the client understand what sort of a commitment is needed?”

Ken suggested using an Agile/Scrum approach for the analysis of what the client needed as well as the development of the search UI.

“Hear hear” called out the others. Otis took the chance to follow that up with “you need someone who really understands what search is all about”. Martin glanced at him, and nodded. Otis carried on. “Someone who cares about search metrics, and knows what changes need to be made to improve them.”

Jan chimed in “I agree with you on some points. You‘ve got to make sure that you include all the stakeholders, and also educate the customer. Get everyone in the same room, and start with a big picture, narrowing it down to what is actually required. And, yes, create demo’s of the search system using “real data”. It helps the customer understand the solution better.” “However,” he continued. “I’m still careful about forcing a Scrum approach on a customer that might be unfamiliar with it.”

Stephanus put down his glass. “I’ve just finished a Phase I implementation at a client. The critical thing is to make sure you is that you set the client’s expectations and get buy-in from their technical people. Especially in security and surfacing. And I agree with Jan. There are still a lot of companies that don’t use Agile, or Scrum, at the moment.”

Sitting next to Stephanus was Helge. He began to speak. “There are a few important things. Make sure you’ve got Ambassadors – people who really care, and promote, the project. And ask the important question – ‘How can the search solution support the business so that they can become more competitive?’ It might be necessary to tackle this department by department. Get the business users and content owners together, but as Stephanus just said, don’t forget IT. And also make sure that the governance of the system is considered.

Stephanus smiled. “Yes – the workshop idea is a definite must.”

Gaston, who was sitting next to Charlie, said “An Agile approach has worked for me in the past. Creating prototypes is important. Most clients don’t know what they want until they see something tangible.” “Ok” said Charlie, “how has that worked?”

Gaston continued “Build a small team consisting of  a UI designer, a developer, a search engineer, someone from the IA team, and no more than two of the business users. Having someone there from QA is also handy. Start with a couple of couple of day long workshops to go over project objectives, scoping and requirements gathering. Use one week sprints, and then aim to produce workable prototypes. At the end of the week, schedule a time where the prototype can be demo’d. The point is to get feedback about what is working, and what the goal for the next sprint should be.

Mike, the last one in the group, looked around at everyone, and then back at Charlie, and said. “Charlie – there’s a lot of great advice here. One important thing to remember is that you have to work with the client to ensure that the search solution is part of the strategy. As the others have already mentioned, work with the client and educate them. Getting all the stakeholders together for some common education, collaboration and planning can really go a long ways towards getting the necessary buy-in and commitment needed for a successful project. It also is great for setting expectations and making sure everyone is on the same page.”

Charlie was impressed. He had some pretty smart friends. “Thanks guys. You’ve all had some excellent points. Let me buy you all another round”.

The above “conversation” was all based on a discussion in LinkedIn. (Click here to read it).
Many thanks to the contributors in that discussion who graciously allowed me to write this post:

Latest CMIS survey from Generis

Last year I wrote a blog post titled “CMIS – what are the adoption plans for 2011?” in which I discussed a survey that Generis had done on CMIS adoption.

James Kelleher, the CEO and owner of Generis, has sent me an the latest version of the survey. I plan to write a blog post over this soon.

 

 

Why giving the users what they want is not enough – the Importance of communication

What follows is a post that I published on AIIM’s site as an “Expert Blogger”. (The original can be read here)

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Why giving the users what they want is not enough – the Importance of communication

As you are all most likely aware, giving the users what they want is not the right thing. Why? Because, often, the users don’t know really what they want.

Consider the following example:

A large restaurant chain has restaurants across the globe. Each restaurant needs to maintain documentation such as construction plans of each restaurant, recipes, procedures, and methodologies, etc. The “critical” documents are kept in a legacy ECM system and several SharePoint doclibs store the non-critical documents. These systems are located centrally, and are all globally accessible.

The business users work primarily with the legacy ECM system, but often also need to work with the documents in SharePoint. When a document was needed, a search was either done in SharePoint, or in the legacy system, using its rather complicated search feature.

Performing searches in two different places wasn’t easy, or efficient. And so, the users cried out “Give us a one central place where we can perform a search” When asked for more details they business users replied “Make it like Google”.

The restaurant’s IT-people (who might have been a little too enthusiastic) swung into action, without anymore questions. They found a tool that would allow SharePoint to “talk” with the legacy ECM system and crawl all the documents, indexing everything it could.

After working many weeks getting things set up, and configured, the IT-people sat and watched as SharePoint crawled through the content. Once finished, initial tests were done to ensure that a search action would actually return content. It was working perfectly. And it was “just like Google”.

A demonstration of the Search system was given to the users, who were ecstatic. They were able to easily enter search terms, and get results from the SharePoint, doclibs as well as the legacy system’s repositories. It was fantastic. It was easy to use, and there was no extensive training required. There was much cheering and showering the IT-people with small gifts. After further testing, the search facility was officially moved into production.

For the first couple of month the users were keen to use the “enterprise search facility”. But then, gradually, complaints started being heard. “The search results contained too many hits”, “Why wasn’t it more like the search feature in the legacy system?”, or “the search results were just showing the title of the document.” Users went back to using the legacy system’s search feature for the “important” documents, and the SharePoint search was just used for the documents in the document libraries. Namely, the “central” search facility was a failure.

What had gone wrong here? The business users wanted a single search facility, and they wanted it “like Google”. And that’s what the IT department had delivered – there was a single box where users could type in words they wanted find. And the search would return documents from all the different document repositories.

In this case, however, the users didn’t really know what they wanted. Yes, they wanted “easy”, but they also wanted something that allowed granular searches to be done (just like their “old” search tool). They also wanted to know where the search results came from. And they wanted the “important” documents to appear at the top of the search results.

The IT team should have asked more, and then they should have listened more. And then they should have repeated this process. Until it was understood what the Business really needed.  The team had followed a Waterfall approach, where requirements were asked up front, and then were not allowed to change. Agile programming techniques could have been used where a “finished’ product is shown to the users several times during the project. The users could give feedback which would lead to a better understanding of what they want, as well as the ability to refine the solution.

Fortunately, the IT team had the opportunity to improve the search system. They did add a small button to the search result screen, where users could provide immediate feedback. Working with this, as well as sending out regular “satisfaction” questionnaires, the IT team was able to identify areas of improvement. These include not only changes that were required on the user interface, and results screen, but it also allowed the IT team to see where further refinements were needed in the indexing process. Every four months, the improvements were presented to the business, and then implemented.

Now, the business users don’t use anything else.


I think I underestimated what AIIM’s “Certified Information Professional” is

Recently Laurence Hart wrote a blog post about the new AIIM “Certified Information Professional” certification.

In response to this I made a comment  that I needed to be convinced that the CIP wouldn’t be just another of the many certifications that are available. (I refereed to it as JACJust Another Certification)

Laurence posted a second blog post where he discussed, further, the type of content that he encountered in the exam. This assuaged some of my concerns, but also prompted me to do something that I should have actually done in the beginning, and that is, read the CIP information that AIIM has on its site! If I had I would have seen that a lot of thought, and work, had been put into it.

As Laurence pointed out, the exam is not an easy one. I looked at the sample exam that is available, and got nervous just looking at that. The real exam has 100 questions, and is not the sort of thing that you can just do while sitting in the comfort of your own chair, while flicking back and forth between the exam, and Google. No, for this, you need to go to a Prometric test centre. The guys there are professionals, and you can expect to be under video surveillance while you do the exam.

When AIIM were putting the whole “certification” thing together, they went and asked the industry, what “stuff” was actually important to know. This was all scribbled down in a large notebook, and then scrutinized by subject matter experts. The SME’s then created the monster known as the CIP exam. Very broad, but also very deep in each of the various areas. Fortunately AIIM have made a large number of “preparatory” videos available.

AIIM also recognize that the industry is not a static thing. Technology changes, business processes change, ways of working change. As a result, if you pass the exam, it’s only valid for three years. After that, it’s necessary to either re-sit the exam, or to prove that you have attained a necessary level of continuing education credits ((in this case, 45). And what does that mean? Initially, this was something else that bothered me. “Hey, my company just paid $500 for an on-line training course. It was easy – didn’t have to do anything, and voila, I’m recertified.” No – earning continued education credits is not so easy. You earn credits by attending conferences, formal university-level courses, chapter meetings, giving presentations. And you don’t earn that many credits for each of these items. Even if you re-sat the exam after three years, AIIM will be continuously updating it reflect changes in the industry, so you can’t just “use the same answers as last time”. (For more details, check out the AIIM CIP Certification Maintenance Form)

This is what really impressed me. In the Netherlands, medical doctors need to keep up a certain level of training. Each course or conference they attend delivers them a certain number of points. To stay registered they need to attain a certain level each year. (It is most likely the same in other countries, it’s just my wife’s a doctor, and I get to hear about this all the time.) I realize that there is a world of difference between a Certified Information Professional, and a Medical Doctor, but this one factor drove home to me how serious AIIM’s CIP certification is.

Based on what I have read, I’m putting the CIP high on my list of goals for this year.
(And, even though I’ve been working in the industry now for over 13 years, I’m not going to do the exam “cold” as Laurence did. I’ll be making damn good use of those training videos.)

Relevant links:

Note – currently many of the AIIM CIP sites are unavailable. This is because AIIM is working on a new version of the CIP. (For more information,  check out the following posts)

Different Systems and Different Silos – A Real-life Disaster

What follows is a post that was recently published on AIIM’s site as an “Expert Blogger”. (The original can be read here)

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Different Systems and Different Silos – A Real-life Disaster

Discussions had been going on for months. Plans had been drawn up. Even though the main tasks had been itemized, there was agreement that these would still have to be refined further into the project.

Nothing had been done to assign owners to the tasks, but there was a mutual agreement that whoever could, would work on each task as they saw appropriate.

In any case, the goal, and the timeline, was clear. There was no disagreement there.

Over the weeks, considerable time and resources were committed to working through the various items that made up the project task list, and the necessary information was diligently recorded, and documented.

Progress was regularly reported to the various parties involved. This was done verbally. It involved the person who took ownership of the task describing what had been done, along with what else had to be done, and any impediments that they had encountered. If they felt it was necessary the task “owner” could describe a plan of action to overcome the impediment. The other parties involved could ask for more information, or give suggestions.

Communication was informal, but each party were confident that they were apprised of task activities, and that they knew the status of the project.

Then, one day, everyone involved, got together to “walk through” the progress of the project. This involved visiting the various locations where the tasks were done. It was, essentially, an internal, informal “audit”, and a complete day was scheduled. As is necessary for such an event, all “distractions” were removed. Everyone was asked to turn off their mobile phones, Blackberries, or similar handheld devices. An extended dinner was planned. Everyone had been working hard, and this would allow them to relax, and discuss the results of the audit, as well as talk about whether the project goal was still valid, or whether it needed to be modified.

The walk through of the first task went well. The recorded information was double-checked (obviously by someone other than the task “owner”). Everything looked good. Everyone was happy. The walk-through of the second task (identifying potential candidates for future sub-tasks) also went well.

But then, major issues were starting to appear. And these were not to do with the actual data, or even with the tasks themselves.

It turned out that each party had used their own system for recording information. This meant that the data, although present, was stored in two different systems. And in each case, the data had been recorded in a way that “suited” the person entering it. This meant that there was no “common” structure, and different metadata. And there was no way to simply “merge”, or import, the data from one to the other.

Further to this, because there was no real management of the tasks (as mentioned, it was a very informal process), it turned out that there was a duplication of activities. It appeared that some of the “unassigned” tasks, had been worked on by one party without knowing that others were also working on them. Result – a duplication of data. And, with the data recorded in two disparate systems.

To fix the “problem” would involve deciding which system would be the “master” system, and then manually entering all the data, from the unwanted system, into it. It was going to be a big job, and there was a lot of tension. The elaborate dinner that was planned was called off.

At this point, I turned to my wife, and suggested that the next time we were going to move house we need to make sure that we write everything down on the same notepad, instead of each of us having our own…

Based on true-life events.


Is True Enterprise Search actually possible?

What follows is the first post that I published on AIIM’s site as an “Expert Blogger”. (The original can be read here)

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The idea of “Enterprise Search” is an attractive one. It certainly would be its weight in gold to have a single search location where key words can be entered, and within a fraction of a  nanocentury[1], results would be displayed that include both structured, and unstructured, content from across the numerous repositories, silos, systems, archives, file shares, cabinets, clouds, etc, etc.

But is true Enterprise Search really possible? I know there are several tools that provide “Enterprise Search” functionality, but these usually allow you to search over a fixed number of different repositories, usually containing similar data. Maybe it’s a set of defined documents, or a database, or similar. You certainly get the opportunity to make available content from disparate sources, but can you consider that “enterprise”.

If you consider what’s involved to search across the “Enterprise”, it should be quite easy, right?

Well…consider this:

1. First off, you need to be able to identify where your structured, and unstructured, data and content is. Remember, here we are dealing with the complete enterprise, so don’t forget that this includes files shares, hard drives, database system, ERP systems, ECM systems, etc, etc. And what happens if new “sources” are added?

2. Next, you need to know what sort of content you have. Can the Enterprise Search application “read”, or parse, the data/content you have? There certainly are ways to make it possible to do this. You can install an ifilter, for example. But, you’ll need one for every format that you have in your enterprise.

3. You need a way that your Search application can connect to all of the different “sources”. In principle this is, again, possible. (However, I would imagine that this would require a lot of configuration).

4. How frequently is your data, and content, changing? For example, in an ECM system, is the content constantly being changed (as new documents are added). Maybe several major and minor versions are kept of each document. Do you need to index all versions, or only the latest? What about data in your ERP system? How accurate do you want your search results to be? Do you just keep continuously indexing?

5. Security. Do you want users to be able to see results of data, or content, that, if they had used the native application, they do not have rights to? If there are disparate security systems in place, how do you translate ACLs from them into a common format? Do you use “early binding”, or “late-binding”?  

As you can see, it’s not that simple.

Until we have a way to be able to “capture” all information from an undefined number of sources, with an undefined number of data, and file, formats, with disparate sets of ACLs, I return to my opening question: “Is True Enterprise Search actually possible?”

What are your thoughts on this?


[1] A nanocentury is approximately 3.155 seconds

AIIM with Pie

If you have not already heard, Laurence Hart has a new job. He’s the new CIO at AIIM.

So, what does this mean? What value will he bring to AIIM? To answer that, we really need to understand what kind of a person Laurence Hart is.

I’ve never met Laurence. I don’t really know him, but I have a certain impression of him. An impression that has been built up over the years since I first got involved with Documentum.

I discovered his blog “Word of Pie” back in 2007, when I had just moved from working with FileNet to a world of Documentum.

Pie’s writings seemed to be honest, and to the point. He didn’t write about how “great” this product was, or how “fantastic” that company was. He never sounded like he had drunk the Kool-Aid.

Laurence wasn’t afraid to discuss a company’s warts. He wasn’t nasty. He just said it like it was.  And I found that valuable. (In fact, his blog was was inspired me to start my own blog (along with Andrew Chapman’s ). However he is also the reason that I put off actually starting one, for so long. (He set a very high standard.)

Obviously I was not the only one who thought that Laurence wrote some good shit. As well as having, what must be, thousands of readers, in 2008, he was the victim of plagiarism.

I think that AIIM will benefit a lot from the addition of Laurence to their staff. (Also with addition of Cheryl McKinnon.)

I think that Laurence’s honest, and critical, way of looking at things will be interesting in an organization such as AIIM.

As I mentioned I don’t really know Laurence personally. (I screwed up a chance to meet him at a Nuxeo conference in Paris, last year, and, heck … I don’t even know the “Pie” story)

There are many, many other people who know Laurence better than I do. If you have a different perspective, or can add something to what I’ve said, please, please feel free to make a comment..