Demystifying Content Integration

By Kevin Craine
Guest Blogger

There is a lot of discussion and concern about “content integration” these days – and for good reason. The amount and variety of content, systems and processes we must manage in business today is becoming ever more complicated. Simply keeping track of many moving pieces is a challenge, but making the entire environment work together seamlessly and optimally can often seem impossible. What is needed is an overarching strategic approach to integration that will guide the various activities in ways that make a difference and help reign in the complexity.

Elevate Your Perspective

One way is to elevate your perspective. Rather than focus on the technology per se, instead focus on the way that it must function in the process. Instead of fretting over all the complexities of the content, instead focus on how everything must work as a system. Ask yourself: How should everything perform together for the process to perform better? How can information be used in ways that bring increased value to the organization?  And how should the systems and processes work best for the people involved?

Documents, Technology and People

One way to demystify the process is to concentrate your efforts on three specific areas of inquiry: Documents, Technology and People. These three elements are essentially the “what, how and who” of your strategy: what documents are important, how are they produced and who cares about how they perform in the process?

Documents – Start by first determining the specific documents that are most important to your organization.  Which vital few have the most influence on the performance of your organization?  Which relate directly to core functions, important initiatives and troublesome problems?  If you could pick only a handful of target documents, which would you choose? And remember, you don’t have to re-engineer every document, only the most essential.

Technology – Computers, databases, networks, and all their associated systems and programs are the technological means by which content is created, produced and processed.  These systems can often combine into a confounding mix of hardware and software, so stop and assess: What technology is used to produce your target documents? What are your current capabilities?  What available innovation in technology might influence or improve your process?

People – The people who execute the process in your organization are the best people to describe and improve the process.  Who are the people who make up your “process constituency?” What is it that they need to improve the performance of the process? And who are the executives who care about how well they perform in the process?

Documents are created with technology to be used by people, so it makes sense that these three factors surface as guiding beacons for your integration efforts. Mapping the course of your plans with these perspectives will help direct the latitude of your activities and ensure that your design process is comprehensive, yet manageable. As a result, your integration decisions will be more pointed, practical and profitable.

Kevin Craine is the author of the book Designing a Document Strategy and host of Everyday MBA on C-Suite Radio. He was recently named the #1 ECM Influencer to follow on Twitter. For more information visit