• Bringing Digital Transformation to the Information Governance

    infogov16Next week I’ll be representing Dominion Consulting at the 3rd annual Information Governance Conference (InfoGovCon) in Providence, Rhode Island on October 12 and 13. I have attended the previous conferences, and as with the annual AIIM conference, simply sharing ideas and stories with the other attendees is worth the trip. This year I have an additional reason for attending, I am delivering the closing keynote on the first day.

    I am pretty excited about this opportunity. When the Information Coalition, the organizers, contacted me about speaking. I was very excited. I spoke the first year at InfoGovCon and was interested in delivering a follow-up talk. Delivering the follow-up as a keynote is an unexpected honor.


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  • Content Analytics at the AIIM 2016 Conference

    When in New Orleans, this is one of the healthier options

    I attended the annual AIIM Conference recently in New Orleans. As expected, it was a great event with a lot of interesting presentations. I spent a lot of time talking to people, learning what they were doing, how they were achieving success, and hearing about what wasn’t working. I may also have had a beignet or two.

    My chief interest was content analytics. There has been a lot of buzz in the industry regarding this capability and I wanted to learn how real it was among practitioners. It seems like a simple concept; Take the classification technology from eDiscovery tools and apply it at the front end of the business process. Instead of reacting, become proactive in analyzing and acting upon content.

    I learned that it is going to take some pioneers to make this a reality.


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  • Leveraging Open Source and the Cloud for Your Open ECM Platforms

    We’ve been talking about how to leverage open APIs to connect content-centric solutions together. The goal is to leverage the success from deploying point solutions without creating the numerous silos that typically accompany that approach.

    The question that arises is what kind of platform providers are incented to create and maintain open APIs? Any vendor can claim to have an open API. Unless supporting those APIs long-term is core to their business model, those APIs may vanish or become closed in the future. While any enterprise content management (ECM) vendor may have open APIs, open source and software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendors are the ones whose business depends on open APIs.

    The Open Source Advantage

    Open source software (OSS) is a natural tool in creating open ECM ecosystems. Being open is core to who they are, making their APIs open by default. Documented and supported APIs are very useful, but when the code is open source, a new level of capability can be taken leveraged.


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  • The Open ECM Platform

    There has been talk of creating enterprise content management (ECM) platforms for years. They typically do not live up to the hype or expectations. The upfront investment typically required dooms most projects before they deploy their first business solution. It has reached the point where if an organization wants to implement ECM I typically walk away if I cannot persuade them otherwise.

    That doesn’t mean that the need for ECM platforms don’t exist. Given the ever increasing creation of content today, it is even more important to be able to rapidly solve content-centric problems without creating numerous content silos. What is needed is an alternate approach to gaining the benefits of an ECM platform without forcing a big-bang approach to ECM with its large upfront investment.

    The answer is to pick an ECM system the same way an organization picks a database system. Choose based upon the system’s ability to scale and meet the needs of the organization. An open API (application programming interface) allows the exposure of content services that can be used to add content capabilities to other applications and to build new solutions. Being open allows an organization to move forward without worrying information being bound to that system forever.


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  • IBC Heading to AIIM 2016

    A beignet & coffee

    This is almost enough reason to go to New Orleans by itself. Photo by Jed Carr

    In two weeks, IBC will be attending the annual AIIM Conference in New Orleans. I’ll be attending along with Jed Carr to check to see what the latest is in content management and information governance. While the city of New Orleans with its unique food and culture (beignets!) would seem like enough of a reason to attend, there are many more important reasons.


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  • Stop the Closed Content Silos

    It starts simply enough. Your company needs a system for managing its contracts process. The finance department goes out and purchases a contracts system. Being forward thinking, they pick one that is cloud-based so they don’t have to maintain the infrastructure. Things are going well until…

    • The ability to track supporting documents from within the system is identified shortly after launch
    • After finance loads supporting documents, those documents are now stored in multiple locations
    • Nobody knows which version is the current version any longer
    • Groups outside of finance need access to the contracts but licenses are limited
    • Contracts need to be linked to their CRM and ERP records but nobody can figure out how

    The contracts process may be working well but information is trapped in a system that is closed-off from the rest of the organization. The only way to have information everywhere it is needed is to duplicate it which leads to complications in managing information.

    This is a common problem in organizations. Whether it is contracts, FOIA processing, investigations, or team collaboration, there are a multiple systems containing content and information needed by other business processes. The existence of shared information conflicts with the reality that many processes are best solved with different solutions.


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  • #HowToCompete – Know Your Customer!

    Do you know your customer?

    I mean, do you really know your customer?

    You know who your customer is, you hopefully know the mission that they serve, and you might even know that the head of their company likes to play tennis every weekend. But, and I’ll ask again, do you actually know your customer? As a newly large company, your efforts to grow engagements organically as the Prime contractor, getting to really know your customer, and understand their stories, is of utmost importance.

    Every customer has a story, and more specifically, every program has a story. The story is likely more in depth than “we need project management support on an upgrade of a financial management system.” Sure, that may be a part of the story, but it is not the entire story. Why does your customer want to upgrade their financial management system? Why does this matter, and how can we use it to our advantage?


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  • The Importance of Scaling – Part 3 of 3: External Partners and Communication

    (This is part three of a three part series of articles examining the importance of scaling all aspects of your growing business. Part one and two can be found here: The Importance of Scaling – Part 1 of 3The Importance of Scaling – Part 2 of 3: People and Culture)

    External Partners

    Beyond just the people within your four walls, organizations that scale effectively know how and when to leverage partners. Even if your company has gotten to this point without much outside assistance, that doesn’t mean you need to or should complete your journey alone.

    There is tremendous value in tapping the experience and advice from others who have been there before you. Even the biggest companies started out small and had to scale up at some point. Reaching out and learning from those who have already ‘been there, done that’, can save you countless time, money, and effort by entirely avoiding an issue altogether. In her article “5 Things You Must Do to Scale Your Company”, Marla Tabaka illustrates the value of establishing key advisory networks. “When you get into groups and are around mentors and advisors you can address the issues you are facing with people who have experienced a similar set of problems; you sill see things in a different light.” It often takes someone removed from your situation to give a fresh perspective that you were unable to have given your embedded position. Even though you might compete with someone in the future, you will see companies generally want to share success with others, and a different perspective is invaluable.


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  • The Importance of Scaling – Part 2 of 3: People and Culture

    (This is part two of a three part series of articles examining the importance of scaling all aspects of your growing business. Part one and three can be found here: The Importance of Scaling – Part 1 of 3The Importance of Scaling – Part 3 of 3: External Partners and Communication)


    The people that make up your company are at the heart of every initiative, often ultimately responsible for determining its success or failure. When a company grows and looks to scale its operations, having the right talent focused on building for the long term is critical. A shared sense of purpose amongst employees to grow the company is certainly one aspect to the equation, but the other aspect is having the right people capable of executing that growth. Adding professionals with the necessary experience, background, and relationships/networks can immediately provide a boost to the company’s strategic positioning that may have not been possible without those resources.

    At IBC, we pride ourselves on the team we’ve assembled and our ability to find, hire, and keep great people. We provide our employees with incentives to recruit colleagues and associates they believe are a good fit for our culture. This has helped us onboard high-quality individuals who know who we are, what work that we do, and where our company values are. With this talent, we have been able to formalize individualized roles that previously, as a small company, were often done by committee or based on individual resource availability. This has minimized duplication of effort, empowered our leaders with the authority to make decisions quickly, and has ensured we have the capacity to respond to multiple activities in parallel. Finally, we encourage and provide opportunities to our more junior resources to get involved in all aspects of our company, so that they can to become key drivers of our future success and growth.

    In the back office, you must also carefully consider the impacts to your internal and back office operations and the willingness to bolster those capabilities with non-billable resources to support the volume and size of your new pipeline. This might include contract specialists, proposal writers, financial support, and business development professionals.


    While directly tied to the people that make up your company, your company culture is a key aspect of your organization and its ability to scale successfully. In addition to defining how your company operates, it identifies the behaviors that your organization values and reinforces, establishes the model for what your company will look like, and drives how your company grows and expands, both internally within the company and externally in the marketplace.

    When your company scales, it is critical to ensure your culture remains in tact. Your culture is often what attract your talent to your company in the first place. In his article “How to turn a small business into a bigger one” [3], Conrad Bates amplifies this point stating, “A strong company culture built upon respect and honesty will also keep those same people happy and secure throughout the often changing period of growth.”

    At IBC, an accelerator to our growth came as a result of a merger that we went through in 2013. It brought two entities with different skills sets together, but shared the same sense of purpose, passion, and commitment to serving our clients, while placing significant value on keeping IBC a special place to work. We focus on getting our teams together for regular informal meetings, networking and recruiting events, community service functions, brown bags, and happy hours. This time spent together outside of the typical workday plays a critical role in building a true team-oriented environment and culture that is increasingly difficult to find. Having a shared vision of what is important to each of your employees is a major priority in establishing the trust, admiration, and camaraderie required to propel your organization to grow and prosper.

    When you organization loses its culture, it loses part of its identity, which is often the tie that binds your team together. If those things that distinguished your organization and made it a special place to work are lost, employees can feel as though they are lost too, can get lost as well, which will likely result in a hit to morale or worse, employee churn. Don’t let scaling take your company’s culture away. Its one of the few things that is yours and only yours, so make it a priority to keep it in tact.

    Again, we invite others to join this #HowToCompete discussion and share your own ideas and experiences. We’d love to hear about the role that scaling has played in how your company competes.

    Join the #HowToCompete discussion:

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    [3] http://www.brw.com.au/p/business/mid-market/how_to_turn_small_business_into_QvnrXkckt9SYeaoPmAoGVL

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  • The Importance of Scaling – Part 1 of 3

    (This is part one of a three part series of articles examining the importance of scaling all aspects of your growing business. Part two and three can be found here: The Importance of Scaling – Part 2 of 3: People and Culture, The Importance of Scaling – Part 3 of 3: External Partners and Communication)

    While many organizations experience success and growth quickly, few are able to sustain it over time. Immediate success brings new and different challenges: shift in the competitive landscape; increased back-office responsibilities; aggressive business development capture requirements; increased focus on profitability. Small businesses previously accustomed to filling smaller-scale, specialty roles as a supporting teammate, now find themselves leading large-scale pursuits and opportunities that require significant organizational change. You must redefine your value in your company’s new role, shifting attention to areas you may have previously relied on large teammates to provide and ramping up internal operations to support these larger efforts.

    Ultimately, the ability to compete, hinges on your ability to scale the core aspects of your business to meet these new demands. In this three part series on Scaling, we consider a number of contributing factors to success at scale, starting first with Planning and Focus.


    If there is one universal component to successfully scaling a business, it may very well be planning. Without proper planning and preparation, no business will scale successfully. In their “How To Scale Your Small Business” article [1], @SinglePlatform accurately speaks to this point further, “Scaling your business is all about thinking ahead…while part of your brain needs to focus on the short-term strategic and tactical needs for your business, the larger part should be thinking about the long game”. As your company grows, engaging in those strategic planning and visioning sessions that help define the roadmap for where you want your organization to be takes on additional importance and criticality.

    At IBC, our planning efforts spanned all aspects of our business including: enhancing and refining our back-office roles and responsibilities; internal systems modernization; developing our strategic plan for business development and organic growth. We also recognized the need to handle the increased level of administrative and financial activity that accompanied our larger programs and efforts. As a result, we planned for and implemented a number of enhancements to our supporting tools and infrastructure to automate and streamline key processes around resource management, opportunity tracking, and financial management and compliance. Finally, we executed a series of planning sessions to refine our service offerings and reinforce our go to market strategy. These planning efforts improved our ability to effectively respond to opportunities and operations challenges as they arose.

    Ultimately, if you don’t dedicate time to adequately plan for your growth, your company runs the risk of shrinking back down to size.


    As your organization continues to grow, it is extremely important not to lose focus on what you did that got you to this point to begin with. Companies can make the mistake of hastily expanding the services they bring to the marketplace, in an ill attempt to keep pace with the competitors offering those same services. This can detract from the core capabilities of the business, adversely affecting the areas that have historically provided the lion’s share of the company’s success.

    In “How to Prepare your Business to Graduate from the 8a Program” [2], @caronbeesley takes this even further and advises companies to narrow their focus with growth. Speaking specifically to government contracting, she suggests, “You can’t take on the whole government. Identify specific agencies, sub-agencies or departments. If you’ve already done business with a certain agency, look for ways to repeat that success.” Again, doing what you did that got you here and doing it the best you can is what will most likely lead to your continued success.

    At IBC we purposely narrowed our service offerings into 3 primary solution areas and refined our focus around 5 core vertical markets to allow us to organize and prioritize where our time and effort is spent. This eliminated a number of non-value and unnecessary cycles for our teams, and allowed us to concentrate our efforts in those solution areas we best support and where our customers needed us most.   As a result, It allowed us to build stronger client relationships, allowing a level of specialization that would have otherwise been unattainable.

    Not only will you find that having a more strategic focus will allow your company to avoid fruitless pursuits that will stretch your resources too thin, it also prioritizes your organization’s core competencies, which will allow you to continue to delight your customers while further distinguishing you from your competition.


    Dealing with the changes resulting from your organizations growth and success is certainly a good problem to have. Your ability to scale your company successfully will hinge on all of the above factors, although certainly these are just some from a list of many. What other considerations should be taken when your company scales? We invite you to join our discussion and share your ideas, thoughts, and strategies.

    Join the #HowToCompete discussion:

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    [1] http://www.singleplatform.com/2014/06/02/scale-small-business/

    [2] https://www.sba.gov/blogs/how-prepare-your-business-graduate-8a-program

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