Another Good DMSG Meeting

On Wednesday 5th September the Data Management Specialist Group (DMSG) of the BCS held very interesting seminar focussing on data management perspectives of Electronic Document Management (EDM).

Andrew Rhodes (Bentley Systems) set the scene by covering how we had got to where we are now and looked briefly to the future.  Christian Toon (Iron Mountain) looked at the risks of not having good information management in place for an organisation, and stressed that risks are more than just cyber threat. The third presentation was a case study by Wing Commander Richie Barr on how the Ministry of Defence had implemented SharePoint integrated with a Record Management System. The slides and audio will be going onto the DMSG website ( so rather than summarise what the speakers had to say I’m going to pull out what I thought the main points and issues were from both the presentations and discussion (both in the panel and networking sessions).

  • EDM isn’t just about the individual documents, its part of the workflow and information management lifecycle of an organisation.
  • As with paper documents there should be a disposal policy, things shouldn’t necessarily be kept for ever and if you are duplicating paper documents there needs to be a good reason why.
  • Organisations need to value their information, regard it as an asset and have a governance system in place. Failure to do so risks an organisations reputation and will costs it money.
  • Good information management (including EDM) is everyone’s responsibility not just the information/data manager.
  • Solutions should be driven by the business and not the IT.

The excellent case study showed how by using customised off the shelf packages EDM could be seamlessly integrated. Users uploaded to or edited documents stored in SharePoint. This was integrated with a file registry system using a template that created the metadata with users selecting other required information such as security marking from a list. The file naming convention was automatically applied if it hadn’t been followed and users were no longer saving files onto directories in a shared structure and documents could be searched for across the network.

Generally all three presentations were very positive however there were a few notes of caution:

  • Implementing a system for EDM, information governance etc requires a cultural change and senior management buy in to succeed.
  • Over customisation of a package such as SharePoint can lead to slow running and problems of upgrading
  • Putting an EDM system in place should be done speedily; taking months not years otherwise it runs the risk of failure.

One thing which I noticed (thinking back to one of my previous blog posts) was that all the speakers used the terms data and information appropriately as you might imagine for a DMSG meeting, but what was interesting was the emphasis put on information and managing the information life-cycle. Coupled with this was the need for implementation to be business and not IT driven. As a member of both CILIP and BCS I thought this was quite enlightened and indicative of the partnership that should exist between those managing technology and content. Maybe a more joined up information profession isn’t that far off after all.

As is normal with meetings at BCS the networking session which followed the formal part of the meting was lubricated with wine. There were two members of the audience as well as myself tweeting from the event using the hash tag #DMSG if your interested in reading some of the comments being made at the time.


About martininfoman

Information Manager specialising in the heritage sector and Archaeologist. This blog is about all things concerned with the curation of information about the historic environment and wider issues around IT, data, information and knowledge management. Full Member of the Institute for Archaeologists and the BCS, and a CILIP chartership candidate. All views are personal. Twitter: @MartinInfoMan
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