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Best-practice breakthrough

Business and technology publishers send me a lot of books. My office shelves are filled with them.

And, as someone who still ardently believes in the printed word, I always look forward to receiving them. When I open the package, however, I’m often discouraged simply by the titles, which can be convoluted and contrived by claiming to solve the always-vexing problems facing information managers. (Contrary to the old axiom, one can sometimes judge a book by its cover.)

Frequently, the tone of these, well, tomes is one of expounding on esoterica by the authors, who are trying to force some artificial construct onto the readers. It seems to me those sorts of books are more than a little self-indulgent and written for a select few rather than for a larger, but still savvy, readership.

And that’s why it was a treat to see an early pre-publication copy of Best Practices in Information Management from The Information Management Foundation (TIMAF). It is, quite frankly, the best collection of case studies and solutions I’ve run across and will be an invaluable resource for KMWorld readers when it’s officially released in May. The reports are solid, practical and real-world examples of how to do things right.

Deeper unity

Although TIMAF may be new to some of you, its mission is to bring order to the broad field of information management, which it describes as currently fractured and sometimes even incoherent. The organization goes on to say, “Each sub-discipline (content, document, asset, records, data management, to name just a few) has its own practitioners, applications and professional communities. We believe that behind the seeming differences between these ‘managements’ there is a deeper unity that will eventually define a strong, clear foundation for all of them. We do not believe that all managements will or should merge, but rather that just as business underlies accounting and finance, there is a common foundation behind all forms of information management that practitioners should all know.”

TIMAF is actively engaged in the development of an information management framework, which is being designed to bring the commonalities between sub-disciplines to light and help to organize the best practices published by the foundation. It’s the brainchild of Erik Hartman, president of Hartman Communicatie in The Netherlands and Bob Boiko, senior lecturer at the University of Washington Information School and president of Metatorial Services here in the United States.

A sampling

This compilation of best practices—editors include Boiko, Hartman and CMS Watch founder Tony Byrne—highlights the successful blend of theory and practice. Regular readers of KMWorld and attendees to our conference will recognize many of the authors. Without question, the collection represents some of the best independent thinking in the field, and a small sampling includes: Alan Pelz-Sharpe on how to successfully procure information management technology, Martin White on using key questions to identify the correct information management requirements, Mary Lee Kennedy and Bob Boiko on staged information integration, Ann Rockley on intelligent content strategies, Apoorv Durga on the value of standards in content technologies, and Stephanie Lemieux and Seth Earley on taxonomies and content management.

Similar initiatives have been undertaken by other groups in the past but have fallen by the wayside because the principals have lost their enthusiasm and/or motivation. I don’t believe that will happen this time, because of the caliber and commitment of the people behind TIMAF.

Keep an eye on these folks—they’re the real deal.   

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