ECM at Anglian Water: Taking a look back

Posted by Leadent Solutions on March 12, 2014

At just over two years working for Anglian Water on their Enterprise Content Management (ECM) programme, we have been integral to the success and achievements of the programme, and are proud of our contribution. But what lessons can other organisations take from this project? What are the standout aspects of the programme’s success? Which lessons will resonate with other organisations? And what will we take with us to the next project or engagement?

First, a bit about the programme and what was involved.
Anglian Water held large volumes of data and documentation that were often duplicated, difficult to find and stored in disconnected silos. They also managed and presented internal communications and corporate information and documentation through an old intranet system that staff found difficult to use and to find what they were looking for, sometimes resulting in decisions being made based on old or missing data. There were also separate stores of asset, site and operational data that were key to maintaining their business. All in all a disjointed combination of information and systems.

There were three technical (software) components to the programme. Anglian Water wanted to;

  • gain better control of their corporate information and documentation using OpenText Content Server,
  • have key information clearly and simply presented through an upgraded presentation portal (intranet – SharePoint 2010) that allows staff to quickly locate information and documents aligned to business processes, and,
  • linking structured and unstructured information by associating documentation with key master data sets of asset, site, framework and employee data (held in SAP).

So, how did we help them to achieve this?

Anglian Water set a vision for the programme that was used consistently and throughout to help build supportive and aligned stakeholder relationships, communicate the purpose more widely to the business, and underpin key messages about what Anglian Water was aiming to achieve.

Business processes
The key to enhancing the visibility and accessibility of important corporate information was to design the presentation layer with simplified business processes in mind. And in conjunction with this, the unstructured data (i.e. documents) required some associated rigour. This was achieved by the design of a logical taxonomy and metadata.

Document migration
Getting hold of (only) the important documents to migrate to ECM (OpenText Content Server) from the disparate silos – and then deleting the old copies from file shares (!) – was a significant task not to be underestimated and required the use of 3rd party specialist tools. The programme had to support the business wherever possible and ‘take the hit’ with migrating the most important documents. But, once the key documents were migrated and aligned to the business processes, the improved accessibility to those key documents was there for all to see.

Cultural change
There was a recognition that was the system changes being delivered to people at Anglian Water were ‘not difficult, just a bit different’, and that it was important to maintain focus on business adoption through a mix of improved functionality (that would make things easier), and information governance (through establishing processes and policies to mandate the effective management of key documentation). The cultural change was a significant task and could not be lead solely by the programme team. It had to be a case of ‘for the business and by the business’. Crucial to this was the establishment of a network of Champions and a defined information governance that had a consideration of longevity and the ‘business as usual’ state in mind rather than just day one of the programme’s implementation.

Whilst nothing beats face-to-face sessions and tailored training, the programme, nor Anglian Water as a whole, were sufficiently resourced to deliver that level of business change to all. As such the programme utilised some key tools as part of the business change activities. The most notable was commissioning the production of a short video to introduce, explain and promote the changes being delivered to Anglian Water. This proved very valuable time and time again when played at stakeholder meetings, workshops, departmental meetings, and training sessions. It also enabled the Champions network to disseminate the key messages across the business more easily. In addition, short e-learning/screen capture training modules and laminated two page hand outs were produced to guide people through the basics of using the systems. And as the next best thing to face-to-face, MS Lync was used to share screens with people based in other offices and talk through specific questions over the phone.

Open and honest communication
A distinct effort was made to ensure that all communications about the programme were open, honest and transparent. Even if something went wrong or there was a slight delay we ensured that the business were informed and knew what was being done to resolve it and by when. We also made use of a variety of communication channels but only used those which were most appropriate for specific messages. Openness and honesty was a theme that flowed throughout the programme and helped us to build a collaborative ethos and an effective team comprising; Anglian Water staff, Leadent Solutions, external contractors, software vendors and 3rd party suppliers.

Inject some fun
And finally, one extra thing that made the programme such a pleasant environment to work in was an element of ‘fun’. Whether that be the ‘fact of the day’ at the weekly team meeting, the regular glut of cakes, doughnuts and chocolates shared in the office, the occasional nights out including trips to the dry ski slope, greyhound racing, or the mock team awards at the completion of major milestones and of course the Christmas Panto!.