7 Steps to a Successful Enterprise Information Management Program

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Seven x 300by Stephanie Faris

There are numerous definitions of Enterprise Information Management, leaving many businesses puzzling over what the term actually means. At the Enterprise Data World (EDW) 2013 Conference, Information Management Consultant Anne Marie Smith, Ph.D., and Walgreens Director of Data Governance Michael Jennings, chose the definition that most closely matches the definition used by DAMA International.

According to Jennings, Enterprise Information Management (EIM) is the, “framework of interdependent disciplines required to turn data into consistent and accurate information to be fully leveraged across the organization, by business and technology users, to improve an organization’s performance.” As Jennings pointed out, however, organizations are free to alter that definition to meet their own internal definition of the Enterprise Information Management framework.

Develop or customize an EIM framework

Each organization must first choose their own framework, custom designed for their own specific needs. Some businesses focus on unstructured data more than structured data, for instance, requiring a different framework than a business that focuses on structured data.

As Jennings pointed out, there is several challenges businesses face in developing a framework:

  • Organizational requirements: Each organization has its own unique set of organizational, political, and cultural differences. A business must look at where they currently are and what they’re hoping to achieve.
  • Level of business and executive support: In some organizations, C-level executive support may be limited, forcing data professionals to “sell” executive staff on how EIM can help the business achieve its goals.
  • Level of enterprise realization: In some companies, “enterprise” is a four-letter word. Enterprise initiatives are in short supply in these companies, creating an obstacle as a business attempts to move forward with EIM.
  • Data Management maturity level: Each business is likely in a different place in the progression toward EIM.

It’s important that businesses adopt best practices for their own unique organization. “Everyone wants enterprise until they have to pay for it,” Jennings has found.

Conduct a baseline current state assessment and cultural discovery

Knowing where to begin can be one of the biggest challenges of implementing EIM. Businesses must first put together their program scope and definition. This will be different for each organization, down to the term used to describe the initiative, whether it is Enterprise Information Management, Data Management, or some variation of one of those terms.

Many businesses are nervous about taking this step, but sometimes businesses find they are better prepared for EIM than they realized. Even among organizations that might not be as far along as others, there are pockets of capability. Those pockets can be utilized as a stepping stone toward achieving EIM goals.

A thorough assessment will identify both pockets of capability and weaknesses in an organization’s EIM readiness. The analysis should include all domains of EIM, including those already in place and those not currently represented.

Understand direction for EIM within the organization and program duration by preparing a maturity assessment and roadmap

An assessment of a business’s maturity in the EIM process will provide insight into how far along a business is in developing an EIM strategy. The sample maturity model provided as part of the workshop ranked a company on organization, project, process, and technology, assigning stages to each of these key process areas.

There are various sample stages of EIM maturity that businesses can use to determine their own current state. They are:

  • Non-existent
  • Developing
  • Planned
  • Measured
  • Enhancing

Involve key EIM stakeholders in all strategic discussions and align the program goal with strategic initiatives

In this phase, a business develops its strategy and vision. Businesses ask themselves why they are developing an EIM program. A strategy should align with a business’s overall vision and goals. If the strategy is aligned with the company’s overall vision, over time, EIM will become a permanent part of the organization.

Business stakeholders and IT stakeholders should be a part of developing this strategy. Sample questions include, “Can you identify customers consistently across business units, applications, divisions, etc.?” and “Can you measure the quality of data consistently across business units, applications, divisions, etc.?” Dr. Smith emphasized that if a business cannot answer these types of questions with confidence, that business needs an EIM vision.

Build awareness of the EIM programs on all levels – communication and socialization

It’s easy for data professionals to forget that not everyone in an organization is familiar with the concepts associated with EIM. Communicating these concepts to key players in the organization is crucial, but it is a challenge data professionals face each day. These concepts cannot be expected to be grasped in one conversation. Dr. Smith has found it is necessary to have repeated conversations about EIM on an ongoing basis to permanently improve awareness of EIM.

Dr. Smith recommends utilizing brown bag lunches, elevator pitches, road shows, presentations, and similar efforts to get the information across. Data professionals may also choose to implement print campaigns, including banners, brochures, and logos printed on coffee mugs and other materials to help increase awareness of EIM.

Gain an understanding of resource needs and prepare for education, training, and resource acquisition

Part of communicating EIM is understanding the key personnel and other resources available at an organization. Each of these groups requires different communication styles, so it falls to data professionals to learn as much as possible about each group.

Dr. Smith provided a Communication Plan Template to help data professionals determine what messages they plan to communicate and how often they hope to communicate them. What is the expected outcome of each communication? Does the project need money, or is the professional simply hoping to become a vital part of a business’s ongoing processes?

Many programs succeed or fail, in part, because of communication. By coming up with a vision or mission statement, analyzing the audience for your message, and determining your overall key points, you can more effectively communicate the important points of your program to important personnel in your organization.

Determine the standards for measuring success of the program

Businesses must know what they want to achieve from the outset so they can measure its success along the way. Measurement is an important step in managing an EIM throughout its lifetime. Two important criteria in measuring success are:

  • Business value
  • Acceptability and compliance

Many businesses emphasize one of these two criteria, but some measure against both sets of values. Each business should identify ways to measure its success. For the best gauge of a program’s success, businesses should balance strategy goals with short-term wins, with three to five long-term measurements of success for business value and fewer than ten measurements of success for accessibility, which is more short-term.

Some methods for measurement include:

  • Money: Does a program help a business save money? Is it bringing in additional cash flow?
  • Customer satisfaction: Has customer satisfaction improved as a result of implementation of a new EIM program?
  • Quality: Has the quality of a business’s data and metadata improved as a result of EIM?
  • Product or service development: Is the EIM program bringing in additional business?
  • Intellectual capital: Has the program increased the knowledge level of personnel?
  • Strategic relationships: Have any new relationships formed as a result of EIM?
  • Employee attraction and retention: Has employee turnover changed as a result of the new program?
  • Sustainability: Can the organization keep the program going over a long-term period?

One of the best ways to ensure a program’s success is through an EIM program pilot. This pilot helps implement the education and communication part of the project, while also training Data Stewards. Throughout the pilot, businesses should consistently evaluate the program throughout the pilot to determine successes and failures.


According to Dr. Smith and Mr. Jennings, implementation of a new EIM program is a multi-stage process that can take several years. But through effectively communicating across all areas of an organization, businesses can ensure a program’s success, increasing revenue and improving customer satisfaction. It is important that data professionals have the full support of management as they proceed, but because Information and Data Management is such a new field, intensive education may be required at each stage of the process.

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