August 2015 – February 2016
Business Case Background
Veresen, Inc. is a publicly-traded oil & gas company based in Calgary, Alberta. As with many oil & gas businesses in the region, Veresen started out as a small operation that, through a series of mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, has demonstrated exceptional aspirations and has grown to become a major player in the industry. As a result of this rapid growth, the document and records management policies, processes, standards and technologies within the organization had grown organically and were in a state of much-needed TLC from a team of experts in both user experience design and records management. Veresen came to the table requesting a fully customized electronic documents and records management solution (EDRMS) that would allow for continued growth and transformation.
Problems to be Solved
As Veresen grew organically over many years, Veresen’s leadership increasingly saw a need to better manage its wide range of information assets to both maximize the opportunities of effective information management and minimize the risk of ineffective information management. As a publicly traded company in a highly regulated industry, Veresen’s leadership knew that their current solution was not meeting the organization’s diverse needs and obligations.
Veresen’s leadership saw the value of implementing an effective records management program in order to minimize the risks that come from a legal request for information. In their existing solution, a myriad of costly problems existed – duplicate copies of the same asset, lack of version control, lack of adequate retention and disposition policies and incorrect storage locations for many assets, just to name a few. Ensuring that the organization was in full legal compliance with records management legislation was one of the top objectives of this initiative.
In addition to compliance needs, Veresen’s employees and contractors were increasingly struggling with where to store information assets in order to provide for efficient and comprehensive retrieval by themselves or someone else at a later date. As such, it was vital to ensure that a new solution was designed in consultation with the end users. A deep understanding of internal processes, policies and standards as well as working conditions and corporate culture was vital in ensuring that whatever solution was provided would align well with employees’ daily routines and increase the likelihood of positive user adoption while also providing a standardized approach to managing an information asset throughout its entire life cycle.
Solutions and Recommendations
At the time of this project, finding user-centric electronic document and records management software solution was a challenge. Ultimately, a combination of SharePoint and Collabware (https://collabware.com/) was selected to meet Veresen’s needs.
Working with a team of UX designers and SharePoint developers from Habanero Consulting Group (https://www.habaneroconsulting.com/), I worked with the information & records management team within Veresen to elicit and better understand both the business and user needs for this initiative and to initiate an iterative design process for the solution. Our first initiative was to develop a base approach to the project by identifying shared needs across all of the departments and project teams within the organization. This was then followed by deep dives into each department or project team to understand any specific needs that had not been met by the initial approach and to customize the solution as needed. The final stage of the project saw the entire project team working together to establish a plan to migrate content from the existing solution into the new SharePoint space.
Task: Corporate-Level Business and User Analysis
Deliverables: Universal Team Site Structure
Working extensively alongside the information & records management team at Veresen, I spent a great deal of time digging deep into the business operations of the organization to better understand all of the inner workings of the company. The focus of much of the analysis was on identifying information asset types, relationships between asset types, and the business processes that led to their creation and use within the organization. Through a cyclical and iterative approach, I devised a standard team site structure that would meet 95% of the individual department and project teams’ needs. This structure included generic sub-site structures with accompanying metadata and taxonomy requirements.
Individual Team/Project Site Document Library Wireframes
Task: Department/Project-Level Business and User Analysis
Deliverables: Customized Team Site Structure
Upon receiving sign-off from the Veresen leadership on the universal team site structure, I began working in a similar manner with each individual department and project team in the organization, one-by-one. Through a series of independent analysis, conversations, design workshops, and iterative design activities, I produced customized team site structures based on the universal design that fully met the needs of the department or project team. These structures included more focused sub-site structures with accompanying metadata and taxonomy requirements.
Customized Team/Project Site Mental Model Diagram
Customized Team/Project Site Homepage Wireframe
Customized Team/Project Site Document Library Wireframes
Task: Department/Project-Level Asset Migration Planning
Deliverables: Migration Plan
Once I had concluded the design stage with an individual department or team, I worked with both the information & records management team and the department or team in context to establish an information asset migration plan. The primary focus of this effort was to identify where metadata requirements were unfulfilled in the existing solution followed by the creation of a plan to fulfill the metadata requirements and move the assets from the existing solution to SharePoint.
Concurrent to this effort, the Corporate Records Manager established a records retention & disposition schedule to allow for the effective management of the information assets in the new solution.
Risk Factors and Assessment
Due to a signifacnt negative change in economic conditions, this project was only partially executed by external consultants. At the time of my departure from the project team, several departments and teams had been successfully migrated onto the SharePoint/Collabware solution and a strong foundation had been laid for the continuation of the work internally.