A blog post that I have had in the queue to write is on the need for a common language in content management. All records are content, but depending on who you talk to and your view on governance, not all content can be considered a record. Because people speak different languages in regards to these terms it can be tricky when different parties are communications about issues in the EIM landscape. I even have that problem on this blog as I sometimes bounce back and forth between the terms electronic records and electronically stored information. (One of the things on my, “if there was more time in the day” list is to create a controlled vocabulary and taxonomy for this blog because the tags need a lot of improvement).

Thankfully, because people much smarter than me have recently posted blogs on this topic I don’t have to write it. If you don’t subscribe to Big Men On Content, they are a must read. Recently they came out with a post entitled, “Understanding ECM is About Dialect” and I have excerpted part of it below:

My trick for face to face meetings is a small section of whiteboard I set aside as the “Opportunity Dialect.” On this part of the board I write word pairs that I need to remember. I am at the customer site and especially if they are not customers yet. It’s much better to fit into their language, for now, they have been discussing ECM in these terms for months or years. Changing a term now may isolate others not in the meeting today. But I always refer to my answers, to a degree, with my terms. “Yes, our product has change control numbers. I’ll try to remember to call them that be please remember I’m used to calling them version control numbers.” At the end of my meeting I make sure to take a picture of that list of words too. This way any follow up conversations also come across more clearly. I also do a similar thing with phone conversations.

The bigger point is, do not be afraid to ask questions. In fact, sometimes it’s worth asking questions like 3-year-old, “but why?” I went on my first customer visit, to one the team had been to several times. Before my topic was to be addressed there was an “issue” that needed to be resolved. I asked what that “issue” was and was told it would take too long to explain to me. I heard opposite sides of the table arguing the same side of the issue. At its core was a simple confusion of how the two sides looked at XML segments. Once we understood their segmenting, a six month tech support problem was closed by a simple conversation.

Steve Weissman writes about this same issue in his AIIM expert blog post, “Why You Need a Vocabulary Constabulary.” In the post he tells the story of a recent Florida law that inadvertently bans PC’s and smartphones. The laws original purpose was to ban slot machines and internet cafes because of suspected internet gambling activities. Due to poor language the law far surpassed its original intent leading to embarrassment for Florida lawmakers. I’d definitely encourage you to click over and give it a read.

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