ILTA>ON: Experience management gone horribly wrong (and how to avoid that)

The knowledge management track on day two of ILTA>ON saw Lynn Oser, founder of LKO Information Management Consulting, discuss some of the most common mistakes people make when dealing with experience management and experience projects, and share some valuable tips on how to avoid those mistakes.

One of the first and most common errors made is what Oser describes as a ‘data disaster’ which can undermine the fundamental credibility of the system. Here it is suggested that you ask yourself some questions regarding your data to establish if, and how much work needs to be done to avoid a data disaster moving forward. These questions include an analysis of your systems taxonomy: how well is this organised, are there gaps or duplications? To avoid a data disaster, Oser emphasises the importance of data maintenance, stating that it is key to have someone responsible for auditing data to avoid gaps. However, it is equally as important to minimise the amount of data that you are maintaining: trying to keep various systems in sync may be difficult and lead to mistakes and inconsistencies.

Oser uses the example of industry codes: if you are maintaining your own list of industry codes, what happens when the firm adds a new industry code, will you be notified and able to maintain that list with accurate data?

Oser suggests that if you are just getting started in an experience project then this is the place to start, carrying out a review of your taxonomy, removing redundancies, fixing data and ensuring data matched across both your and the source systems.

The next stage is to identify the areas in which you have errors, asking questions about the reasons behind poor data production, could it be a training issue for example?

If you have already encountered a ‘data disaster’, you should take steps to isolate the point at which your data is losing credibility. This is an issue which Oser suggests should not be tackled alone and advises working alongside whichever area is responsible for that data, e.g. HR or marketing. You may need outside help to accomplish this, however you should not be afraid to tackle poor data as it will be fundamental in developing your experience management capabilities.

Another common trap which many fall into is profile and field overload. Often, we create systems that are too complicated to use. These systems have too many individual silos which we cannot search easily across, meaning we have to enter each one individually, extract the relevant data and aggregate it together, something that a well-constructed system should be able to do for us. To avoid this, it is important that we combine fields where possible.

Moving onto the human side of an experience project, Oser suggests that departmental blunders in selecting technology can result in a non-collaborative approach on a larger scale. When carrying out a project, focusing on your department and your immediate needs may lead you to choose the right tools for you but not for the firm. This lack of understanding of what the firm needs more widely will often result in a limited buy-in, and undermine progress. To avoid this, working together is key: keep in mind the various stakeholders and draft some firm-wide objectives.

Tools can also present an issue elsewhere, in the form of single purpose tools. Often money is spent on a tool that fixes one particular problem, while this may not present an immediate issue, over time it may result in having many point solutions which do not work together. When dealing with an experience project, you should solve it from more than one pain point.

A good way to avoid this trap is to use integrated solutions, these bring the data together for us, whereas point solutions only solve for one issue at a time. Point solutions mean that the inability of tools to work together must be overcome through human effort, as opposed to a system which can integrate and avoid this completely. Oser suggests letting your decision regarding systems be driven by a multidisciplinary approach, considering varying needs to evaluate your requirements. A good tool system will also grow alongside your firm and allow you to stay on it for a period of time.

“Don’t be afraid to think it can be done better, tools are continually evolving and often upgrading to a better system, even if initially expensive, will repay in the long run, especially if chosen correctly,” Oser said.