The Growing Scope of Records Management in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Here's an bylined article I worte that was submitted last week:

Records management is hardly new to the pharmaceutical industry. But what is new is the breadth of records that must now be kept, the increasing proportion of electronic records (especially e-mail), and the impact of additional, new regulations from beyond the life sciences sphere (e.g. Sarbanes-Oxley). These changes have in turn created awareness of records management in a larger audience within companies, but a number of recent survey have found considerable confusion and uncertainty about the subject. An overview of the subject may be of use at this time.

What is a record? Very simply, a record is the final output of a business, managerial or administrative transaction. It is important to emphasize the word ‘final’ as it places records management in the context of information lifecycle. Take for example a standard operating procedure (SOP); we understand that in creation a SOP would have gone through a typical lifecycle from initial authoring, review and amendment, approval and then release. The released SOP, which is the form that is actually used in the business to guide actions, is the final form and therefore the record. Earlier draft versions are not records, and indeed in many companies procedures are established to ensure that drafts are destroyed, along with any supporting information such a comments made during review.

In the case of electronic documents, the initial lifecycle would likely have been managed by an electronic document management system that tracked different versions, the status of those versions, managed a defined workflow and controlled user access at each stage. Typically though, most document management systems were initially designed to address the needs of document creation through to approval, release and distribution, but they do not provide tools to further manage final documents as records.

So what is records management and what tools do we need to support a good records management program? Records management is a process for the systematic management of all records and the information or data that they contain. A records management program provides for the regular review and controlled retention or destruction of records, and aims to ensure that records are kept as long as necessary and then destroyed as required or allowed by regulations and statutes. In the SOP example, if it is a manufacturing record under FDA oversight then it will need to be retained in accordance with 21 CFR Part 210-211, and if it is an electronic record it must also be managed according to 21 CFR Part 11.

When records management software programs were first created, they were typically electronic tracking systems that helped to manage paper records. They enabled managers to track where a record was – typically in a specific file, in a given box, on a shelf, in a specific storage facility. They also provided disposition management, notifying a manager when it was time review a given record for possible destruction.

As electronic records grew in prominence, records management software was extended to manage both physical as well as electronic records. However, it is not always easy to determine if a given record is electronic or paper. Since typewriters are now almost extinct, practically every paper document is created using a word processor and so exist in electronic form first, before being printed. If the document requires signing before it is in final form (and therefore a record) and if the signature is applied in ink form to paper, then it is a paper record. Very often though, a paper record with ink signature is scanned into an electronic system for long term maintenance, becoming purely electronic again. It is necessary with such ‘hybrid’ systems to clearly define which form is the ‘official’ record and to confirm that its retention management meets all regulatory requirements.

Hybrid paper/electronic system are always problematic, and indeed in the history of the FDA’s 21 CFR Part 11 regulations, there were a series of guidance documents intended to bring clarity to the issue of what constitutes an electronic record – but these were subsequently withdrawn as they were seen as too onerous.

It is inevitable that eventually purely electronic systems, with no paper intermediate or final forms, will come to dominate. For this to be achieved though, there must be no business processes that require a paper form of a record, which is more difficult than it might at first seem. For example, under 21 CFR Part 11, an electronic signature applied to a document in a closed system is basically a metadata record in the system’s audit trail of a signing event. However, if it is necessary to exchange a document with another company or regulator that cannot access the system where the signature information is kept, then the electronic signature cannot be confidently validated. This fact has contributed to a delay in wide adoption of electronic signatures. Advances in joint industry-regulator efforts to develop standards for digital signatures, such as SAFE, are enabling purely electronic records to be exchanged and validated beyond a given company’s system. The important distinction is that signature information is contained within the digitally-signed document and remains with it, rather than in the system that contained in when it was signed. However, even digital signatures depend on external systems for validation, which can create problems in maintaining the verifiability of signatures in records that must be maintained for decades.

On the technology side, we have also seen a convergence of document management and records management software – most records management vendors have been acquired by document management vendors and their products integrated into software platforms that are now more often described as enterprise content management systems (ECM). ECM systems are also incorporating archiving technologies such as computer output to laser disc (COLD) or microfiche (COM), document imaging and digital asset management (DAM) for complex images and videos. This means that the full lifecycle of electronic documents, other electronic files and resulting records can now be managed in one system, which can also manage legacy paper records.

Another benefit of emerging ECM systems is e-mail archiving. In the past e-mail was seldom considered to contain important corporate records, but this has changed significantly, both because of broadened regulatory controls as well as the changing ways in which e-mail systems are employed by company staff.

In its early days e-mail was a simple communication medium with limited text. Then it became possible to attach documents to e-mails, but usually this was just a way to exchange copies of official records. Now however, e-mail applications like Microsoft Outlook are tightly integrated with word-processing applications. As e-mail increasingly supports more phases of document lifecycle, it is quite possible that a an e-mail may contain an official record. For example, a fully reviewed document may be e-mailed to a manager for signing – the first instance of the signed document may then be in a return e-mail. Another example of an official record in e-mail form is a simple text e-mail, with no document attachment, from a manager or executive which is an authorization for a business action.

At the moment in most companies, document management and e-mail systems are only weakly coupled, so it is hard to find where an official record is. Staff often assume that a given record is in a document management system, but that is not always the case, or it may not be the official record, as we have seen. Strictly controlled procedures are generally used to address this issue, but technological approaches to identify identical documents in different repositories (e.g. document management and e-mail systems) are beginning to be deployed, and importantly, the capture of content from across different systems into a single archive, where records management can be applied, is now emerging in integrated ECM systems.

In records management systems records follow a simple lifecycle path. Records are identified as to type and state. When first tracked records are usually in a ‘current’ state – that is they are the latest, effective version of a record. At some point however, a review process will identify that a record should move to a non-current state, for example if a more recent version is created. Subsequently a second review will determine if a record is to be archived or destroyed. The review process is greatly simplified if criteria can be applied to identify the type of record, and if there are standard retention periods pre-assigned to each record type. Developing a list of all record types and the policies associated with them can be a daunting task.

Record retention periods can vary from a few months, to years or even decades, and the period is often defined by legislation or regulations. Financial records are typically required to be maintained for seven years, whereas pharmaceutical product records may have to be maintained for a period of years after the final sale of a drug which may be expected to be in the market for many decades. Since records may be required to be provided in support of activities such as legal proceedings, regulatory review or defense of intellectual property, records management systems allow ‘holds’ to be applied to records to override the normal advance of a record according to predefined lifecycle rules. Only when all holds have been removed can a record resume its normal lifecycle.

The breadth of reasons why records must be managed has increased dramatically. These include regulatory requirements for pharmaceutical products, patient privacy, health and safety, environmental protection, contractual regulations, corporate governance, data protection, defense of inventorship, patents, copyright, trademarks, etc. The range of file types that are considered records has also dramatically increased, but without doubt, the largest category is e-mail.

Pharmaceutical companies are finding they must apply a records management strategy to all of their e-mails. Traditionally companies had general policies whereby all e-mails were disposed of after a period such as 90 days, unless a staff member made a deliberate disposition decision. However, given the distribution list of many e-mails, in practice a significant portion e-mails were saved by at least one employee, often by copying them to their local computer, making a CD, floppy disk or USB stick copy, or even printing them out. Once opposing counsels in legal proceedings determined that there was a good chance that a copy of an e-mail still existed somewhere in a company, even after the defined destruction periods, they started to demand detailed searches, which of course are extremely expensive. Recently I was told by and IT staffer at a major pharmaceutical company that his company spent $10 million searching for and retrieving such e-mails in one case alone!

A few years ago companies were only concerned with backing up e-mails for disaster recovery. Then in a number of highly publicized cases it was discovered that backup tapes containing e-mails had been kept after the designated destruction period. Companies implemented procedures to destroy backup tapes, but now they are being required to recognize that a certain portion of e-mails are in fact corporate records that must be retained for defined, and often long, periods of time. Given the huge volume of e-mails, it is technically impractical to keep all e-mails. Therefore systems are being established which classify e-mails and automatically apply retention policies based on the record type. In other words records management is being applied to e-mail.

In summary, whereas records management was once a back office activity of limited visibility, it has moved up significantly on corporate agendas as companies struggle to comply with a broad range of regulatory, legislative and other requirements. Supporting technologies for records management and archiving are now integrated in an emerging class of enterprise content management applications in a manner that promises to enable the management of records in any format, wherever they are, and by whatever method they were exchanged. However, the shear volume of records, especially coming from e-mail exchange, promises to make comprehensive records management programs extremely challenging, and necessitate the application of risk-benefit analysis to optimize program efficiencies.


A blog like application: phpMyFAQ - open source FAQ system

A colleague recommended Dropload as an internet tool to exchange large files. When I clicked on the FAQ for the Dropload site a new window opened up which looked very much like a blog, with a reverse ordered, dated listing, as well as listings of the most recent 5 questions and the 10 most popular. At first I thought it was an innovative use of Blogging software until I noticed that it was powered by phpMyFAQ – which turns out to be an open source FAQ system related to php. Interesting.

phpMyFAQ - open source FAQ system for PHP and MySQL | welcome


Blog censorship survey - What it says about blog 'penetration'

CNET News had this interesting item today about a survey by web hosting company Hostaway. What I found most interesting was the information about blogs; namely these excerpts:

"However, more than one-third of respondents had never heard of blogs before participating in the survey, and only around 30 percent of participants had actually visited a blog themselves"

And this from people who are presumably somewhat web-savy. It is clearly 'early days' for blogs, and expectations as to their benefits in terms of corporate blogs must be tempered. Of course it also makes you wonder what the situation will look like one and five years from now.

Blog censorship gains support | CNET News.com


To Blog Corporately Or Not??

(Warning: This posting has lots of visible hyperlinks - I did that on purpose since syntax is important to this disucssion).

I’ve been looking a corporate blogs because my employer, Open Text, is considering sponsoring a blogging activity. What I’ve found is that there is quite bit written about corporate or business blogs, but in fact there are not as many corporate blogs as you might expect (using Google as the arbiter for that determination with “corporate blogs” and “business blogs” as search terms).

You can categorize corporate blogs in different ways. For example, is the corporate blog a showcase for senior management, or even just the CEO? A good example would be the GM blog, which highlights mostly Bob Lutz, Vice-Chairman and styling guru. Posts occur every few days and they generate a couple of dozen comments (or more) and a few trackbacks – not bad, but not as much as you might expect for the world’s largest (for the moment at least) automobile maker. Interestingly the site has a “GM Blogs” icon on the right, but I couldn’t see any pointer to them from Fastlane. Noticing that the URL was http://fastlane.gmblogs.com, I tried http://www.fastlane.com and sure enough got a complete listing of the two GM blogs (i.e. there was one other on small block V8s)…
GM: http://fastlane.gmblogs.com/

A far worse example in the same sector is Ford website; they used to be number two so they tried harder, now they’ve slipped so I guess they don’t try as hard… The site name would appear to suggest that this is a Ford blog, but when you go there, its just a blog for the Mustang, and guess what (?), it hasn’t been updated since August last year (!) – they should be embarrassed..
Ford: http://blog.ford.com/

The other kind of blogs are employee-managed blogs; Sun is a really good example (http://blog.sun.com/roller/main.do).

I found these further sub-categorized in a blog posting (http://www.cmomagazine.com/read/030105/blog_future.html):

1. One group of these blogs is tied directly to existing Sun products
2. A second category of employee blogging is not about current products but, among other things, the R&D paths under way at Sun
3. Many of the rest of the employee blogs are on subjects of general interest—albeit to a technical audience

When you got there the site aggregates all of the recent postings, and a blogroll lists them individually. I like it. Posting is restricted to current employees of Sun, but of course it is publicly viewable. There is a ‘Terms of Use’ policy displayed on the site: http://www.sun.com/share/text/termsofuse.html

Much has been written about how employee corporate blogs put a human face on an organization. I particularly liked the comment by Ruud here: http://www.cre8asiteforums.com/viewtopic.php?t=22556; namely:

“The project blogs of MS make pretty good reading. You get to know MS from a different side - although you also have to realize they don't represent company policy.

With company blogs I'm not really interested in dialogue. I want an inside view. A human view. A non-marketing blog. Feedback and conversations about the company's products belong in a forum: much better suited for that purpose than the comment section of a blog.

As for tone... Microsoft is starting to get it. Yahoo isn't doing bad. Google is painfully awful. The best one however has to be Ask's Ask Jeeves Blog. Their latest entry is titled "Confessions of a Backyard Orchardist", written by one of their web developers. And when is the last time you heard a senior VP talk in this voice?!”

This conforms with some of my other investigations of example technology Corporate Blogs:
Google: http://www.google.com/googleblog/
Ask Jeeves: http://blog.ask.com/
Microsoft: http://blogs.msdn.com/

Interestingly, Webmail.us: http://www.webmail.us/company-blogs has both kinds of blogs, one for their CEO and a collection from the team (i.e. employee blogs).

Monster is another company with corporate blogs, but they also host a discussion on their website about their blogs.
Blog: http://monster.typepad.com/
Discussion about their Blog: http://discussion.monster.com/articles/aboutblog/

“Integrated richness”, I’m inclined to call it, and definitely the future in my mind. Too often blogs hang out of context of other web content and strategies.

You might think that each of these technology companies would write their own software, or at least host the site themselves using commercially licensed or open source software; but this is not always the case. Note how the Monster site is hosted by TypePad. Another example is eBay (now there’s a company that could host if they wanted to!).
eBay: http://ebaydeveloper.typepad.com/

In a similar vein, consider that when Microsoft decided to support corporate blogs, long after employees started their own blogs on other sites, they decided to host it on MSDN – the Microsoft Development Network. Are blogs really only for geeks? Does MS get it yet?

In looking what else was hosted by Type Pad I founds the CEO Bloggers’ Club: http://prplanet.typepad.com/ceobloggers/. Several dozen CEOs who blog regularly.

Similarly, there is a listing of European Corporate Blogs at another site:

So to review, there are senior management blogs and there are employee blogs; some companies host their own and some use dedicated blog provider sites. Integration with other web content is just beginning, but should grow, and in my opinion will be very beneficial to companies at least. In other posts I’ve also noted that all of the standard rules about getting your website noticed and elevated in rankings apply to weblogs as well. At this point hardly anyone reads my blog here, but I don’t care because I’m using it as a notepad/commentary for myself. But you’d better believe that if Open Text sponsors one or more blog activities it will expect a return on investment (ROI).

So do corporate blogs provide benefit? I found an interesting set of quotations on metrics on the Big Blog Company site in an article by Jackie Danicki here: http://bigblogcompany.net/archives/000469.html. This comment towards the end of the post is particularly telling:

“Not every company needs a blog, but every company needs the support of a network. Some companies make the mistake of thinking that their node is strong enough to circumvent or even topple the network - just think back to AOL's 'walled garden' delusions only a few years ago. They thought that their content could supplant or compete with the entire internet.”

I think there is a spectrum. A classic corporate website is a marketing tool – everything is about the company and its products in the most favorable light. A corporate weblog attached to that is in the form of blogs.mycompany.com or www.mycompany.com/blogs, or if an outside company hosts something like mycompany.typepad.com. The site puts a human face on the corporation, especially if the blogs are by staff. This encourages user participation, but certainly doesn’t ensure it.

It is also a competitive intelligence challenge – I think that deserves a whole other posting as another topic.

At the other end of the spectrum would be personal blogs that have no agenda other than that set by the posters.

There is a middle ground though; here’s an example: Open Text sells software that falls into the category of Enterprise Content Management (ECM). This is an emerging category that is in turn maturing – there is considerable vendor consolidation underway. A new market category needs explaining. Accordingly, our CEO wrote first one, but soon to be three, books on the topic (http://www.opentext.com/corporate/ecm-book.html?ref=othome).

It/they have been very successful. Now the other large, specialty vendors in this space all have ‘ECM’ explained on their sites:

Open Text:
• From a link saying “The market leader in providing Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions. Find out more.>”

• From a button saying “What is Enterprise Content Management (ECM)?”

• From a “Defining ECM” link: http://www.filenet.com/English/Defining_ECM/index.asp

• From a “Enterprise Content Management Solutions” link:

We might host a blog on ECM. We could do this on our website, or we could broaden the conversation on a dedicated site open to more than just our employees. And that is an important point: the classic corporate blogs are for staff only (e.g. see Sun’s policy as noted above).

If we’d like to invite others a dedicated ECM site that supports blogs makes more sense. Will others participate? Maybe, if we make the site open and clearly describe that policy of openness, and of course stick to it. Would we accept a blog from an Documentum employee – we’d better or the site looses its validity. Would a Documentum employee want to post (?); well that remains to be seen…

Perhaps, first we could expect others interested in ECM to participate, whether by posting or just monitoring. This might include users of other ECM products as they exchange best practices around ECM in general. It might also include consultants and industry analysts. We’ll see… Is there a need to describe ECM in other forums than corporate web sites (ours or our competitors) – I think so.

A final point. Would having two sites be twice as much work? Not necessarily. First, we have to remember that it is easy to cross-post to more than one weblog at once. One wouldn’t always do this, but quite often one might. Also, two sites can have different but complementary objectives, working synergistically.

Making IT (Information Technology) Work

Here's an article I recently wrote on strategies for successful implementation of software in the pharmaceutical industry that will be published in a print magazine soon; meanwhile here it is:-

If a system does not benefit you and your colleagues, it will fail

Here’s a typical scenario. A software vendor is coming in to demonstrate its particular product. Staff members either volunteer or are ‘volunteered’ to come and hear the pitch, but they could probably write the script for the first 10 minutes themselves. An earnest sale representative starts to introduce his/her company: “We are the leading vendor of software that will make you more efficient, will save you money, get you to market faster and make sure you comply to the FDA’s regulations.” The audience smiles with fixed smiles and pretend to pay attention – they’ve heard it all before.

After a while, the presentation moves to the demonstration phase, probably given by a sales engineer who really knows the product. At that point the audience divides between those who try to follow along and those who have more information than they want.

In the end, pharmaceutical companies will buy some of the software that they see. Attempts will be made to use most of what they buy, but not all systems will ever be rolled out, and many of those systems that are will meet considerable user resistance, leading to deployment failure.

You could almost say that software and information technology are over-hyped and doomed to fail, but in fact, the right systems for the right purposes can be indispensable. I used a word processor to author this article and I’ll use e-mail to submit it; but I’m old enough to remember the time before such things existed. Things we really use become ‘part of the furniture.’

Just like drugs, most software candidates will fail, but the few successful, ‘blockbuster deployments’ will support everything else. So the problem is very similar: can we predict the blockbuster IT implementations, or at least make better decisions earlier to optimize our chances of success? Yes. In fact, IT project managers have developed some standard approaches to improving the chances of deployment success. Looking at such approaches as a potential end user on the business side, what contributions are going to be asked of you, and more importantly, can you have a role influencing future success while minimizing unproductive use of your time?

Success Criteria
We need to distinguish between software for single individuals working largely alone, departmental software for groups of people and enterprise software that is intended for most or all of an organization. If you are the end user of a single-user system, you are best able to determine if it is going to benefit you. But group software assessment is much harder – approximately in proportion to the number and types of users.

As I’ve described, software vendors usually talk about operational efficiency benefits, which is a message that appeals to management. In fact, experience has shown that end users of group systems are far more concerned about whether a given piece of software makes their job easier, than the overall benefits to their company. If it doesn’t make their jobs easier, they will usually resist efforts to implement it, which means that neither management nor staff will achieve the purported benefits. The more different users from different departments there are, the greater the challenge to successful deployment.

IT project managers are told to make sure that a proposed product will meet the needs of business users – that it will solve a critical business problem – that’s why software vendors now describe their products as solutions to problems rather than extolling the technology.

Validation Pains
Software used in the pharmaceutical industry must be validated if it is applied in critical applications that might put patient health or business continuity at risk. Readers may well be familiar with this approach either as quality managers or as they have seen it is used for control systems, but now it is applied more broadly to include most critical business software. The aim of validation is to ensure that the software and associated systems perform as required and that risks are identified and mitigated.

A first step in validation is to collect and document user requirements to produce a user requirement specification (URS). IT project managers will solicit your input. This information is incredibly important and is used as a basis to select software vendors and products in the early stages and ultimately to test the performance of the implemented system (performance qualification; PQ).

URS documents can vary widely in quality. Sometimes they are clearly the result of asking very different groups for their input and then making a master list with little integration. In worst-case situations, some individual requirements may be contradictory or even mutually exclusive! Thought should be given to better processes that might be enabled or optimal system design as URS documents are reviewed and finalized.

Often users give their input based on past experience and assumptions and do not know of alternatives. If you can, take the time to educate yourself about alternative technologies and other options, most importantly, consider whether a proposed software system will provide incremental benefit to a current process, or possibly a different and better process. Will the design of a proposed system force you to do things differently and if so will that be an improvement? Ideally an organization will recognize the importance of bringing all participating users up-to-speed before embarking on developing a URS.

There’s one warning: Often I see companies using validation expense and complexity as an excuse to maintain the status quo or justify slow roll-outs. User enthusiasm and support rapidly wane. Ultimately an inflexible or infrequently updated but validated system may become invalid as it fails to address evolving business and regulatory requirements. A validated, but unused, system may even encourage non-compliant user behaviors.

Successful Deployment
If you are asked about a new software system, make sure you give it proper consideration early on – if a given product is not going to unambiguously help you and your colleagues, say so. Later on, you’ll likely be asked to participate in a pilot implementation project. If you never really believed in the product then it will be a waste of your time to be trained and participate in the pilot only to report that the product was of no benefit when you suspected that all along.

If a pilot software project goes well, then IT managers will look for ‘power’ or ‘angel’ users to help roll it out to their colleagues. This is a proven approach to optimize user adoption: I am far more likely to listen to a colleague who has found genuine benefit in a product than to an IT manager.

On the other hand, if a given product makes your job easier and your efforts more productive, do you really want to spend a lot of time promoting it to your colleagues? Fortunately, for software deployment, many users enjoy the challenges and different experiences that promoting a new system can give – make sure you’re likely to be one of them before you get heavily into a new software project. Effective IT project managers are trying to address end user resistance and reduce the fear of failure, while looking for visionaries who can see the long-term benefits while accepting the near-term workload.

Executive sponsorship is essential. Nowadays IT project managers will look to get a senior business executive as a sponsor who can help overcome internal hurdles and encourage adoption. Also a steering or oversight committee will be formed and meet on a regular, but not necessarily, frequent basis.

Without such sponsorship, ultimate project success is much less likely, no matter how much enthusiasm there is among potential business end users. Before volunteering valuable time with a proposed software project, make sure the internal assessment and implementation efforts are well run.

Software Configuration and Customization
While sometimes a software product, touted as a “complete solution,” can do everything required to meet your needs, often it cannot. Simple configuration or customization may be required or software products may need to be acquired and integrated to achieve the required functionalities – so called “best-of-breed” systems. There are many options and forces at play.

In mature software sectors, an out-of-the-box product may fit your needs perfectly. Often some simple configuration options serve to optimize the software. But in less mature sectors, and in specialty applications, further customization may be required.

Here we have to strike a balance. Too often, one or more constituencies demand changes in a proposed software product, but will the proposed changes really produce a business benefit? The downside of any software customization is that it costs more money upfront, and continues to cost more money downstream, while making maintenance updates harder or often impossible. People realize this based on past failed projects or because the burden of validating systems increases dramatically with customization. Nowadays astute IT project managers choose to minimize customization to key features that are going to increase user acceptance and business benefit in a very tangible and measurable way.

As a business end user, you are the most important player in software assessment and deployment because in the end, if a system does not benefit you and your colleagues it will fail. You should lever that position to maximize the most effective use of your time while supporting efforts that will bring real benefits to your company.

Ten Ideas for Corporate RSS Feeds - Blogging Planet ENG

While researching corporate and company blogs I ran across a site for CEO Bloggers, which in turn lead me to an article on using RSS feeds, which was cross-posted at Blogging Planet.

There were 10 reasons listed for implementing RSS feeds (I’ve reproduced the bullet point titles below). It is already clear that my company, Open Text, should at least implement an RSS feed on our news page and homepages to start.

1) Email is an increasingly problematic communications tool due to the growth of spam and the overwhelming amount of email most businesspeople receive.
2) RSS is perfect for the online press room. Some companies using feeds successfully for their newsrooms include:
Cape Clear Software
USA Cycling
US Dept. of State
3) Keep your partners informed.
4) Keep your customers informed.
5) Provide specific informational categories so people can just receive what they are most interested in.
6) Make your resource centers/online libraries dynamic!
7) Put your events to work for you online.
8) Capture and publish the buzz.
9) Set up a feed for special promotions.
10) You can just as easily create private (password-protected) RSS feeds as public ones.

Ten Ideas for Corporate RSS Feeds - Blogging Planet ENG


The 2005 Business Blogging Awards � Winners of the Business Blogging Awards

So here's a site that has an award for the best business blogs.

The 2005 Business Blogging Awards � Winners of the Business Blogging Awards

Corporate Blogs: Land of Opportunity - Arkansas small business blog - Marketing a Business Blog - Part 1

I liked this article (the first of two) which lists five ‘Strategies’ for a business blog.
1. Content, Content, Content
2. Search engine optimization
3. Blog registration
4. Traffic generators
5. Blog awards

Land of Opportunity - Arkansas small business blog - Marketing a Business Blog - Part 1

Corporate Blogs -- Business Blogs - Beyond the Hype

An article oriented to a realistic appraisal of corporate blogs. Some useful sections:

“…blogs are not an effective direct marketing tool”
“Are bloggers, and especially blog consultants, over-hyping blogs? Absolutely.
The first group is merely excited about technology. The second benefits from getting businesspeople to turn off their logic and open their pocket books. The unfortunate backlash -- wholesale discrediting of blogs by critics who have either never used them effectively or never used them altogether.”

business blogs -- beyond the hype

Corproate Blogs: Editorial - CMO Magazine

Open Text (my employer) is considering mounting a corporate blog - entirely appropriate for a company that has sold collaborative software applications for many years. I'm somewhat involved in this initiative, so I've been doing a bit of research. This article from CMO Magazine is one of the better and more recent ones:

Blog to the Future - Editorial - CMO Magazine

I particluarly liked the overview of the types of employee run blogs at Sun. There are three types described:

1. One group of these blogs is tied directly to existing Sun products
2. A second category of employee blogging is not about current products but, among other things, the R&D paths under way at Sun
3. Many of the rest of the employee blogs are on subjects of general interest—albeit to a technical audience

And the paragraph on how a collaborative software vendor used blogs:

Near-Time Flow, a collaboration software maker, used blogs to identify opinion leaders in knowledge management, distributed advance copies of a new product to those leaders and was able to use the comments that appeared in their blogs in its marketing campaigns. Prominent blogs are also a candidate for advertising buys (as in Andrew Sullivan's blog).