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The fluid landscape of records management
I fell into records and information management more years ago than I care to admit. When I first started, one of my jobs was to log records in a ledger that had records dating back to 1911 — not when I started by the way!
In the years that I have been in records management, I have seen some substantial changes, from pure physical records management, to the onslaught of eDRMS as the silver bullet (which of course it wasn’t).
What I see now, though, is that changes keep coming, but it’s not so much the change that is the issue as the pace of change that we are seeing., The most prevalent example of this is the rapid movement from on-premises to cloud based solutions.
I have spent much more of my career working with traditional records management systems, like HP Records Manager (formerly TRIM) and eDOCS, (see aforementioned silver bullet!) than not. These systems have always been primarily designed for use by the records manager, rather than the end user.
They also expect all of us to work to work in a way that is not much more than physical records management transferred to an electronic environment. As a person who has ‘grown up’ in the world of records management, that was completely fine with me.
I understood how it all worked, I understood retention and disposal schedules, business classification schema, the mapping of the two, metadata schema, and security schema. It all made sense to me because that is how I had been trained to think.
The user perspective
The reality is though, as great as that was for me as a records manager, I was the only one who really liked it. Users absolutely HATED it. Fun Fact: In one organisation I worked for, people would pretend to hide from the ‘records lady’ when I walked through the corridors. Users were justified in their hatred.
These systems asked them to work in a way that was different to the way they were used to working.They asked them to perform tasks, like manual record declaration, that were outside of their normal business process and they essentially mimicked paper-based processes only in an electronic environment. For the end user, there wasn’t a lot there to like!
The change I have started to embrace was rather than aligning users to records management, I can align records management to the users. And you know what users love? Nothing. They love not having to do anything else, and with technology meeting users where they work, they won’t need to.
Putting records management behind the scenes, in the systems where the users are working, rather than relying on a complex silver bullet solution both ensures end users are willing to engage and still meeting records managements requirements.
The move to cloud
There has been a shift in the landscape, with more organisations migrating to and expanding their use of Cloud platforms, Records Management processes are also moving here as well.
I’m still working on this one myself and changing my thinking about how we do things, but the more I look at this, the more organisations I see adopt this new way of doing things, the more success I see for records managers. And there’s a lot to like about that.