Being a relative newcomer to the fascinating world of Records and Information Management, I can enjoy the luxury of ignorance. I’m going to proceed on the basis that it’s not the stupid kind of ignorance, but the type that comes from just not knowing certain things yet.
It seems to me that Records Management used to be a much simpler proposition for organizations to consider and implement than it is today. Certainly the skills and knowledge to understand the ins and outs of classification, retention and disposition have always been required, and still are. My assertion that it used to be simpler stems from the premise that information and records were once all on paper and the movement and flow of that paper was much more tightly controlled than we could ever hope to do today. What’s more, the people charged with managing all of this were well trained and dedicated to doing the right things with corporate information.
As the world has evolved to more electronic information storage (MUCH more), a number of the rules have changed, and the landscape is virtually unrecognizable. Suddenly we wake up one morning and all those organized, classified and managed records, as well as all manner of equally important non records, are scattered across shared drives, old applications, phones, tablets, various clouds. And of course several forms of information that you had no idea existed. This can no longer be controlled by that highly trained person or group that was often housed in the corporate basement known as the Records Manager(s).
This disconnect seems to be where the real problem lies today. The size and scope of an organization’s information holdings has grown to the point where it’s no longer possible to control with a small Records Management team. It requires commitment from the entire organization. This is also where it gets complicated. As the electronic world has evolved over the past 30 years or so, it has been the IT department that has held control of the data, and usually the budgets. This makes complete sense, as long as your organization views its holdings as data, and not information. Obviously that would be a less than smart way to look at it, but it’s exactly what has happened over the years, and it really needs to be stopped. Assuming that information is any organization’s most valuable asset, we need to take a more value centric position regarding that information. In upcoming posts, I will explore some challenges and just maybe, some solutions.