The key to fully implemented records and information management (RIM) principles and practices in organizations is excellence in vision and comprehensiveness in RIM program scope. Many RIM program activities, such as creating quality records retention schedules, designing corporate-wide file plans, building software system taxonomies, and planning for document storage and retrieval, require professional insight and attentiveness.
For a RIM program to be fully engaged with extensive executive-level support and committed employee participation, RIM professionals must reach out to their customers and build strong cooperative relationships. This often requires the RIM professional to take the initiative in what eventually will be a mutually rewarding business relationship.
Engaging Other Stakeholders
RIM program business unit (BIT) customers have a vested personal interest in getting rid of useless information and ensuring that their important business records will be accessible, regardless of their format. Most BUs are continually coping with the volumes of data that engulf their offices and computers, and they often cannot find information relevant to daily tasks.
They are well aware they could benefit from better management of their information. However, they are extremely protective of their resources and need to have a sense that any business relationships will result in a better ability to meet their work objectives.
All too often, though, RIM program initiatives--to create retention schedules or revise policies, for example--are placed on BUs with little or no direct budget allocation to address the issues that arise. Without funding to work with RIM program personnel, these initiatives can easily be perceived as additional burdens with little return on investment (ROI) for the BU department managers or their personnel.
Therefore, ROI and benefits for BUs must be clearly articulated and presented. It is not sufficient to simply point out the general rewards, such as improved efficiencies or faster document access. RIM professionals must provide specific, locally generated operational metrics that will be easily understood and appreciated.
As an example, the benefits of having records not needed for immediate access stored securely in a central location are easily demonstrated and calculated. These would include the:
* Lower cost of centralized storage than in-office retention
* Decreased potential for BUs that use an electronic records repository--rather than retain records within their immediate control--to be involved in producing electronic records for e-discovery or testifying in court regarding information or systems
Benefits to IT
There are also benefits for an information technology (IT) organization and its personnel. IT personnel have numerous challenges regarding data management and protection. In addition, the data in IT systems must be retained and preserved for future access. These interests directly overlap those of RIM professionals and programs. In many cases, such records issues cannot be addressed without detailed collaboration between these groups.
This is especially true for e-discovery, where records requests must often be translated from subject- or people-related inquiries into electronic records with data descriptions and system locations. An electronic records inventory can be of tremendous assistance to IT personnel in pro-rooting an understanding of the content of data systems. The retention rules that dictate how long items must be retained in IT systems often come from RIM-related policies, but they require IT personnel intervention for implementation.
Benefits to Legal
Legal counsel in organizations is typically the first to receive litigation-related requests for information. However, legal staff rarely has an all-encompassing knowledge of the content of the paper filing systems or computer systems data used by personnel. …