Ensuring a Successful Records Information Management Program
At the recent Recall User Conference in Miami, I had an opportunity to sit down with John Montaña and ask him some questions around Records & Information Management (RIM) best practices. John has been deeply involved in the legal aspects of records management and retention scheduling for over twenty years. During our conversation, I posed the following question to him:
Q: What are the appropriate steps a records manager needs to take to ensure a successful RIM program?
John’s Answer: There are several steps that are key to developing a good program.
The first is to gain a good understanding of where you are right now. You can’t develop a go-forward plan if you don’t know where you’re starting from. That means understanding where you’re strong, where you need improvement and where your pain points are.
The next is to develop a clear vision of what you want your realistic end-state to look like. Your plan is a route map. You’re going from here to there, and if you don’t know where here is and there is, it’ll be tough to make the trip. You’ll probably get lost a lot.
Next, you need a realistic assessment of what your resources are going to look like. That means expertise, people, money, space, infrastructure — everything. There’s no point in developing a game plan that you don’t have, or can’t reasonably expect to get, the resources to execute properly. But, even if you have limited resources, you can always achieve something valuable if you’re realistic about what you have and use then those resources wisely. Battles aren’t always won by the general with the biggest army. Smarter counts for a lot.
Then, plan, plan, plan. The more you need to accomplish, the more you need to plan, before you start spending money on big-ticket items. And likewise, the scarcer your resources, the more you need to plan. You can’t afford to burn up scarce resources and valuable time (or valuable credibility within your organization) on false starts or unhelpful projects. Before you start anything, you should have a prioritized list of must-haves, would-like-to-haves, and not-so-important; with at least some cost estimates associated with them. Regardless of the size of your staff or budget, you can’t afford to burn time and money on the least important things while the important things languish.
Then – and only then – should you start moving forward. You’ll need to keep planning, though. Successful accomplishment of a series of projects require that things happen in the right order (so that when something like a retention schedule is needed, it’s completed and available), and that the correct resources are available and committed when needed. And of course, you have to plan for, and around, the issues, delays, mistakes and other problems that will inevitably arise in a complex undertaking.
If you keep to a game plan like this, you’ll go a long way toward making your records management program successful.