Some Gentle Reminders


These are just some reminders – there’s really nothing original about them, but they are important.

  1. It’s all information and it all needs to be managed – Regardless of whether we’re speaking about data, content, information, records, web content, …, it is all information and it all needs to be managed.  It matters not how much or how little structure is applied, nor does it matter if we call it a record.
  2. Have a purpose and a plan – Establish at least one objective and have some idea of how you’re going to achieve it before spending time and money on an information management initiative. Don’t just do something to keep up with the Joneses.
  3. Information is an asset; treat it accordingly – Like any other corporate asset, information needs to be managed properly.  There are costs associated to acquisition, maintenance / management, and disposal.  There is also potential residual value, beyond archival value, in information (think about stripping out data to be used in Business Intelligence or Customer Relationship Management).
  4. It’s the message, not the medium, that’s important – If I communicate a decision via a sticky note, an email, a Word document, a text message, or a Tweet, the decision is what’s important, not how I delivered it.  The delivery mechanism (file format) should indicate nothing more than how the message needs to managed from a mechanical (not business) point of view. I.e.: a classification model should account for the subject of the decision, not for the file format.
  5. If you have it they can use it against you – Regardless of when you could have gotten rid of something, if you didn’t actually get rid of it it is subject to discovery.
  6. Without the people nothing will work – You can have the best processes and tools on the planet, but if your stakeholders don’t buy in it will never work.
  7. Governance must not inhibit creativity or productivity – If your people are being less productive, creative, or innovative than you’d hoped, there is something wrong.  Good governance must protect from risk and enable performance simultaneously. Andrew McAfee said it much better than I could.
  8. Don’t try this alone – At some point you’re going to need help.  It may be at the definition stage, it may be during implementation, it may be related to organizational change management, it may be all the way along. Assess your capabilities honestly and get the help you need.
  9. Information is infrastructure – If you don’t believe me try running your business without it. Information and the systems that manage it are as key to running an organization as databases (which contain some of the information), security (which controls access to information), and operating systems.  This is especially true when considering the products / vendors noted in the upper right quadrant of Gartner’s ECM Magic Quadrant (I’m not providing a link since you’ve probably all seen it anyways).
  10. There’s nothing new – Requirements to create, consume, share, store, and use information are not new.  Even collaborating has been around for millennia.  What’s new are the demands and opportunities resulting from increases in volumes of information and expectations to do more with less and do it faster and better. The good news is that we have some really cool new tools to help us.

 

Records – Do They Matter?


I originally posted this on AIIM’s Information Zen site (now defunct), but thought I’d update it a bit and repost it here…

Leaving legal aspects out of the discussion for the moment, does it really matter whether or not content is a record?  If content is not declared a record, is that content less valid or valuable than if it were considered a record?  I am referring to the business value of content.  I am referring to an organization’s ability to leverage the content in order to reduce wasted effort, to increase customer satisfaction, to drive profitability, to reduce expenses, and to keep everyone’s butt out of the slammer.

If I do take legal issues into consideration, does the “recordness” of content make a difference, provided I can back up everything I say about the content’s use, access, authenticity, and provenance?  Personally, I don’t think it should; I know it does, but that’s just because too many people out there haven’t fully caught on to this new invention called the computer yet.

If within the context of discovery, an organization is told to produce certain content, said organization cannot reply “but we never declared it as a record” as a rationale for not including it in the discovery.  So even from a legal point of view, the “recordness” of content is becoming, in my opinion, less critical.  I believe that as we grow more and more comfortable with electronic content, content’s status as a record will become less important.  The fact is, with the proper tools and procedures we can secure, audit, and authenticate non-record (electronic) content every bit as well as if the content were declared a record.  With the proper tools we can manage the lifecycle of any piece of content very effectively.  Let’s face it; the lifecycle of content is not very complicated: get it, use it, dispose of it.

If the “recordness” of content is becoming less important, do we still need Records Managers?  We do, but I think we need to change their titles, job descriptions, and the amount of authority they have in organisations.  There is some interesting discussion about the RIM profession happening on the ARMA Linkedin group and on the AIIM ERM Community site.

 

Teach Your Children (tks 2 CSN&Y)


Last week on the AIIM E2.0 Community site I posted something about this CTV News article concerning a couple of high school students and Facebook.  I suggested in my post that before we can punish transgressions we need to educate.  As I’m writing this I am also thinking about other events, some tragic, that perhaps could have been prevented had we simply taught our children how to behave online.

It’s hard enough growing up today and trying to learn all the rules of society.  Our roles as parents, educators, aunts, uncles, and responsible adults of all stripes is to help educate the kids as to what is and what isn’t acceptable and safe.  This includes online activity.  We monitor the stuff our kids get up to online, but do we actually teach them? I think that it’s about time that we started to.

Teaching our kids about their online presence needs to involve the school system as well as the kids’ families. Our school systems (at least the one my kids attend) get involved in teaching our kids about sex, drugs, driving, alcohol, and religion; why not about how to behave online? Think about this for a minute: as experienced adults who work online everyday even we don’t always know what we’re supposed to do (obviously I am generalizing). How often do we complain(?) about the amount of email we receive or the number of times we need to check our Linkfacetwitwikispacebookblog? How often do we read about adults, who ought to know better, getting victimized online in one form or another?

I’m just guessing that we take for granted that the kids will just grow up knowing what to do with technology because it’s been around them since day one.  That’s just silly; I’ve had cars around me since the day I was born, but that doesn’t mean that I knew how to drive without someone actually teaching me (to tell the truth, I run into people every day who I suspect don’t know how to drive even though they are behind the wheel of a car).

Is it possible to engage with the school systems to provide some sort of education to the students on how to conduct themselves online? I think it is.

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