AIIM – Here’s What I Want

aiim-logoIn his post from last week, Laurence Hart lays out his thoughts about the current state of affairs vis a vis professional associations in the Information Management space. Much of what he wrote is focused on AIIM. While not specific to AIIM, Donda Young also wrote last week about her thoughts about associations and what she’d like.

For those of you not familiar with it, AIIM is a professional association for Information Management. As far as I’m concerned, AIIM is the association for Information Management. Don’t take the preceding sentence to mean that I think AIIM is perfect; it’s not.

I’ve written this to tell AIIM what I, as an Information Management Professional, want and need from them. It’s quite likely that I’ll think of other things after pressing “publish” and that other IM Pros will have other things that they want to see (feel free to add them via comments, better yet, tell AIIM directly). It’s also likely that some readers will disagree with what I’ve written.

First of all, I have no clue about what it takes to run an association other than it doesn’t seem easy. Secondly, on balance I have to say that my involvement with AIIM (since 2008/09) has been beneficial to me, professionally and personally. I’ve availed myself of training and certification, I’ve attended the annual conference a few times, I’ve used some of the available resources, and I’ve developed relationships with some pretty smart, talented, and nice people. My involvement with AIIM has most certainly made me a better, smarter Information Professional, Certified, even.

Training and Certification

I agree with several others when they say that AIIM’s “entry level” training is pretty good. In fact, I’ve taken three of AIIM’s courses and gotten the Master certificate for Enterprise Content Management (ECM), Electronic Records Management (ERM – I have fond memories of VG telling me to stop over thinking things), and Email Management (EMM). I could go and take more of the AIIM xxM courses, but what’s the point, really? What I and others would really like to see is training offerings for experienced professionals.

I’m not really certain what advanced training would look like, but I do think it ought to include topics such as leadership and innovation & transformation. I’m not thinking that it would lead to certificates like the Practitioner / Specialist / Master things; I’m thinking that it might, perhaps, be akin to a maturity model.

Those of us who have a stake and have been paying attention already know what unfolded with AIIM’s Certified Information Professional (CIP) designation at the end of last year. We also can take a fairly educated guess as to why stuff happened (1,000+ CIPs in 4+ years is not a shabby accomplishment, BTW). Fortunately, the CIP lives on and will evolve, at least to a 2.0 (though it thankfully won’t be called “CIP 2 dot oh”). Two thing I’d love to see on the CIP exam are a case study and an ethics component.

I know I’m not alone in thinking that the CIP needs to live on and continue to evolve, and that AIIM is best suited to be the custodian and nurturer of the CIP or similar designation. I also know that I’m not alone in thinking that AIIM really needs to do a better job of marketing the CIP, especially to businesses looking to hire IM Pros. Earlier this year I wrote a post about the new (sort of) CIP; it states what I’d like to see. One thing that I didn’t include in the post, because I hadn’t thought of it at the time, is that I’d like AIIM to create a CIP register. The register would serve to market those CIP’s that opt in to be listed, and it would also market the CIP itself.


One of the benefits of joining an association is that we develop a peer network. To me, a peer network is beneficial on a number of fronts. Learning, sanity checking, job/engagement hunts, resources (I’ve already brought two people I’ve met via AIIM into projects I needed hep with), and beer are all facilitated by the network I’ve developed, regardless of whether or not some of the individuals are still AIIM members. I’d love to see AIIM develop additional networking opportunities whether through the Community, via webinars, hangouts, or some other means. The specifics don’t really matter right now; it just matters that it happens and not only during the conference. I realize that chapters are supposed to fill this role, however, I have heard some of the complaints and criticisms related to AIIM HQ’s relationship with chapters. I’m not involved with any chapters, so I’m going to stop here lest I be labelled a hypocrite (or maybe I’ll pull my thumb out and get involved, dunno).

Like it or not, one of the reasons that vendors and service providers join associations and network is to develop leads. I personally don’t have an issue with this as long as it’s transparent. As a practitioner I joined AIIM to learn and to develop relationships of the non-lead variety. As a service provider I joined AIIM in order to educate and to find potential clients or employers. In the latter scenario I try not to be intrusive.

Someone opined that there is a need for two separate associations; one for the “industry (vendors, consultants, SI’s)” and another for “practitioners (end users, people in the real world)”. I get the point, but I don’t agree. As a practitioner I do actually find value in what the “industry” sometimes has to say. Besides, I don’t necessarily want to join two separate associations, with all that entails, that cover the same basics.

One thing that I do have an issue with is panels at the AIIM conference being the sole domain of sponsoring vendors. Yes, I understand they’re paying money and it’s all part of their annual marketing spend, but I think there needs to be a balance. I’m not saying that vendors should be excluded from panels, I’m saying that perhaps an additional panel or three made up of practitioners and non-sponsoring experts may be a good idea. There are a lot of really smart people that don’t work for vendors who have tons to contribute.

Thought Leadership & Evangelism

We’ve all seen AIIM events / webinars about reducing or eliminating paper from processes, how to get started with e-signatures, and how to implement ECM or SharePoint. No offense, but booooring. I’d love to see more content like this webinar about next generation Information Professionals. I’d love to see more content that is true thought leadership. I understand that there is a need for content that deals with present day, mundane issues that practitioners are dealing with, but, those same practitioners are going to need to deal with issues that are not even defined yet. AIIM, in my opinion, needs to lead conversations about transformation, disruption, and innovation.

In short, I’d love to see AIIM as a think tank and futurist. I want AIIM to not necessarily be right about what’s going to happen, but to make me think about what’s going to happen. Yes, I know that the Executive Leadership Council is partially responsible for this, but check it out and tell me whose perspective we’re getting for the most part (yes, I’m bitter and jaded). I’m not saying get rid of the ELC or kill the fees; give those who have something to contribute regardless of their position, affiliation, or budget a voice and a forum.

Odds & Ends

Webinar transcripts that we can download with the slides and recording would be great. Sometimes we just don’t want to listen and would rather read. These would be especially useful for when you need to revisit a point several times. This wasn’t my idea, but I really like it.

All those surveys and research reports – let us download the raw data and do our own stuff with it. Gotta thank Laurence Hart for this one.

Remember the old community and “expert blogger” program? It’d be nice to have something like that again. It was good knowing that when I contributed a post to the AIIM blog someone was going to publicise it and include it in the newsletter.

Bring back TweetJams.

Thank You

I used to be an ARMA (International and Canada) member, but the value proposition for me has vanished. Consequently, I’m no longer a member. The Information Coalition is a new professional organization that says they’re not an association. Since I know some of the folks that set it up, and I trust their motives, I’ve signed up for a free membership. I’ll give it some time and buy a membership if I find that I’ll get value out of it, but it’s too early to tell.

As far as AIIM is concerned, as long as I continue to get value I’ll support them by renewing my membership, attending the conference, posting on the Community blog, and generally engaging as appropriate.

I was thinking about posting this either immediately prior to or immediately after the AIIM conference, but I decided to post it while the search for John Mancini’s replacement as CEO is underway. I’m hoping that this will give AIIM and potential candidates something to think about.

To all of you at AIIM, doing what you do, thank you.

2015 – The Year in Review

Jeep Snow DriveA few things before I get started:

  1. This post is not strictly related to Information Management, but I’ve got nowhere else that I post, so, it is what it is;
  2. This will meander and be disjointed;
  3. This post was partially inspired by Michael Wekerle (from an exchange we had on twitter – image below) and Jennifer Langston.


Wek and Walker

It’s December, the last month of the year depending on what calendar you follow. This post is bit of a retrospective of a, for me, less than stellar 2015. That said, I’m justifiably optimistic that 2016 is going to be better.

The tweet exchange pictured above got me to thinking about how I got to where I am professionally. To make a long story short:

  • Around 1987 or so I finally decided I wanted to be a chartered accountant;
  • Couldn’t afford full time school, so went at night after work;
  • My Cal II mark was below the cut-off for year two university by two (2) friggin’ percent;
  • I bailed on university and focused on work (IT support at a public accountancy firm);
  • Found I liked IT and in 1991 went to one of those tech type schools for a year (one of the firm’s partners warned that there might not be much of a future in IT);
  • Went back to work and found I like the business side of IT better than the tech side;
  • Went back to university at night (while working and raising my first son);
  • Graduated in 1996 with a certificate (bachelor’s w/out the fluff)
  • Fast forward to 2007 and I got into all the joy that is ECM (finally found my calling at 43);
  • More education, but this time from a variety of sources including professional orgs, peers, industry experts, vendors, … you get the idea;
  • Attained some level of respect and credibility in the Information Management space, gotta keep learning to keep it up.

I offer up the above for two reasons: 1) it kinda supports some points made in the twitter exchange, and; 2) it relates to the professional (financial, really) debacle that 2015 was for me.

The economy in Alberta has been horrible since the price of oil has taken a nose dive. I won’t get into details, but it ended up costing me a few projects and a lot of money. Fortunately I was able to get some other pieces of work, but they didn’t come remotely close to making up for the revenue I lost due to cancelled projects. While this work related mess is happening, there’s some pretty significant upheaval starting in my personal life. As is often the case, family finances are a contributing factor.

It was pointed out to me that had I made some different career choices years ago, we may not be in this mess. Sure. However, had I made those choices (get into being a PM or into a technical role – neither of which I have much of an aptitude for or desire to do) I likely would have been fired multiple times, and I certainly would be a miserable bastard coming home from a job I hated.

Whatever … I’m not getting into too many details here – way too personal unless we’re sharing some pints. 2015 didn’t turn out like I’d expected, so I focused on learning and proposing projects that made sense under the current economic conditions. Is someone gonna bite soon? Dunno. I’ll hound them.

2015 pretty much sucked, professionally and personally. There was one exception, of a personal nature, that was unexpected, makes me extremely happy, and for which I am grateful that I recognized and acted upon. Things are looking up, though. Closing out 2015 and starting 2016 look like the corner’s been turned. No guarantees, but I’m optimistic.

Here’s some things that I’ve learned, or re-learned, over the past year. Some of them are things that others have said.

  • I have a really good, supportive network of friends, colleagues, and peers;
  • Don’t be so tied or dependent on an outcome that you can’t continue if it doesn’t happen;
  • If you can’t accept or deal with the consequences, don’t do it;
  • Barring a fatality, there’s nothing I can’t or won’t recover from;
  • Just get back up and keep pushing;
  • It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, despondent, discouraged, whatever for a few minutes but no more;
  • You are responsible for you;
  • If you’re not willing to be part of the solution, don’t whine to me about the problem;
  • Every day, week, month, and year is another chance for your optimism to be justified;
  • Whether it’s professionally, personally, or romantically, be smart enough and open enough to recognize the opportunities in front of you. Then act.

Anyways, that’s it. To you and yours, whatever you do or don’t celebrate at this time of year, be healthy, happy, and safe. Not just now, but, you know, the other 11 months of the year as well.

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