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.

Networking

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.

Today I Earned My CIP


CertInfoProfI wrote AIIM’s Certified Information Professional (CIP) exam in March 2015. Two hours to answer 100 multiple choice questions across six knowledge areas. I finished in 41 minutes. Frankly, I suggest that anyone who needs the entire two hours should probably not be working in any area related to managing information.

I wrote the exam not because I wanted the certificate for any particular reason, but because I wanted to assess my competence across the various domains. In preparation for the exam I did absolutely nothing other than what I do on a regular basis. I worked on my projects, I engaged with the information management community, I read, I wrote, and I attended the annual AIIM conference. I admit to a certain amount of trepidation in my approach as I may have found out I’m not as “expert” as I had initially thought.

As it turned out, I missed my target score by 0.9% overall, but I passed the exam and in a few weeks I’ll get an email, a certificate, and a pin (apparently I’m on my own to get the tattoo). I’m pretty pleased, not because I passed, but because the score breakdown shows me where I need to put in some additional effort in my professional development (not that anyone should ever consider not putting in effort). My breakdown is as follows:

  • Access / Use – I scored about what I expected and I’m happy with that.
  • Capture / Manage – I scored a little higher than I expected. I’m a bit “meh” about that one as the capture part isn’t really where I put a lot of focus, but I do spend a fair bit of time dealing with the manage piece.
  • Collaborate / Deliver – I scored lower than I expected. I’ll need to put some additional effort in here.
  • Secure / Preserve – I scored way higher than I expected. This one scares me as it may indicate that I ought to get into Records Management or something.
  • Architecture / Systems – I scored about what I expected. I would have been seriously bummed if I’d scored lower than expected as this is where I make most of my living.
  • Plan / Implement – See above.

I’d love to get a question-by-question breakdown of what my scores were; I’ll bet money that there are some AIIM and I could debate. Having taken some AIIM training in the past, I know that sometimes the answers on the exams are based on the course content rather than what happens in the real world. I’m cool with that as there are just too many possible right answers to account for them all in an exam.

Assuming the course goes ahead, I’ll likely continue with some professional development in May by taking AIIM’s ECM course in Calgary. I already have the ECM Master certificate (along with ERM and EMM), but I’m not after the certificate. I’m after what I can learn by attending the sessions and leveraging the discussions with the instructor (Jesse Wilkins) and the other attendees. I know that there are some who attend training for the piece of paper, and that’s cool in an academic setting. In real life, the take away has to be the experience and the knowledge. The paper is, maybe, a good piece of personal marketing.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the pat down and scan upon entering the exam facility; the TSA and CATSA could learn a thing or two.

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