17 November 2014

Is IG a new package and labeling of RIM?

Recently, the Records Management ListServ hosted a spirited discussion on the above question.  Here was my response:

Information Governance means coordinating all the records' stakeholders, focusing them on their organizations' goals.  The role requires team building across disciplines and the ability to forge potent alliances.  An Information Governor must be able to speak Legalese to the attorneys and techno-babble to IT, as well as being adept with records.  Historically, many records managers were not skilled in this, nor were they eager to try it.

The Information Governor is an ambassador or statesperson who can break down walls, silos, hegemonies, and fiefdoms.  And, of course, it requires a profound understanding of RIM and the information lifecycle.  The job is difficult --- not just conceptually, but socially -- because many attorneys want to "keep everything forever" and many technologists perceive records managers as document librarians without technical understanding.  (And truly, what percentage of records managers are comfortable managing records in databases, in clouds, or in the custody of social media/mobile app hosts?)  [I am preparing a presentation with the working title, "Records Is from Venus; Legal Is from Mars; IT Is from Jupiter.]

If an organization changes a job title from "Records Manager" to "Information Governance Manager", perhaps leadership is saying the organization needs more synergy between Records, Legal, IT, and maybe Security, Compliance, Finance, and other groups.

Your thoughts?

10 November 2014

New Records Technology: Structured Data Archiving

Care for an example of how IT, Legal, and Records need to work together (commonly known as Information Governance?)  Here’s one development:

Technology at ARMA International is a fascinating mélange.  Each year, we see incremental improvements.  There are faster scanners, increasingly subtle analytics, greater capacities, more resolution, less-volatile media, and more.

But the one technological breakthrough I saw in San Diego filled a glaring abyss in Records & Information capabilities.  While the technology is not “must have” for all organizations, it is a game-changer for those that do.

I’m talking about records management in Structured Data Archiving.  At least two vendors offered it at ARMA.

Why is SDA needed? Well, databases contain record-quality information that is subject to an organization’s retention schedule.  Sometimes that data needs to be off-loaded from the database, for various reasons.
1.       The database may be full to the point of diminished performance.  Overload may “bring a system to its knees”.
2.        A system may be retired before the retention requirements on the data are fulfilled
3.       Data being archived may be on legal hold
4.       A database containing records may be inactive, with little prospect for reenactment

When I last looked at Structured Data Archiving, a couple years ago, there were plenty of products on the market.  However, none that I saw had a facile capability to apply the Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles to the archived data.  Oh, there were workarounds, but they were either unacceptably expensive or architecturally contorted.

Now there is software that can apply disposal dates to data as it goes into the archive – even if the original database did not offer that capability.  Legal holds applied to the data are maintained as the data is archived, later to be lifted while the disposal clock to go right on ticking.

A caveat: any migration requires meticulous care to protect the records’ integrity.

Nonetheless, for organizations with many outdated systems, SDA can pay for itself because archived storage is cheaper than data on active systems.  At the same time, it lowers the risk of losing record data or keeping it beyond its disposal date.  This is a significant step forward.

Legal can have access to pertinent records, while the Records department enforces its retention schedule, and IT makes it happen.  That sounds like Information Governance to me.

31 October 2014

ARMA's Morph to IG Positive

ARMA International is all-in on Information Governance.  I am not privy to ARMA Board meetings, nor have I talked about this with the staff HQ.  But walking into the annual conference in San Diego this week, the switch from RIM to IG was inescapable.

Traditionalists may bemoan the blurring focus, seeing it as a dilution of discipline or a paean to fashionable modernity.

I see it as ARMA’s devotion to its mission: improving the professional lives of its members.  That’s not new.

The Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles were more than the latest codification of the millennia-old discipline of records management.  The Principles were designed to show other professional disciplines, such as Law and Accounting, that RIM is a counterpart deserving a seat at the Board table.  The Principles aligned RIM in a way that made it comparable, understandable, and estimable to other professions.

The move to Information Governance is the next step.  It goes beyond the assertion, “We’re equal.”  Now ARMA is bold to say, “Not only are we equally important, we are essential to organizational success.  Further, that success requires creative interaction between RIM and other disciplines.”

The result is twofold:

  •       RIMmers practicing IG rise in status and influence.  The rise includes respect and salary.
  •    Organizations endorsing IG enjoy an advantage over competitors who employ the old, dysfunctional siloed style of operation.  

I don’t know if the old stereotype of records managers was ever true.  You know, the introvert who went to library school to get a quiet, out-of-the-way job, checking records in and out.  If it ever was true, it went the way of physical card catalogs.

Today’s Information Governors (neé Records Managers) are Three Musketeers, along with Legal and IT.  And D’Artagnan may be Accounting, Security, Compliance, or others.

ARMA has seen this and pushed it.  Not everyone wants to move forward and wear this mantel.  But it is the path to success for both ARMA members and the organizations they serve.

29 October 2014

Toward Goals

ARMA 2014 – the conference and expo – met in San Diego this week. Here's my initial impression and a differentiator from past meetings:

More devotees of Records & Information Management/Governance now recognize that their efforts must enhance and support movement toward their organizations’ goals.  In the private sector, that generally means contributing to black ink on the balance sheet.

In past years, records purists tried to perfect their discipline:

  •        The data map and records inventory must be complete and comprehensive
  •       The retention schedule must have the optimum number of classifications and be refreshed on an aggressive schedule
  •       The taxonomy must be optimized and current
  •        The numbers on the Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles Maturity Model must rise each year

These were always important, but now there is a greater realization that the goal is a successful organization, not a pure practice of the discipline.

This may reflect the rise of Information Governance in the RIM community.  IG is more holistic, reflecting a concern with organization success.  It gets RIM practitioners out of their silo (or Records Center) and closer to the C-suite.  There, they share or buy into the overall goal of the organization – commercially speaking, more profits or a rising stock price.

Stay tuned for more from ARMA 2014.