Getting everyone in your company, from the executives to the end-users, on board with a records management project is always a challenge. Why? One of the biggest reasons is that records management technology by itself is not a complete solution.
A complete solution has to incorporate the records management technology, your business processes, and the people in your organization. Without everyone’s support your records project could be headed for failure.
Change Management is Critical
Managing the change that comes with a records management project is important. Over the years, we have encountered different corporate cultures regarding the retention of information, especially records. Some organizations are information hoarders. Their users have a habit of keeping personal copies of everything on their C:\ drive or in Outlook folders. Nothing is centralized or searchable. Other companies have attempted to implement content management or records management systems where they expect users to file content. Users however, often do not like using these systems. Users view the system as an obstacle to getting work done, not a benefit. To top it off, even when some companies do get users to upload and classify information, they still do not delete anything…ever. They keep it all in the system, “just in case”.
So, how do you change this corporate culture? How do you get users and management to:
- Agree to let go of their personal copies and centrally manage content
- Destroy corporate records at the end of their lifecycle in a well-managed, defensible approach
You achieve this through an approach that delivers visible benefits to everyone, while minimizing change and disruption. When users see benefits to using records management technology, they become your strongest champions for change!
A Non-Disruptive Approach to Records Management
Humans are creatures of habit. If you suddenly introduce extra steps into someone’s daily work process, in addition to a lot of complaining, you will receive very mixed results. Issues we typically see are:
- Administrators expect users to fill in 10 to 20 metadata fields (many marked mandatory) when uploading records
- Users are forced to apply a record classification code as part of the metadata
- Users select the first option in any metadata field they see, resulting in bad data
No one likes to feel they have had extra work piled on them. If you make the process of adding information to content and records management systems easy, users will adopt it at a much faster pace.
Leverage the core capabilities of the records management system, or third party add-on products, to automate the application of metadata. For example, if you are uploading a contract into a Legal library, you can probably default a number of metadata properties based on knowing the location and document type. Only prompt users to supply metadata where they are the subject matter expert (SME). If they feel they are adding value to the process, they are more willing participants. If you have a large volume of legacy data on file shares or in existing systems, use content analytics tools to crawl and tag this information automatically.
Once the information is uploaded and tagged, the records classification happens in the background based on rules and processes centrally managed by the records team. Remove the end-users from the records classification process altogether.
Implement records management solutions that can manage content in place so users do not have to move their information to a central records archive. Automatically apply the records lifecycle based on how the records is classified. At the end of the record lifecycle, automate the disposition approval process, ultimately destroying the record.
Congratulations! You now have a non-disruptive approach to records management!
Benefits and Value to the End-User
The quickest way to win over your users is to show them the benefits of using a new system. On any project, if you can create quick wins for end users and upper management, support and enthusiasm will naturally develop.
One of the biggest benefits to everyone is information that has reached the end of its life is disposed of. This reduces the amount of information users have to deal with when searching and browsing for content. We have all felt the frustration of searching for content and 50% of our search results are obsolete content, well beyond its useful life.
Another major benefit is that the company can now rest assured information is being accessed, modified, and consumed according to policy. Content involved in litigation, or records that are ready for archive, are made immutable. Users may still access these records, but changes to these records are prevented.
The records and compliance team know that as records reach the end of their lifecycle they are disposed of in a defensible fashion. Disposition takes place according to the rules and regulations in place in their industry and organization. They have visibility and auditability of the entire process.
Highlight Successes to Gain Support
A successful records management project requires the buy-in of the executive team, IT, and your end users. By adopting effective change management and highlighting the successes of the new system, you will quickly gain the support of your user base. You might be surprised to find your loudest initial critics become your biggest champions. With a well-managed records management program, everyone wins.