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Working with a broad range of industries throughout the years on their information governance and records management initiatives, one thing that constantly baffles the mind: Organizations still place the keystone responsibility to make their initiative successful in the hands of the user.
Inevitably, all the best plans, processes, and change management efforts to strengthen your information management strategy comes down to what the end user does with their information. Many organizations develop very thorough record retention schedules, classification schemes and information taxonomies, only to default burdening the user to pick, select or assign one or more values to the information.
If your organization fits into this description, take a minute to look around the next time you are walking to the lunch room or to your next meeting. Notice the state of the desks. It goes without saying that you will see all situations; but in general, many of the desks will be in what appears to be disarray.
This isn’t an indictment of people in general or a reflection of their intelligence, it is just the state of being. Many people find organization in what some would call “chaos”. Most would even defend their situation by stating “I can find anything I need”.
Now, let’s apply what we have seen to your information and records strategy. Your plans hinge on the exact people whose desks you have observed. Can we expect that these people will sit through some process to classify and potentially organize the information into a scheme that they didn’t develop? Unlikely. And with only a third of the adult population capable of performing medium-complexity tasks using computers, a records strategy that relies on them to properly classify information is a plan that is designed to fail.
The situation isn’t a new one, so don’t feel like your organization has made a huge error. However, take this opportunity to stop, think, and find alternatives to address the situation.
Here are some options that you may consider:
In summary, don’t fall into the obvious trap of many information governance and records strategies by relying on the biggest source of failure, the user. Take a walk and look around.