agile records management

Creating an Agile Records Management Plan

The traditional approach to records management is a massive undertaking. You spend a great deal of time developing a complex file plan and record schedule only to find it doesn’t exactly work as you expected and your employees fight using it. There is a better approach to records management that provides an agile way to managing your most critical assets.

In our webinar, Is Your Records Management Plan Doomed? There’s a Better Way, Johnny Gee, Director, Digital Experience at Flatirons Jouve shared some insights on why the traditional approach to records management doesn’t work and how you can do it right.

The Challenges with Traditional Records Management

Before we examine the right approach to agile records management, let’s look at why the traditional approach no longer works.

  • Over planning: It takes a lot of work to develop a full traditional records management plan. Co-ordinating with various departments, developing a complete inventory of document types required and identifying everything that you need to keep or destroy – it seems an insurmountable mountain of effort.
  • Centralization is a Black Hole: One system that captures everything, even when there’s no requirement to do so, will cost a lot of money and return a very questionable ROI.
  • You treating everything like paper: Management of paper records tends to be very stringent, more so than you need for digital records. Applying the same process and rules to all content to simplify the file plan might make sense in the short-term, but will cause problems in the long-term you might not expect.
  • You train everyone on everything: Traditional records management often forces people to change their processes to meet the polices and rules of the file plan. It also requires a lot of manual effort that newer approaches can do through automation.
  • One big rollout: Experience tells us that enterprise-wide deployments of any system is a bad idea. In the case of records management, you have to have all content captured, all employees trained and all retention polices ready to enforce – at the same time.

A Strategic Approach to Records Management

So if the traditional approach no longer works, then what does a more strategic, agile records management approach look like?

  • Take it one step at a time: Develop your file plan incrementally. Identify early adopters and do some small scale proof of concepts to show the plan works. Validate and refine the plan as you go, and build your inventory of document types as you move through smaller projects. How do you decide where to start? Think about the most critical information you need to get under records management, consider who is ready and has budget to start doing something, and identify some quick wins to get the buy-in you need to move forward.
  • Develop a records schedule that build on early success: Consider starting with the easiest retention rules. With these in place, you can gain confidence and competence for the harder work to come. You also want to avoid content that forces big debates on what to keep and what to destroy because it will slow down the process.
  • Integration, not migration, drives the best ROI: It’s not necessary to pull all records into a big, centralized repository. Sometimes it makes more sense to manage records in place; federated systems often provide greater long-term flexibility and resiliency to technology and process change.
  • Paper records and digital records are not the same: The sooner you understand the differences between the two and plan accordingly, the better. Understand that disposing of paper records is much more straightforward than disposing of digital records, and digital records like emails have challenges related volume and duplication you’ll have to deal with.
  • People are as important as technology: It’s critical to focus on the people as much as the technology. Identify champions to help you sell your approach and plan and develop a campaign that communicates successes and proves the process works. You also don’t want to force people to change the way they work to meet the plan; instead, adapt the technology to work with existing processes as much as possible and only change those processes that aren’t working.

The best records management plan is one that is agile, builds on small successes and involves people from the beginning. You can hear more from Johnny Gee and Everteam COO, Ken Lownie by watching the replay of the webinar below. You can also learn how Everteam’s records management solution, everteam.records, meets this modern approach.