Kaizen Infosource LLC

Managing Half the Picture



I know some of you will be shocked to learn that paper has not gone away as was predicted over 10 years ago. Even the volume of paper has not decreased, but rather electronic information has increased alongside the paper due to the ease and speed in which we create information has improved. Very few people are completely one or the other.

We are a hybrid-world – a world where our information comes, and goes, in a variety of format and through various means. So why do companies still approach Records and Information Management (RIM) via one medium? Either a company or agency is looking to manage their hard copy records or they are looking at software to get their email or electronic information under control. Why is it an either/or conversation? If one side of the coin is unmanaged has the risk been abated? Do you really know what you have if you have thousands of boxes unclassified and stored offsite?

I pose this question after sitting through training on how to track our records. I kept saying where is the “complete” picture of what an organization has? I have never been surprised when an organization is frustrated with finding information and they want to work on half of the picture. They want to find information more quickly and want it accessible, but they ignore some of the obvious RIM questions like how long do you need to keep it and who has rights to that information. And, oh by the way, is there a paper version of this same information? Do you want to put the same value around that and make it findable and accessible?

I know, I know you are saying there are more questions than answers in this blog, but I would like to start a conversation that doesn’t ignore half of the story for a company. As RIM professionals, we need to develop programs that are inclusive of issues, characteristics, mediums, processes, controls, etc. or we are only doing a portion of what needs to be done – half the picture. Companies create and receive information in different ways. Workers use and review information differently. I for one, print large documents when I need to review them. I don’t like reading large documents on screen, especially if I have to reference back to sections throughout my review. After I have printed the document and made notes on it, it is a new record. Right? That is what we teach employees today. So our programs cannot ignore one medium and focus exclusively on a single medium type.

Another question is why do you have multiple formats? If you have an electronic format, why do you print? If you have paper, why do you convert it to a microform? All of these questions that need answers.