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Role of the Records Manager in a large organization

By Cynthia Perry posted 22 days ago


Hi all, I work for a large manufacturing organization (20K + employees) where Records Management currently falls under the Legal function.  Recently, as our primary source of records retention moves from paper to electronic, one of the higher ups voiced her opinion that the records management function may no longer be necessary.  Her reasoning is that it is becoming an IT function. In addition, there are other roles within the organization whose duties may overlap the records manager tasks - for instance, compliance officer, privacy office, etc.

I disagree with this reasoning.  Okay, as records manager, maybe I am biased, but I still believe that records management is a necessary role and is needed to work as a partner with IT to help develop strategies and ensure compliance with company policies and requirements.  

So, I am trying to come up with a rebuttal, but I want to use real world examples.  Can any records manager out there provide examples of what types of duties they perform, your organization size and what, if any, stakeholders you may interact with?



20 days ago

Cynthia, These are deeper waters than most understand.  First, there is no question that RM expertise is critical to any organization, and unique associated skill sets exist.  IT is an enabler, but RM is also an enabler of business outcomes.  Compliance is not an end game.  Of course, compliance is absolute, but if approached incorrectly, it will be self-defeating for the company.

More important than where the RM function is located, is a proper alignment with data management, knowledge management, information management, process management, IT, and legal.  Synergy, efficiency, and alignment of these functions will produce optimum situational awareness and decision-making by senior leadership.

In my current role at US DOD's Joint Staff, the Records Officer reports directly to me.  She has RM oversight of the Chairman's staff, as well as 11 other 4-star commands around the world (~>30K people.)  Legal is a partner.  Our IT is a service provider (we actually have multiple providers due to having 3 separate networks.)  I've been in this role for 15 years and counting. Our Chief Data Officer is a new position aligned under a different directorate.  I am in constant communication with her.

Next month, unless something goes awry, I will become the Records Officer for the Department of Defense, an organization of nearly 3 million military and civilian personnel.  I will support a large network of records officers throughout the department.  The position is located in the DOD CIO's office.  A new DOD records strategy is imminent and gets at the blend between the various functions discussed above.  Don't know if this will be my opus or my Waterloo, but these are the ideas (and internal marketing burden) I'll take with me.

We're all chewing on different parts of the information elephant.  We're an orchestra that needs to be led.  If there is no conductor, we will need to listen to each other and learn to speak each others' information dialects focusing on the good of the organization when we speak and act as one team. (Apologies for the mixed metaphors!)

This will be a busy month for me, but I am happy to have a conversation to brainstorm and take these ideas deeper if it will be helpful to you.

Either way, best of luck!  If the stars align, I'll be at the conference in April and we can talk there too.  Meanwhile, Teams works to meet virtually.

21 days ago

Hi Cynthia, I may not be replying exactly to your question but usually, this role is usually under the Information Management department in Organisations where you have an IT / IM department. Hope this helps