Please don't call me a Records Keeper. I hate that title. Hate it, hate it, hate it. You can train a monkey to be a Records Keeper. In fact, if your consultant identifies himself as a Records Keeper, fire him and hire a monkey. The monkey will work for bananas and they're hilarious to have around the office. Trust me on this one.
I am a Records Manager. I do what Records Managers have done for hundreds of years: I support the management of information throughout its lifecycle. That means I’m there when a piece of information is created; I’m there when it’s distributed and used; I’m there when it’s stored; and I’m there when it is destroyed. That’s records management.
Admittedly, things have gotten a great deal more complicated over the last quarter-century or so for those of us in my chosen profession. Technology has been both a blessing and a curse. It’s brought us explosive growth in the information we must manage, but it’s also made our role that much more critical to the success of those organizations we serve.
Nowhere is this truer than it is with respect to the defensible disposition of records. It is our most fundamental responsibility as Records Managers and the most important service we provide. It is the reason for all the effort we put into researching and documenting retention and disposition requirements. It is the reason we fret over proper records classification and effective declaration strategies. It is what Legal Counsel is expecting from us and what the IT Department is counting on us for. For you Star Trek fans out there, defensible records disposition is the Prime Directive of our profession.
Because of this, we are blessed (or possibly cursed) with the ability to easily determine how effectively we are doing our job: we can simply calculate how much content was defensibly destroyed at our organizations this year and compare it to how much was destroyed last year.
But Don, information governance is an extremely complicated practice; is it really as simple as that? Well, yes. Practicing law is extremely difficult, but you wouldn’t hesitate to ask a lawyer how many cases she’s won in the last 12 months. Nor would you be reluctant to ask a pitcher how many games he won last season. Simply put, defensible disposition is our profession's win/loss record.
So ask your Records Manager to provide you with that statistic, but please be fair. A colleague once told me (and I really wish I could take credit for this, but I can’t), ‘Records deposition is like sex in high school, everybody talks about it, but nobody is actually doing it.’ It is very possible your organization destroyed very little or even no content over the last year. The deluge of newly created information combined with a very litigious business climate has made everyone reluctant to destroy just about anything. Even many Records Managers.
Unfortunately, I see this far more than you might imagine, so be prepared to accept it. But only accept it with the caveat that you will ask for the same statistic one year from now. At that point, if you don’t see a marked increase in the volume of the content destroyed at your organization, it might be time to invest in a couple of crates of bananas. #ElectronicRecordsManagement #InformationGovernance #DefensibleDisposition #Records-Management