Why Empowerment Is Job One Of Information Governance

By Jeffrey Lewis posted 02-17-2014 20:52


I am glad that my job title is “Records Management Program Manager” and not “Records Manager.”  The problem with “Records Managers” is they perpetuate the problem that records management is the job of an individual or a department.  Records management, when done right is a corporate responsibility.  I have been seeing the term “empowerment” everywhere lately.  It is the name of annual Laserfiche conference and also the Super Bowl commercial campaign for Microsoft. To make records management a corporate responsibility we need to ensure people are empowered to get the highest return on investment of information.


I love the Microsoft empowering commercial because in one sense it shows where our organizations are with the consumerization of IT.  Employees today are becoming IT experts and finding new and more efficient ways to use technology, whether it be via the cloud, their own mobile device or different collaboration resources.  We have a choice to either put up all types of barriers for the sake of security to hinder them (which they will just find a way around) or we can empower them to use the tools they have at their disposal.  Doing this involves making sure we are networking outside of our normal records management circles, but also making sure that we are growing in knowledge for other information management domains such as information security and compliance.


On the Empower website, they have a quote from Karl Tan, Chief Technology Officer, that should be on the bulletin board of every information governance worker.  He states, “To succeed today, you need to get your hands on all of the information relevant to your business—regardless of where it’s stored or how it’s transmitted.”  If you survey those in your organization, the majority if asked if they want to manage records will answer in the negative.  No one wants to manage records, but everyone manages information even though they may not call it that.  Information management is the key to getting work done and is the framework for people how individuals manage their e-mail in-boxes and sort the work they have to do.  Without information management, everything is chaos.  We need to give people the tools to manage all information, not just records, so that they any business materials they need, regardless of if they are working with ESI, paper records or from a mobile platform is protected from breaches, readily available and in compliance with applicable regulations.

This is a tall order and requires the ability to make records management simple.  There are several ways we make records management simple.  They are as follows:

1)Automate as many records management processes as possible.  Getting employees to manage records is a large battle, but if technology can be leveraged to OCR information and autocategorize it then a large amount of the fighting is taken care of.

2)Tie business process management to records management.  Records document a business process and show how functions, activities and subactivities are accomplished.  Records management should not happen after a business process is complete, but it should be tied into employees everyday work.

3)Remember no one wants to be a records manager.  If you recruit people to become records managers you will have a lot of draft dodgers.  Instead, promote records management initiatives as ways to make people work with information more efficiently and effectively.  If different people identify the same document as different document types then it is unrealistic that best practices will be followed for the quickest results to search for and retrieve information.  


4)Seek to make allies with both technology and users: This goes hand in hand with making people work more efficiently.  If BYOD, cloud and other nonconventional tools can increase employee productivity, then build a business case that allows for users to get work done.  Technology never produces compliance issues or causes security headaches, the problems are always with users and not having policies in place to ensure that users know how to use technology.

I’d love to hear from you in regards to what strategies you use to get employee buy-in for managing records and information.

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