What do Turkey and Email have in Common? (I like 'em both!)

By Julie Colgan posted 12-03-2010 17:36


Sorry for the unplanned hiatus … the holiday last week took me to the Outer Stretches, aka the Land of No Wi-fi. 

Wi-fi or not, I found myself thinking through the theme of the season.  Besides thoughts of the fun of seeing extended family, eating (a lot of) turkey and delicious home-made treats while giving thanks for all of the blessings in our lives, why not think about some of the things I’m thankful for in my professional life?  

Our profession has been around a long time (at least 50 years, and perhaps thousands, depending on your perspective), and over those many years we have seen the profession progress – sometimes in reaction to shifts in business, advances in technology, and sometimes due simply to smart people being innovative and advancing the profession as a result of no other impetus than their passion and dedication for what we do. 

So, here are three of my favorites:

1. Email

Yes, I know email is often the bane of the records manager; a wild and unruly beast that resists taming.  So why am I so fond of it?  Email has long been a struggle for IT to deal with due to the weight it places on our systems.  Mail servers are for serving mail, not storing mail; yet we all know most email users prefer to do just that – keep them, and keep them where they sit.  However, in many ways it was/is a fantastic point of entry into the management of electronic records.

2. e-Discovery

The changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in December of 2006 threw the legal and IT communities into a tail-spin.  The attempt to address the impact of technological advances on the landscape of discovery was well intentioned, however perhaps not as well informed as it could have been.  The result of the changes include dramatically increased discovery costs and the birth of a new industry complete with specialized technology and specialists to sell it, but it also presents an opportunity for Records Managers to get on the radar of their General Counsels. 

For an organization who has been sued since the amended Rules went into effect, it is likely they have found that they don’t manage electronic information well.  And for those organizations who anticipate at least one future litigation event (pretty much everyone), they are primed to hear from their Records Manager about how the organization can start proactively managing its electronic information in order to contain future litigation costs as well as add to the defensibility of their production. 

So if you haven’t already been asked to assist your organization with information management from the perspective of litigation readiness, now is the time to offer your services.  Legal departments are actively wanting help, however they often go to IT first (and perhaps last and only).  

If you want to familiarize yourself with information management in the context of litigation, spend a little time at the EDRM site – you’ll quickly see where a quality information management program will add significant value to the organization in terms of litigation readiness and defensibility of discovery. 

3. GARP®

And I’ve saved my favorite for last.  For those of you who don’t know about GARP® (the Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles®), please take a few minutes (after you finish reading this, of course) to go and read up – you won’t be disappointed, I promise! 

For years (50, or thousands, right?) our profession has struggled to convince anyone outside of our sacred circle of information management that information management is the bees’ knees.  We preach to the choir every Sunday, and we’re good at that, but we haven’t been very good at outreach – at evangelizing our message out to those who haven’t already drunk the Kool-Aid such as CEOs and legislators, General Counsels and IT leadership.  

[Side bar: As you get to know me you’ll learn that I am homicidal when it comes to clichés – I mix and match relentlessly.  I like to think it’s part of my charm …]   

One of the main reasons we’ve been unsuccessful with increasing the scope of our flock is because we have all been using different messages and different voices.  We didn’t have unity - a unified message that we could spread with a unified voice.  Those days are over.  We finally have clarity of vision and message, and the good folks at ARMA International have written it down! 

In addition to the obvious benefits for practitioners and vendors, the promulgation of the Principles and the associated Maturity Model for Information Governance creates a common language and perspective that can be used by law makers and corporate leaders to understand and discuss the role of Information Governance across markets, verticals, and within their own organizations.  Very exciting! 

Now, as always, I end with a question for you … what else should be on the list?

#ElectronicRecordsManagement #e-discovery #E-mail #garp