I know colleagues who like to tackle the easy stuff first, but I believe in problems. I love them. I try to encounter as many challenges as I can each day because seeing my way through to the other side of every one satisfies me deeply. The more problems I have—the better I feel. But there’s a difference between a problem I can solve and one that I can’t. This one has been festering for a while.
Let’s talk about a problem that all of us Records and Information Managers encounter: the challenge of destruction. The ability for us to destroy records is not a foregone conclusion. Destruction is the result of implementing retention, which is an extraordinarily political thing to accomplish. The effort takes patience and negotiation, to say the least. That’s *if* a Records group is allowed to destroy at all (legal holds, and all that).
So, why aren’t we provided a decent, out-of-the-box destruction report? I’ve yet to use an electronic records management tool (third party or homegrown) that exports a useable one. Have you ever exported a report before? Usually each field used is replicated three times; the date sequence is rough; the subject description may or may not be there; and there are superfluous fields that mean nothing. The reports require a great deal of massaging. Now, if the Records Management group has a collection of over 100,000 boxes offsite or images offline…to massage the reports alone is a huge effort. And remember, Records departments are understaffed right now. The tools we provide to our internal customers are hardly substantive.
I’m appealing to your sense of fair play. Look, it’s hard enough to get to the destruction phase—by the time we do, we’ve passed a huge milestone in implementing a sound Records and Information Management program. To irritate colleagues with a review tool that’s insufficient…it doesn’t signify. So here’s what I do: I follow my friend Adele Carboni’s advice. Permission to destroy may be strongly implied in our literature, but it’s not mandatory. If those records have crossed the dotted line from their purview to mine, I let folks know we’re destroying their records, I check the reference rates on each series, and if there should be objections, I show them how little their boxes have been pulled from offsite or images offline.
If you draw the dotted line, the destruction project doesn’t rot. I’m on my fifth destruction today and let me share with you: they are complicated enough without the peril of insufficient tools. Oh, well—on to the next problem.
#destruction #ElectronicRecordsManagement #retention #records