A Holistic Approach To Records Management

Data Backup, Record Storage, & Shredding

The Benefits of a Holistic Approach to Records and Information Management (RIM) or, Simplicity Isn’t Easy

Today my team and I were invited to present a global records management program to 10 senior managers – procurement, HR, legal, compliance, IT, Internal Auditing were all well-represented – from a 400,000-employee company with 120,000 users of desktops. The presentation took about 3 hours.

In this post and some subsequent ones, I’d like to share some thoughts about corporate records management today.

Today, I’d like to stress why, as a relatively small firm, we were even invited to meet with this large global enterprise:

In short, we have a comprehensive, holistic vision for the management of corporate information. This vision may not be realized by a tool like a software program; rather, it’s an outgrowth of a philosophy that is neither common nor likely to adopted by most firms:

  • Simplicity makes for robust, efficient, and effective records management
  • Simplicity is not easy to achieve. It takes will, and it takes herding cats from different silos to agree to corporate goals; that is, it takes leadership.

However, when an errant email or physical document can cause vast liability for an enterprise, leadership is necessary.

We stressed today the importance of co-locating physical records – at least, those that could legally be moved – that are currently found in more than 90 countries for this firm. This approach raised some eyebrows – ‘won’t that cost a lot’ was one question we heard – but I’d like to suggest why we feel the approach has integrity:

When lots of people can touch a record, there’s a higher likelihood that a problem will happen. When you minimize procedural discretion, when you minimize the handlers of the record, when you minimize the ‘cooks in the kitchen’ – you can make the claim that your system is best-in-class.

However, when you let too many of your employees access your records (in today’s case, there are 1500 records MANAGERS in the organization!) – much less third-party service providers – there are a million ways things can go wrong.

Keep it simple when you envision how to keep things straight. (I often think about David Allen’s A-Z filing system formulation in this regard.)

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Over the years and through dozens of discussions about off-site records storage, our management team consistently heard a common set of frustrations from the administrators, records managers and controllers we met with. We came to one important conclusion. These problems were not only valid, they were completely avoidable.

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