Attending the recent TRIM User Forum provided an opportunity to hear first-hand industry stories and practices that are instrumental in increasing EDRMS adoption rates both from vendors and TRIM user sites.

Reflecting on those conversations it is apparent that one of the difficult times in implementing an EDRMS strategy is at the point of actually operationalizing the strategy. That is, the stage where the technical configuration is in place and you know what you want to achieve, and now you are at the detail stage of action planning the what, when, who and how of actually implementing the strategy.

#1. Find the low hanging fruit

Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) supporting your EDRMS program with statements such as, “To show my full support our office will lead the way. We’ll take our high profile processes and make them fully electronic first” are to be applauded and feared at the same time.

Applauded because they demonstrate the positive leadership necessary for the rest of the executive team to follow for project success. Feared because the processes found in the CEO’s office are likely to relate to vital records. If the process conversion is unsuccessful in any way, the risk impact on the business is high.

Thank the CEO profusely for their support and respectfully suggest while you will use their support publically within the organisation to garner support, you will work through the processes in the CEO’s office when the organisation has been able to master what is required to effectively implement an EDRMS using lower risk processes.

It is still important however, that while you are mastering the requirements of an effective EDRMS strategy implementation that you also make an impact. You need to find the low hanging fruit which are those processes which contribute greatly to the goal of the EDRMS implementation and are relatively easy to do. Don’t attempt those which are difficult to do even if they do contribute greatly to the goal as they need advanced planning and skills from yourself and the process owners. They will benefit greatly from being further along your learning curve in increasing adoption of the EDRMS.

Finding the low hanging fruit is a two stage process.

  1. Brainstorm what processes may benefit from using the functionality of the EDRMS to improve productivity and reduce risk.
  2. Evaluate the processes against their level of contribution to the goal of the EDRMS implementation and the level of difficulty in implementing them well given your current experience and skills.

#2. Don’t be an electronic purist

If you want to scare the business off using an EDRMS then by all means put forward a complex set of changes requiring vision by the business to transform inefficient high risk manual processes into a fully electronic process. Your audience is likely to be overwhelmed and not confident they can make the required level of change. People confronted with overwhelming decisions will find it easier to decline your offers of improvement.

It is much better to break down the process into chunks with a clear start and finish. Registering documents in electronic format is chunk one. It can usually be easily achieved and bring significant benefits. Chunk two, such as automating registration, will benefit by waiting because you’ll now be able to have intelligent conversations with process owners which will translate into better outcomes.

In addition, if the re-engineered process does not comply completely with traditional physical records management principles but is a major improvement on existing processes don’t be so pure in your approach to reject the opportunity to improve over the impossible dream of perfection.

#3. Engage the business

Educate the senior executives and managers about the business benefits of an EDRMS by using the language of business when talking about the EDRMS. This means as records management professionals or EDRMS administrators we have to learn the language of business and be able to recognise how the functionality of an EDRMS can reduce risk and improve productivity.

For example, use the language of return on investment and its component parts. Use the language of process re-engineering and risk assessment, evaluation and treatment. Engage the business around their specific issues and their specific processes, not around issues of compliance with regulation and principles of records management.

#4. Up-skill the records management team

Major EDRMS adoption improvement projects are more likely to require a devolved model of providing support. To be successful with these projects, records staff need to work closely and deeply with staff within the business to deliver on the promise of improved business processes that result in improved productivity and reduced risk.

The demands of the business to manage information are not static and to deliver on the ever increasing breadth of these demands and the promise of improved productivity and reduced risk, the records management team need to continuously improve their skills in areas such as:

  • Influencing and communicating skills
  • Risk management
  • Leveraging EDRMS functionality for business outcomes
  • Integration with process improvement software
  • Defining and illustrating business processes
  • Understanding and identifying return on investment.

#5. Harness experience and expertise

The cost of rolling out an EDRMS to several thousand users is an expensive exercise, costing millions of dollars. The returns can be several times the cost. It is not a time to be arrogant about your team’s skills, or determined to save costs by using only existing staff. Those returns can only materialise when you have depth in a broad range of EDRMS project expertise. It is important that a rigorous and honest self-assessment is done on the talent available to ensure that skills are truly available. Benchmark your team against the talented people in the industry that you know and determine your strength in:

  • EDRMS Project management (and not IT project management)
  • Change management (especially communications skills)
  • Electronic Records management
  • Business process knowledge or business process facilitation
  • Transforming learning and development into performance.

If the rigorous self-assessment reveals that you are short of true skills in any of these areas, engage some experts in the field. Many organisations benefit from input from experts into structure, with delivery supported by some coaching and guidance on execution.