This article appeared in the November, 2012 issue of IQ – the Records and Information Management Professionals Australasia (RIM) Quarterly magazine. To download, click here: Transform your EDRMS outcomes
In every records manager’s heart there is a vision. It is of an audience within their organisation that embraces using the EDRMS. It is of managers happily opening their doors to discuss how to manage records better. It is of receiving a pat on the back from the CEO for securing the information of the organisation, and making everyone’s work life easier.
For many managers the vision is just a light at the end of a long, dark tunnel of challenge, but for some managers there is actually some reality in the vision. They have, and continue to, transform notions of information and records management from a world of archiving fitting with the previous century and to be avoided, to one immersed in today’s digital world where records and information management is everyone’s responsibility and which is desirable.
Developing a framework in which to design and develop the approach to this transformation and reduce the failure rate of EDRMS projects has been our quest over the last three years. We started with the REX Project with Ausgrid (formerly EnergyAustralia) and believed we had the seeds of an approach even before RIM Professionals Australasia rewarded the project with the J Eddis Linton Award (Most Outstanding Group) for excellence and innovation in records management in 2010.
Quantitative research supported by RIM Professionals Australasia, conducted in 2011 with 107 organisations, confirmed some of our thoughts and revealed new paradigms which we presented at the 2011 inForum conference and published, in part, in iQ magazine.
The research gave us and the records and information community significant insights into successful and unsuccessful EDRMS projects and the beginnings of a model for transformation, but not enough to translate into a model of practice. We selected 20 of the original 107 organisations to represent a cross-section of the industry, and included equally those who achieved success in their project, and those who were deemed to have failed. They participated in further qualitative and quantitative analysis to find out the detail of the structure and execution of their project that underpinned their results. The end result of our research is the Transformation Model of Practice.
The Transformation Model of Practice is a non-linear model, and it is crucial to understand that as a key principle. There are not six steps to this model which, if taken in sequential order equal success. It is a model of practice, which applied to an organisation’s
particular environment, creates successful individual adoption of the EDRMS and good records and information management
practices. The components each team focuses on improving, to maximise adoption within their environment, is dependent on the
motivators and blockers to transformation in the organisation and the culture of the organisation.
We can take the Strategic Planning component as an easy example. Unequivocally and not unexpectedly, strength in strategic planning is of benefit regardless of organisation size particularly in driving Executive Leadership. However a small organisation with less than 100 end users is likely to be weak in the strategic planning component and still achieve the strength of leadership that will carry the project to success. But our research shows it is critical for an organisation of over 500 end users to demonstrate strength in Strategic Planning.
Although we have much more analysis to do and will conduct further research there are some interesting qualitative observations we can make now.
The flow-on impact of good practice
As stated the components of the Transformation Model are inter-related, not sequential. Implementing good practice in one component and/or element will have a flow-on positive impact on another component. This knowledge empowers the records
team to build a strategic approach to increased adoption.
Let’s say you undertake the diagnostic and the results indicate Executive Leadership within your organisation is weak. you may
be generally strong in project capability and skill development, as many organisations are, but the lack of willing engagement
by Leaders is a root cause of low adoption. you need to achieve these outcomes:
- Active sponsors who believe the EDRMS benefits the business
- Nomination from the Executive of managers to engage with the project team
- Participation by business units in meetings about the project.
What are your options? At present many records managers (RM) are flummoxed. They ask for support, explain the importance, and still don’t get it from the Executive. At first you may think that you’d need to work on improvements in the area of Executive Leadership, but the diagnostic analysis shows how the outcomes are achieved by operating in other components.
Look closely at the drivers from the Transformation Model of Practice in Table 1, and examine the outcomes of harnessing these to drive prioritisation by the Executive. Select the practice that provides the outcome that is a priority for you, and is most
practical to apply in your organisation. For maximum impact add all to your strategic plan and take the steps to implementing
them over a defined time period.Note: If one of the three desired outcomes is not listed as being positively or negatively impacted, then you can assume that current research data indicates the drivers in the left hand column have no impact on that specific outcome.
The at-risk demographic
The research provides us with the following demographic information: industry type, size of organisation, required number
of end users and number of operating locations. Early analysis of these demographics has revealed a general industry risk
and a project team behavioural risk to achieving high individual adoption rates of the EDRMS.
To us, it is self-obvious that larger implementations are likely to need a more structured approach to implementing an EDRMS,
but what is the point at which the number of targeted end users becomes a major project risk factor. The research to date has
revealed this to be greater than 500. Although a structured approach with a high level of planning may be in place, the evidence points to, for example, a strong trend to a much higher level of disagreement on the objectives of the project, which is not evident in projects with a targeted number of end users below 500. These projects are less stable overall than smaller projects.
Perhaps surprisingly, an increased number of locations do not appear to lead to general weakness within the Transformation Model. This does not mean that these projects are not inherently more challenging to run and deliver results; just that it does not inhibit creating the best possible model of practice on which to run them.
Finish what you start
At the project team level, analysis of several variables reveals that project teams tend not to follow through on the actions required
to cement in place the activities which we know drive adoption levels. For example, of the teams (54%) which provided templates
for business units to undertake their own file planning, 38% do not equip their people with the skills and knowledge to use the
templates. It is excellent that there are an increasing number of organisations recognising that a successful devolved model of
records management is necessary for EDRMS uptake, but it is time that 100% recognised the need to follow through actions to final outcomes. Half-baked approaches lead to increased frustration and disillusionment within a records team, and from the business units, and may be more damaging than taking no action at all.
In the months leading up to inForum 2013 we will continue the research to validate the Transformation Model of Practice. With
increased data we will uncover the relationships between the elements of the model and the industry demographics (such as
size and diversity), so that a weighting can be applied to each element. This will better inform the industry on what is critical
for an EDRMS Transformation Model of Practice in each type of environment.