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We all recognise that things move quickly, the technology we have today will be surpassed swiftly by innovative solutions.  Diversity of digital channels for social interaction and communication are expanding rapidly and being adopted in business environments.

Digital formats

Many of these channels are relatively young compared to mobile phones, email and other portable devices… Many of these channels are relatively young compared to mobile phones, email and other portable devices…




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It is fascinating to look at preparations for change in administration from the Obama Presidency to the next. It illustrates the level of adoption of social channels as a means to engage people.  President Obama used a variety of channels extensively.  Over his 8 year period in office the White House used Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube. Medium, Tumblr and Flickr.  You might find these articles describing the social media aspects of the Presidential Transition and plans to preserve and pass on the digital legacy of this group an interesting read. Another recent article outlines comments from Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes relating to economic changes stemming from technological advances.  He cites an example relating to 2.5 million people driving cars as a significant part of their job, saying “Those jobs are all going away whether it takes 10 years, 15 years or 20 years, it doesn’t matter”.   We have also seen “disruption” through establishment of innovative online services (e.g. AirBnB, Uber). While comments about workforce and industrial changes may sound gloomy, it also provides opportunity for innovation, highlighting the need to think differently about our work – to be “change ready”. How can we think differently about technology in our professional world? Electronic document and records management systems (EDRMS) have been implemented over the last 20+ years as “a” means to manage information. Many of these products are born from systems that managed paper records.  They may be integrated with other business systems if the funding and executive sponsorship exist. Changes we are seeing in the social media realm extend into the broader business environment, with documents generated by multiple business systems and a workforce that is much more mobile. Some options to manage the information generated might include:

  • Using an EDRMS as a single tool to manage documents and records
  • Capturing records created by other business systems in an EDRMS, either as an export or a manual process
  • Integrating with business systems to capture and manage records via an EDRMS for recordkeeping purposes
  • Managing records within source business systems

Not an exhaustive list, but some of the approaches we see across the range of organisations we work with. Issues Sticking with EDRMS as a single tool is becoming less and less practical:

  • Business models are less stable – frequent organisational change, services may be provided through third parties, outsourced or privatised
  • Organisations implement an array of systems to manage core business functions
  • Business systems may have some of the features expected from a recordkeeping perspective, but they seldom have all the functionality required to meet recordkeeping standards.
  • Exporting information from or integrating with business systems is often complex, expensive, takes time to plan and implement.

In a fast paced business environment there is little tolerance for projects take a long time to implement – agility is needed. To quote one of my favourite songs by Queen – I want it all and I want it now. So where are the opportunities? There is definitely potential to manage our information by design, looking at the broad information architecture within organisations to:

  • Focus on work processes and the information created
  • Identify information assets, where they are and how they are managed (beyond EDRMS)
  • Take a risk and value based approach, applying our scarce resources to mitigate and control risks
  • Influence early through established frameworks:
    • Business planning, risk assessment and management
    • Procurement processes, contract and project management
    • Ensuring system requirements address recordkeeping requirements, assessing their level of compliance as part of system acquisition or upgrade
    • Information security, privacy and access arrangements
    • Information governance and other communities of practice

Taking a “by design” approach beyond EDRMS might include:

  • Developing simple tools to assist non-specialist staff to navigate requirements as part of their business and system planning activities
  • Designing self-assessments for business systems to identify risks and mitigation strategies
  • Information management plans fit for purpose – for simple or complex systems, guidance on migration or decommissioning

Traditional approaches are changing, as professionals we can add value to management of information across operations, providing guidance as part of business processes and systems – by design. About the author Toni Anderson has worked in the information and records management field for a substantial period in a range of Local, State, Commonwealth government organisations and the private sector, nationally and internationally, building a strong professional profile through participation in industry forums and associations. Toni has extensive experience in strategic planning, development of records and information management frameworks, policy and procedures, business classification schemes, retention authorities, the specification of requirements, selection of enterprise content and records management systems to meet business needs, implementation of a broad range of software products and associated change management.  Toni has been instrumental in transitioning from project to business as usual operations, and leading teams providing high quality information services.