Your electronic records management project is planned down to the last detail. In month two, it's time to distribute the message throughout your organization that this implementation needn't be a huge strain on the organization’s resources.
You can drive a project for minimal attention — including 1:1 training during the maintenance phase — and storage resources. The trick is, when you get the opportunity to express how agile an e-records implementation project can be, are you conveying the best information?
The Deep Dive Dos and Don’ts
The medium of PowerPoint is mind-numbingly boring. Usually, content delivered in PowerPoint lacks complexity. Instead, I like one-page summaries that are terrifically layered, require attention and promote Q&A sessions.
To achieve that layering effect, deep dive into the cultural pool. It doesn't matter if you are hired to maintain Records and Information Management services or you are hired to create a new department — I recommend spending a goodly amount of time culling baseline data for the executive presentation from your discussions with business units.
This is Records 101, of course. But what if your culture doesn't allow you to introduce yourself to the business units; indeed, you must wait to be invited? A different approach is required: sensitivity and patience. Take advantage of the annual destruction cycle. Waiting can be hard, especially when the organization isn't accustomed to annual destruction, but it’s a great platform to advertise and launch services.
Proceed with caution. Of course you want to know all of the Director’s pain points, but these are intensely “personal” questions. Remember: never, ever, introduce yourself with a “Hi, my name is ____. How can I help?” or start a question with, “Why…?”
Meanwhile, over-communicate with your IT department. Include them in your preparations. Capture their voice and include their concerns in your executive summary.
Also, consider objectively your own house: what good ideas have you had lately? Are all the policies in place to begin your project? Has all the records-awareness training been delivered? What micro-steps should be accomplished in order to begin Step 1 of your electronic records implementation?
The Big Heat Map o’ Trouble
Speaking with directors across the organization can be very messy. I consider the organization’s needs to be like a summary of parts that create a heat map of trouble. Heat maps can be linear or scattered; it depends on the culture of your organization. Your objective is to untangle your thoughts. The project’s agility depends upon your nimbleness.
My one-page executive summaries tend to be formatted to the 11 x 17 paper size. They may be resource calendars, they could be high-level department status updates, sometimes they’re architecture and governance roadmaps.
Whatever the content, they reflect the latest deep dive. Typically my first six versions are like improv — 98% is completely unusable. By number seven, the whiteboard and I hit a groove.
So, presentation time. My script is edited to a sharp edge and memorized to boot. In the first two minutes, I emphasize how few resources are required for a sizeable return (if there’s room on the page, the math is in a legend in the corner of the executive summary). I am always stopped at this point by at least one incredulous dissenter — that’s ok, I know my way back. I've memorized all of my project templates, but I have them there in a binder, in case I need to distribute one or more.
One by one, the script (and the minutes!) tick by. That’s ok, I've given this speech to my kitchen, then a conference room, then THE conference room the day before and the morning of at least 50 times altogether. I know I’ll improvise at some point — maybe early in the presentation — or perhaps the audience may be more fickle day of? — but I know my way back. The heat map is the focal point.
So, What Next?
Depends. Were you approved to begin? Or have you been invited to provide more justification and return at a later date? Is there a policy left to write before project kickoff? What must you do to prepare for the next executive presentation? Ensure you build time in to your project schedule for critical, freestyle thinking. Be your harshest critic, a tough road is ahead.
Editor's Note: Looking for Step One in Mimi's Implementation Journal? An Electronic Records Management Implementation Journal: Month One
About the Author
Mimi Dionne is a records and information management project manager and Consultant/Owner of Mimi Dionne Consulting. She is a Certified Records Manager, a Certified Archivist, a Certified Document Imaging Architect, a Certified Information Professional, and a Project Management Professional. She currently resides in Seattle.