Electronic Records Management JournalIt doesn't matter if your industry is highly regulated or not. The Electronic Records Management System (ERMS) implementation is a privilege, not a right. You mustn't take the opportunity for granted.

Keeping on Track

I like to say that I’m blessed with work. Electronic records and information management implementations are unique in the tremendous amount of homework involved. As you lift the mountain, the investment of your time is the best compliment you bestow on your peer group. It’s your way of thanking the organization for aligning the ERM initiative with organizational strategy.

You adhere to a typical agenda (introduction of the agenda, the review exercise, next steps), but you tailor the data for peer review according to the best talents of the audience -- because you know them. The output of that homework may be a vetted information architecture, a summary of objects eligible for deletion or a customized records declaration architecture. It doesn’t really matter what you’re preparing; what matters is your commitment.

"Doing the right thing,” however, can bog your work breakdown structure (WBS) down if you’re not careful.

As you make a serious dent in your WBS, you should keep a separate journal of all your meetings. Yes, I realize it’s a lot to ask, but it’s a necessary investment. Your journal, a document outside the WBS, will provide you and your executive sponsor with context (and years later when you say to yourself, “oh, yeah -- how did we calculate those metrics?” you’ll have a reference for articles like this one). The context is invaluable because if your executive sponsor is a working mid-level manager, the journal is your sounding board, your audience feedback and your vetting process rolled into one.

Capturing the Small Details to Get the Big Picture 

The journal is your opportunity not to confuse motion with action. You’re documenting progress rates with each group and identifying activity deltas: how many groups have identified objects for deletion but not deleted them yet? Or perhaps they’ve designed a library hierarchy but they haven’t migrated the objects?

Bridging the deltas, closing the loops -- it’s the last 15% that leaves you the most vulnerable. Especially if your organization asks you to constantly reframe the project. Marketing and re-marketing the project can pull your attention significantly away from the project … and then you have no choice but to work more hours than Job, right?

I learned to appreciate the ERMS journal in my first implementation. Mine is a daily status update for each team. Some fields include date and time, participants, topics to be covered, whether or not data was submitted for peer review in advance, initial perceptions of the data, meeting minutes, any edits to the content, decisions made or delayed, tasks to be completed by me/them in the short-term and long-term and references to the WBS. Electronically captured, by the way. Don’t be silly.

This journal will provide you with a microcosmic view of Records trends within the macro -- the RIM industry. The oral history of electronic records management implementations is intermittently recorded at best. We should do a better job of that. You can be a hero to your industry by recording your thoughts and project approach. Your success is our success. 

Title image courtesy of tlegend (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: To read more from Mimi's Journal, see the one that started it all -- An Electronic Records Management Implementation Journal: Month One