By the second month of your electronic records management (ERM) implementation, the project plan has been curtailed several times. It happens regardless of your industry or the company you work for. Despite the beauty, simplicity and elegance of your critical path, one or more surprises will suddenly appear.

Typically, it’s one or all of the following three scenarios:

  • Information Technology cannot provide enough storage to kick off the project,
  • Administrative assistants claim that applying retention is too constrictive to their ways of working, and/or
  • Departments quarrel over the moral authority to manage their own content and records.

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An ERM implementation is like a cadre of jazz musicians: each player must negotiate their own agenda through their own instrument to create a great sound ensemble. Moral authority to play the most notes doesn’t enter the argument. 

Sure, if you’re a member of The Miles Davis Quintet, you know Miles Davis is the highlight of the piece, but John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley will solo, too (and later become great leaders in their own right).

“Some Day My Prince Will Come”

The field is changing. Today, Records Managers want to be known as Directors of Information Governance. The title is considered more C-level to Records Management because it encompasses much more than the basic storage step of the records life cycle: responsibilities may include e-discovery, content management, records management or information security.

Many records colleagues are placing their professional hopes that this trend has some teeth to it, as if it instantly guarantees new opportunities achieved through the osmosis of re-titling.

“Half-Nelson”

We’ve spent the past ten years struggling through ERM implementations -- very few of us have implemented -- and it’s partly due to our lack of technical skill. The other part is our lack of drive.

I’ve informally interviewed several members of more than one Records and Information Management-related discipline and their admitted reticence to learn the technical skills needed to implement e-records surprised me. It’s the strangest dichotomy: they acknowledge they don’t have the proper skills, but they don’t want to learn them anyway.