If we ceded the field to Information Technology back in 2005, it’s our own fault. Most of us want to be policy people only. The statement is less a criticism than just a simple acknowledgement of the facts. Those of us who are crazy enough to try the technical side have a long, lonely, isolated road ahead.

“Love For Sale”

Well, not love, exactly… more like strong negotiation skills. Everyone in your organization is a stakeholder in the new project and you will be tested. In the same vein as, “everyone’s gotta right to be famous,” the perception in your organization will be “everyone’s gotta right to manage their own records.” Which is partially true.

As your records responsibilities grow, so will your awareness of the subtle nuances in corporate culture. Negotiating for a development environment to nurture your product as well as the Records Administrator role in production is a delicate entreaty to the Information Technology department that is side tracked often by the vague argument of moral authority.

Viewed objectively, it’s a fascinating negotiation, because it’s as much an internal struggle as an external one. On the one hand, Information Technology does not want to be in the content management business; on the other, Information Technology is not prepared to share its administrative authority. Meanwhile, Records Management has the education and training to build the application’s records services, but isn’t given the autonomy to construct it or quality-assure the build if Information Technology assembles it.

Hence, no one knows whether or not retention works until it doesn’t (and by the way: it never does on the first eligibility run. Usually it’s a database problem.). 

This is why the executive sponsor is a tremendous advantage for everyone.

“In a Silent Way”

Any executive sponsor is appreciated; a good executive sponsor is a talisman.

It’s their job to explain the culture to you. As trying as these times are in the electronic records management implementation, you must always see the stakeholder’s side. This perspective is accompanied by a healthy dose of fear: fear that at any time your implementation may grind to a screeching halt.

No matter how much you prepare, you run a real risk that your organization may not be ready. But if you call upon your records logic and you’ve got a good talisman to look up to, you will earn the respect of your stakeholders.

Image courtesy of emin kuliyev (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: To read more from Mimi's Electronic Records Management series, check out An Electronic Records Management Implementation Journal: Month Two