I love the smell of dry-erase markers and whiteboard cleaning solution in the morning … in the afternoons … in the evening … on weekends … in my sleep …

Electronic records management is not for the faint of heart.


The first month of an electronic records management project is comprised exclusively of rigorous pre-planning.  If starting from scratch, it’s not a linear process; it can be a bit 5-steps-forward, 2-steps-back. One day they won’t be, but until then, electronic records management implementations are extremely rigorous and dependent upon the human element.  

Be prepared to accomplish several things at once:

  • Update your organization’s records retention schedule
  • Create project management templates
  • Host status meetings with every functional team in the Information Technology department
  • Learn Advanced VBA for Excel
  • Prepare all training materials
  • Conduct usability training
  • Prepare and circulate the executive-level presentation for peer input

Sleep is for mortals. You’ve got a job to do.

The Records Retention Schedule Update

Retention trumps everything. You, Records Manager, will never drift far away from it; it is your sword, your shield and your Achilles’ heel. An organic records retention schedule is updated at least annually. Do you have the correct elements in place? You know you need to create an implementation map out of the schedule, yes?

Project Management Templates

I design all of my own project management templates, but I depend on PMI.org for inspiration. The site has a wonderful digital library of (somewhat recent) source material available to its members 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  The investment is well worth the expense.

Status Meetings

You absolutely must not be afraid to ask (what you may be afraid are) stupid questions. You must be comfortable enough to think out loud. Your questions are important and thought-provoking. This is a very teachable moment for the entire project team and nothing is too low-brow to propose for consideration. 

Learn Advanced VBA for Excel

Figure out the metadata you’ll need to analyze network file share objects. Run test batches with IT. If your organization does not have powerful tools like TreeSize Pro or SpaceObServer, get ready to perform some manual reporting. These will be very large reports -- too large for manual analysis. I like several VBA books as I undertook my course of study. These are all Kindle editions:

  • Alexander, Michael & John Walkenbach. 101 Ready-to-Use Excel Macros. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons. 2012.
  • Jelen, Bill and Tracy Syrstad. VBA and Macros: Excel 2010. Indianapolis: Que Publishing. 2010.
  • Korol, Julitta. Excel 2010 VBA Programming By Example with VBA, XML, and ASP. Dulles: Mercury Learning and Information. 2011.
  • Lim, Jason. Beginning Excel VBA Programming. Iducate Learning Technologies. 2011.
  • Walkenbach, John. Excel VBA Programming for Dummies. Hoboken: Wiley Publishing. 2010.

Prepare All Training Materials

Last month’s article addressed this somewhat, but it’s time to reboot everything. No one professional association’s definition of a record suffices. Every organization is too unique. There’s a way to uniformly create a revised definition for every organization. Think about it and we’ll compare notes later.

Conduct Usability Training

You can’t be successful without a development environment and human resources to provide you with real-time feedback. I found another wonderful Kindle source, this time on usability testing:

  • Barnum, Carol M. Usability Testing Essentials: Ready, Set, Test! Burlington: Elsevier, Inc. 2011

I prefer smaller studies, myself. I don’t guide the user and my test plans are small. The post-test questionnaires are the most important piece to me, because they provide great input for the Director-level presentation.

Director-Level Presentation

Rely heavily on your quantitative analysis to provide real time statistics on the health of file shares, Outlook, and SharePoint objects. Have your draft policies and WBS ready. Bring your charter and approval documents. Be prepared for any question.

The above are just a few of my lessons learned. Consider these in the order that I’ve provided to you. Good luck and let me know how your project progresses!

Editor's Note: Stay tuned for further reports from Mimi's Electronic Records Management Implementation. In the mean time, check out her Solving Problems With Authority and Sharing: Developments and Prospects #saa12