Successful engagement for records and information management projects September 25, 2014

This week we had our regular EDRMS implementers group meeting. As usual, a great group of people turned up from a wide range of organisations.

Everyone is at various stages of implementing an EDRMS/ECM system, and many are responsible for a broader range of information management systems. A general theme in the group is a shift away from a monolithic and integration-heavy approaches and towards prioritised approaches.

Today, we were talking about how records and information managers can successfully engage their organisations’ staff with their initiatives. There was a lot of pragmatic discussion about influencing those with the biggest compliance burdens and the most critical or valuable functions. People emphasized the importance of direct engagement to establish exactly how the individuals work and how it best suits them to manage information. A number of useful approaches were presented and discussed by the group.

Targeted surveys on users’ preferred tools and technologies.

One organisation was heading toward standardisation on a widely used, generic information management platform. The EDRMS team knew that a number of their key functions had successfully incorporated EDRMS into their processes. They conducted a survey which found that those teams vastly preferred their existing EDRMS-enabled processes to expanded use of the generic information management platform.

Process evaluations with operational staff

We have several organisations with very widely dispersed geographic locations that need to figure out where records and information management solutions could be most usefully incorporated. To get a comprehensive understanding of what their users thought, one team conducted some broad surveys, but also conducted in-depth in person work process observations and interviews to validate those findings and get a better sense of factors such as training requirements.

Sharing implementation and training resources with other government organisations.

Several attendees observed that many of the challenges that occur during implementation are common across government, and that there is a real opportunity to share resources such as training materials and implementation plans for adaptation and/or reuse. They noted that for various reasons this doesn’t often occur within government. Attendees also noted that documentation such as solution architectures, data models and process specifications for common systems would be extremely helpful if shared. Attendees at the group were extremely enthusiastic about sharing training, implementation and solution documentation using the group collaboration space.

Standardisation on agreed tools and technologies.

The pressure to standardise on particular tools and technologies was seen as having both positive and negative implications by the group. With implementations commonly being done on a government cluster basis, this provides the scale to develop high-quality implementation resources and comprehensive planning for the thousands of users involved, as well as the scale to provide good quality ongoing technical and user support. However, downsides include application rationalisation affecting niche business areas, and the requirement for a major scale project if the cluster wishes to upgrade and take advantage of new features and system interoperability available in new versions.

Analysing usage statistics.

A typical monolithic EDRMS/ECM system has often meant that evaluations turn to overall usage statistics to determine success. Several attendees discussed how their KPI’s were measures like number of helpdesk calls or number of documents put into a system. Other organisations noted that their implementations were judged on user and outcomes-focused measures such as reduction or elimination in manual steps for high priority processes, or rationalisation of repositories for high value or high risk information. There was agreement that quantitative measures can be helpful, but that there is a need to make sure it is the right questions being answered.

Consideration of public sensitivities and outcomes when undertaking information risk assessments.

Lots of the considerations we were discussing were internal to the organisation: how do we help our organisation be more effective in managing information, how do we help identify processes that could be improved, how do we implement tools that are seen to reduce risks and add value. But we also discussed our role in meeting the expectations of our organisation’s clients. Privacy impact assessments and awareness of commercial sensitivities are a growing area of responsibility, and are a particular priority for a number of attendees who are implementing cloud based systems managing information from the time it is received in an online form until the time it can be legally destroyed. Attendees discussed the need to make pragmatic risk assessments of systems which addressed the uncertain factors while acknowledging positive factors such as the superior system support and security architecture potentially available in cloud-based systems.

The group members employ varied, pragmatic approaches to help their colleagues be more effective and to meet the expectations of the public. We are intending to expand on some of these approaches in more detailed blog posts in the coming months.


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