Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Selling top execs on records management

By Mark Brousseau

Every organization, regardless of industry, needs to have a records management policy, and they must have a records manager. Nonetheless, it can be an uphill climb convincing top managers to embrace records management, Kevin Joerling, senior project manager, records management, Perceptive Software, said yesterday at the company’s Inspire 2011 user conference at the Wynn in Las Vegas.

Records and information management is defined as the systematic control of records and information throughout their lifecycle, encompassing creation, use, storage, retention, and disposition. “Retention is where we find many companies are not doing a very good job – knowing how long to keep documents,” Joerling said

And this is an area where companies can waste a lot of money, Joerling said: For every $1 spent on disk storage, $3 to $8 per megabyte is spent on managing that storage, he explained. “In some cases, companies don’t even realize this,” he said.

Joerling said records and information is more important than ever because it: reduces storage costs; organizations information for quick retrieval; facilitates litigation risk avoidance; helps protect information assets; and ensures compliance with recordkeeping laws and regulations. To this last point, Joerling said records management is a key part of an organization’s commitment to risk mitigation.

“Liability lawsuits are often decided on the basis of old records,” Joerling explained. What’s more, the loss of records can have more devastating consequences than the loss of a plant, Joerling said, noting that some companies based in the World Trade Center during 9/11 went out of business because they didn’t have backup records.

So why don’t more top execs embrace records management?

For starters, most top execs don’t understand records management. “Records management is not mainstream yet,” he said. “It’s not taught in too many colleges or universities, so business managers coming out of school don’t understand it.” Many organizations also don’t have a records management professional. “Who’s going to be that champion in your company to go to senior management and say ‘We need to look into this because we could get in trouble by not doing it?’” Joerling asked.

Additionally, records and information management benefits can be difficult to quantify. With tight budgets as a result of the recession, this makes it more difficult to persuade senior management about records and information management.

Joerling offered tips for selling top execs on the need for records management:

1. Describe how records management will solve issues facing your organization.
2. Propose a recommended solution, whether it’s hiring a records manager or records management consultant.
3. Detail what will happen if a records management program is not undertaken.
4. Explain when the records management program will be deployed, and how much money, how much time and how many people will be needed for the program.
5. Keep the discussions at a high level and targeted to c-level core concerns, such as how the program ties into the company’s strategic plan.

“It’s an uphill battle because you’re dealing with something that a lot of executives don’t understand and don’t recognize why it needs to be done,” Joerling admitted. But with the growing importance of records and information management, it’s critical that document professionals convince top execs on the need for a program.

What do you think?

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