03 February 2008

Blogs and blogging

The following is the text of an article I posted on the RMS conference blog. (Click on the title for a link)

I'm running a session at the RMS conference on blogs and blogging and the relationship between Web2.0 technologies and records management.

These issues will become increasingly important over the coming year(s) so it's great we will have the space to discuss them, air our views and perhaps even find some agreement on how we move the agenda forward.

The questions I'd like to consider are

  • how useful, interesting and important are blogs/Web2.0 technologies?
  • can we build genuine online communities of interest?
  • is this the start of a new revolution in records/information/knowledge management?

I don't expect everyone to experts in the subject. (I'll even give you a quick overview of how they all work if necessary.) But it should be a lively, interesting and, I hope, important debate for the future of records management...so join us

16 January 2008

The 30 Year Rule

Click on the title of this post to link to a new website set up by The National Archives to discuss the 30 Year Rule under which most government records are transferred to The National Archives and made available to the public by the time they are 30 years old.

The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has said that it is time to look again at whether historical records can be made available for public inspection much more swiftly than under the current arrangements.

What do you think? You can have your say by visiting TNA's website and registering your comments.

Why not register your vote with the poll on the right?

Or you can send me your comments and I'll post them on here.

02 January 2008

Forward into 2008

Happy New Year to you all.

I've been doing a spot of gardening. You'll notice the cooler, snappier design. More of a grown-up website. What do you think?

I'm trying to make this your one-stop shop for advice, information and best practice on records management. Let me know if you find anything you think should be posted here.

All of the video links are now together at the top of the sidebar (the stuff on the right hand side)in the 'Watch this...' folder.

I looked at what the most popular searches were for people visiting this blog. By far the most popular was 'Business Classification Scheme'. You old-fashioned things! So, you'll notice a new sidebar that takes you to some excellent links that cover how to design a BCS. Good luck and happy hunting.

The second most popular search was for 'Retention Schedules'. So again, I've added a sidebar full of useful links to relevant websites. You are also extremely interested in 'Naming conventions' and, therefore, I've added a sidebar to help you find some pertinent posts. Enjoy. Please let me know if you find other interesting links.

I'll keep an eye out for what you're interested in and, where I see a pattern, I'll either draft or publish links to relevant articles. But I'm also going to look out for the latest developments and report them in depth and with a critical eye. There's never been a more exciting time to be a records manager; it's more exhilarating than lion-taming!

Why don't you make 2008 the year when you get involved? I'll be happy to publish anything about records management. It will help if your articles are relevant, informative, interesting and well-written but, hey, there are no hard and fast rules.

Have a great 2008.

24 December 2007

RMS conference 2008

Details of how to book for the RMS 2008 conference in Edinburgh are available.

Click on the title of this post and book early!!

See you there.

Harry Potter talks about ERM

This is quality...hahaha...well done to AIIM.

Please let me know if you see any other gems like this and we'll get the link posted straightaway.

Season's greetings

Season's greetings to everyone. Best wishes for 2008.

This year has been an exciting year for records managers. 2008 promises to be even livelier.

I'm looking forward to grappling with the challenge of Web2.0 technologies. There's lots to do, learn and share. And it's all very exciting. But I think those who predict the rise and rise of Web2.0 and the demise of EDRM systems are a little premature. Having said that, EDRM systems have to evolve to take Web2.0 technologies on board. I'm really looking for seamless integration in my intelligent office.

There is absolutely no way that government departments (whether central, local or NHS) can glibly allow the mass availability of sensitive data. We've got to think about how best we can share information with each other where we can, but keep information confidential where we must.

There's probably a growing need for a shared services initiative. Rather than have a series of independent, isolated EDRM systems we ought to look at how we can share data easily across the web but keep the personal and the sensitive protected. This is more likely to be achieved through the access rights protections of an EDRM system than the free-for-all of Web2.0.

I hate seeing headlines like these...



...so what can we do? Well, as records managers we undoubtedly have a duty of care and that necessarily includes looking at new ways of doing things. We have a lot to consider and 2008 should be the year we all get together to examine how we can best solve the problems we face.

The answer is likely to include new technology; whether it is Web2.0 or interlinked yet independent EDRM systems is debateable. But we also need to get good Information Governance on the agendas of our senior managers.

Yes, 2008 promises to be a lively year.

Best wishes for a healthy, happy and successful year to you all.

Red Kite in Chester.

17 November 2007

Stuff is miscellaneous

Click on the title of this post to go to a groovy link from youtube about the ideas in Everything is Miscellaneous.

I spent an hour and a half the other day trying to persuade one of my users not to create a folder called ''Communications". He wanted somewhere to put all of his emails. I tried to explain that they would be filed better in a relevant subject file...for example the emails about widgets should live in a Widgets file.

Well, we discussed it for a while and then I got to thinking..."does it really matter?" I mean he's the one who works with the information, not me. He's the one who has to find it and use it again, not me.

Should I just let users build whatever file structure they want to build, so long as they can find the stuff they're working on?

Ah, if only it was as simple as that...I don't really think my users can always find the stuff they're working on. Some of them don't like using the Search facilities either...so they email links to each other...the dialogue goes...Hey, where's that document you wrote about "Left-handed widgets"?...Here's the link to it.

They call stuff 'Doc1' and put it in a folder called General which is in a folder called Miscellaneous...and then they tell me my system's garbage cos they can never find stuff.

They aren't ready for everything being miscellaneous yet. They can't even cope with everything being where they left it...or where they want it to be...

16 November 2007

Records managers in the 21st Century

I'm often asked what skills a records manager in the 21st Century needs. I've come up with the following list...it's not exhaustive...I'll probably add to it so keep checking back...and I'd welcome your feedback.

IT literacy

Records managers are increasingly having to deal with EDRM systems, databases, spreadsheets, webpages, Web 2.0 applications etc and so they must have a basic IT literacy at the very least. I would actually recommend that if you want to embark on a records management career that you make sure you understand IT enough to converse with your IT department on equal terms.

Can you get away with not having a basic IT literacy? Well yes, you probably could but do you want to leave the field clear for your IT team?

Information architect

This is particularly relevant if you have an EDRM system. You will need to be able to design and build your business classification scheme (file plan)with all the necessary privileges and access rights.

Managing and maintaining an ERM file plan can be a full-time job.

Project management

Bringing in an ERM system will involve all manner of project management skills. You must be organised, methodical, flexible, determined and ruthless. A basic PRINCE2 qualification isn't absolutely necessary - yet - but it wouldn't do any harm.

My team tell me that I'm a bit of a control freak too... Me? Surely not. I just need to know that everything's perfect. Not too much to ask, is it?

Team player

You are going to have to get your team onside. You'll build confidence, smooth furrowed brows, be a pal, confidante and defender of the faith.

You will develop relationships with suppliers, colleagues and people in other organisations.

Negotiation skills

As a 21st Century records manager you are undoubtedly going to have to discuss and negotiate with every team in your organisation...you must be a good listener but know when to say 'No'!

You will probably also need to persuade your senior management team of the brilliance of your ideas...so shrinking violets need not apply.


Be prepared to polish your drafting abilities. Policies, procedures, training manuals, retention schedules, annual reports, recommendations, business plans, risk management assessments etc etc don't write themselves.


Since we went live on our EDRM system over three years ago I have been, almost constantly, a training officer. EDRM systems are being updated regularly so you never have a shortage of material.

We've had to test the updates, figure out what they do differently, draft training manuals and deliver the training on a very regular basis.

It's been a rewarding but surprising part of what I've had to do.

IG expert

You are going to have to manage your organisation's response to the emerging Information Governance agenda.


You're going to have to be able to audit your organisation's records, your file plan, your IG framework, your compliance with standards, guidance and legal requirements.

Horizon scanner

To keep up with all the latest developments you're going to have to keep an eye on what everyone else is doing, you will need to be able to spot the trends and decide what will work for you and what won't.

Records manager...

Ooops, what was I thinking??? I nearly forgot...you're going to have to manage your organisations records too!!

The records management industry is one of the fastest paced, volatile industries you could join. There are intellectual challenges every day...if you can't handle it why not try something more sedate...lion-taming for example.

12 November 2007

Information governance framework

More and more organisations are looking at systematic ways in which they can manage their information. One way that can make a real difference is by adopting an Information Governance Framework.

Information governance is the way in which an organisation handles, uses and manages its information in an efficient, effective and secure manner to all the approporiate ethical, legal and quality standards.

An Information Governance Framework brings together all the requirements, standards and best practice that apply to the management of information. It can help you assess how well your organisation manages the information it creates.

An Information Governance Framework normally covers the people, processes, policies and systems you need and assesses your attainment levels in each category. The topics covered include:

information governance

information security

information strategy

business continuity

lifecycle management (including retention and disposal scheduling)

staff induction and training

creating and filing paper and electronic records ( in line with ISO 15489)

compliance with legal requirements (e.g. the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act)

conducting regular audits

Your organisation can establish how well (or how badly!) it is managing its records through the application of this simple framework. A regular 'health-check' and commitment to an 'improvement plan' can help your organisation to track its progress.

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