What Do We Mean by Records Management Program Ownership?

Ownership refers to how information technology and lines of business executives collaborate to establish guidelines on:

  • What constitutes a record to begin with
  • Who the internal champion(s) and/or primary stakeholders are in the project
  • Where records need to be stored along all stages of their lifecycle and when they can be deleted or destroyed, in context with industry and legal standards
  • Why records might need to be collected, held for audit, or made available for evidentiary purposes
  • How to implement your records management plan, be it in incremental phases or as a massive, cross-organizational rollout all at once

In some cases, reading about an RM program makes the process seem like an endless cycle of designing, planning, benchmarking, and more planning. Without an experienced ECM partner, this frustration often comes to fruition as many organizations become mired in the conceptual stages for months or even years. Internal conflict, particularly as the result of poor leadership, can grind progress down to a slow crawl. This is why ownership of a records management program is crucial.

Having representation from key parts of your organization chart can ensure that the RM program has both balanced input and effective results. By empowering a strategic team of business executives with a strong leader who can make actionable decisions on the organization’s behalf, you can reduce much of the chaos that often ensues when you have “too many cooks in the kitchen”. If you are the overall Records Management program manager, you can also delegate responsibility throughout the project to steering committee members, as well as collect ongoing feedback on the adoption of policies and technology solutions.

Finally, owning your Records Management program means having a select team of executives who will be able to share the credit for a successful technology and business process transformation. However, should the project fail, it also means that the project team won’t run for shelter or point fingers — neither at each other nor the perceived inadequacies of technology.

Give Your RM Program a Chance to Pay You Back

Just like a garden needs consistent dedication and care from its gardener in order to grow,, a records management system needs content and stakeholder commitment in order to deliver measurable value over time. There are many significant costs involved with a comprehensive records compliance program, including those associated with:

  • Training your existing employees
  • Hiring skilled Records Administrators
  • Contracting consultants and/or Certified Records Managers for the technical, compliance, policy-related, and strategic program elements
  • Capital and operational costs for hardware, software and cloud-managed and professional technology services.

Though the costs of these line items aren’t trivial, they often pale in comparison to the potential costs of:

  • Regulatory fines, and other costs associated with improper tax filings
  • Data loss of corporate memory, including records regarding customers, products, employees, and other valuable intellectual capital;
  • Being unprepared for litigation, as evidentiary requirements could result in significant losses
  • Being targeted by opportunistic internal employees or contractors who purposefully leak or mishandle your data because they feel your business can’t track their activities

A successful Records Management program requires constant care, feeding and attention. By investing the required finances, time, and executive oversight into your organization’s records program, you will save time and money in the long run while also protecting stockholder, employee, citizen, and/or constituent interests. Taking a “big picture” view of the opportunities of effective information governance will help you avoid dangers like micromanagement of costs, duplicated or lost files, and other forms of data mismanagement.

What obstacles has your company faced in trying to get executive and/or employee buy-in to your RM program? Tell us about it in the comments section, or contact General Networks to discuss the strategies that will lead your information governance systems and processes in the right direction.