The other day I had a great conversation with a friend who happens to be the records manager of a small government agency. She was talking about how recordkeeping ‘just seems to work’ in her organisation and I was keen to know more. She went on to say that they have a reliable system, decent resources and executive buy-in – all the ingredients of a successful records management program in any organisation. But then she said this: ‘The best thing is that people are doing recordkeeping without even realising it!’ That’s when it hit me – this is the reason why recordkeeping works.
People in this agency don’t see emails, forms and reports as records. They see them as the valuable pieces of information that help them do their job so they treat them appropriately. They recognise the value in managing their information properly and they know that if they do, they can find information when they need to, which makes their lives easier. You can implement a whizz-bang application, have top-down endorsement and hire a team of ace recordkeepers, but at the end of the day people need to believe that what they’re doing has value. I asked my friend for her top tips for making recordkeeping work:
- Keep it simple. As public servants, we know we all need to keep records but let’s make it as easy as possible.
- Don’t expect all staff to think and act like Records Managers. Try to make the ‘recordsy’ stuff (like classification, security and disposal) happen in the background.
- Instead of making business processes fit in with recordkeeping, embed recordkeeping in what people already do.
- Start small. Find efficiencies that work for people and build their confidence in the process before taking it further.
- Title to find, not to save. Think about what you would search for if you were trying to find that document.
We’re always looking for ways we can make recordkeeping easier for our clients so we think these tips are great. If you want to make recordkeeping ‘just work’ in your organisation but don’t really know how to get started, let us know – we’d love to help. Now, over to you. Does recordkeeping ‘just work’ in your agency? How do you help people in your agency see the value in managing their information properly?
Senior Policy Officer