In most traditional records management policies and standards, the first principle or requirement that you’ll usually find is something along the lines of “…manage records systematically…”. We’ve always believed that this is the most crucial elements of records management because its sets up a records management program and establishes policies and other governance practices.
For our new Records Governance Policy we’ve decided to take a different approach. Our first policy requirement asks Queensland public authorities to tackle what is arguably the biggest challenge we’re facing at the moment – getting support for records management across the business, top-down and bottom up.
In initial drafts of the policy, our first requirement dealt with governance (now Policy requirement 2) but some of the feedback we received challenged us to do something different. We agreed that culture and support (or lack of) can be a huge blocker of great recordkeeping and we really want to shake things up and make a considerable difference in the maturity and capability of agencies.
So what does it look like to actually meet this policy requirement? Good question. Our first response is: it will look different for every agency. However, there’s a few things that every agency should be striving for, regardless of how big you are, how much money you have or what your core business is.
- Agencies should identify (or create) very specific roles (ideally at an executive level) that have very clear, high-level responsibilities for recordkeeping. This role will be ultimately responsible for implementing this policy, for ongoing adherence with the Public Records Act 2002 and for transforming records management from an operational function to a strategic enabler. This role will also actively support a positive recordkeeping culture by promoting the value of records throughout the agency and delegating recordkeeping responsibilities to other roles within the agency. You’ll know that you’ve met this element of the policy requirement when you have a high-level advocate who values records and records managers, actively drives the transformation of records management and dedicates adequate resources to records management within the agency.
- Agencies should be clearly articulating recordkeeping responsibilities of staff and providing advice and guidance on the value of records. For most agencies, the implementation of a training and awareness program might not be a foreign concept but we’re expecting that the focus of training might shift a little. We’d really like agencies to be able to confidently sell the value of recordkeeping – to raise awareness on the ‘why’ rather than just the ‘what’ and ‘how’. We also expect agencies to take a more proactive approach in developing relationships with other areas who are key records and information creators, managers and users – think about areas like Right to Information and Information Privacy, Strategic reporting, Internal audit, etc.
- Agencies should be proud of their positive, collaborative and innovative records management culture. For some agencies this might feel like a bit of a pipe dream and we know this is pretty ambitious. In the short term, there’s a few things we think you can do to make a difference in this area – introducing records management as a standing item in as many high-level meetings as you can, selling the value of records (think carrot, not stick) and promoting the positive benefits of recordkeeping.
This is a BIG policy requirement and we know it’s not something that can be realised overnight. We also realise that it takes two to tango and we’re committed to supporting you in meeting this requirement. We’re taking a more active approach in communicating with CEOs, we’re developing new training packages that you can use in your own business and we’re cementing our own key messages on the ‘why’ and value of recordkeeping which you can use when you promote recordkeeping in your own agency.
What do you think of this policy requirement? Do you have any great ideas on how agencies can sell the value of records? Have you successfully got your CEO on board with recordkeeping in the past? Leave a comment below!
P.S. Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog as we unpack every element of this policy over the next few weeks.