August 10, 2012 - 11:42 AM
When implementing a records management, whether you are focused on paper or electronic there is one crucial factor success. Records management is useless without change management. If you are compliant and crossed the t's and dotted the i's on your records control schedules and file plans, but have no early adopters and champions then your records management program will have no legs under it to stand.
Most non-records managers do not care about records. They care about compliance to avoid legal risk and saving money, but aside from that they want to keep everything and have a singular focus on their records and how they serve them instead of organizational implications. Early adopters are key for records management programs to gain momentum and shorten the overall adoption curve. These people will also be the super-users and participate in pilot records management program to help prepare for rolling out to the whole staff. If a records management program is rolled out with bumps you can be guaranteed that many people will try to jump ship which is why early adopters can help to smooth bumps and validate documentation. Training material is best created with early adopters as others may be more cynical or not bought in until they see that the change is good.
Equally important in implementing a records management program is organizational and change champions. If the records manager is the information governance officer then the champions are the congress who support the records management initiative. The records manager may be Jimi Hendrix in bringing about change, but they need the Experience to back them up and emphasize the message of sustainable benefits and aid in faster project delivery. Champions are typically opinion makers with a broad understanding of organization and a high level position of respect and networking capabilities in the organization. No records manager is an island and especially when bringing about change they need champions on their side.
Change can be slow and hard, especially when a culture is set in its ways. There will always be people that you have to drag kicking and screaming. To make the process smoother for all it is helpful to have the proper people on your side to help communicate your message to people on different levels, prepare them for what is coming, and reinforce change in a way that you can't. A records manager does not have the same leverage that someone who would be a champion does. The perspective of the early adopter can help the records manager to potentially see how other staff might adapt to a new records management program. Just like it take a village to raise a child, it takes a village to successfully implement a records management program.
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