In 1995, the American Records Management Association designated April as Records and Information Management Month. The goal was to bring greater recognition to information professionals and to the importance of the practices and principles they use to help manage and protect their organization’s most valued asset: information.
Some of the terminology has since changed, and the roles are evolving every day, but the responsibility has never been greater. Today, RIM Month provides an opportunity to acknowledge the complexities of the role and the competencies needed to bring order to the chaos of information and leverage it for additional value.
While still branded as RIM month, the term records management under-represents the scope of work of today’s professionals, who are managing all information, not just information classified as records. For this reason, ARMA intentionally now uses the more inclusive term information management (IM) when discussing the core concepts of the profession and identifies the subset of records where appropriate.
As explained in The Information Governance Body of Knowledge (IGBOK): The Foundation, IM used to be focused primarily on the fundamentals of organizing, filing, tracking, safeguarding and helping people find information.
Today, as illustrated in the IG Core Concepts graphic, IM is the hub around which information governance (IG) operates, so IM professionals also need expertise around technology concepts, tools, and techniques for creating, receiving, organizing, securing, retrieving, transmitting, storing, disposing of, and preserving electronic information.
In addition, they need to take a leadership role in collaborating closely with other IG stakeholders in alignment with the Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles ® (Principles) to fulfill the responsibilities described in ARMA’s IGBOK® and listed below:
- Develop and document the IM program
- Facilitate information availability
- Ensure information protection
- Develop the information retention and disposition program
- Assess information risk
- Audit the IM program
The Information Governance Core Concepts graphic represents ARMA’s perspective on the IG framework and the interrelationships among IG stakeholders. IM is at the center of IG because without the fundamental standards, principles, and best practices of managing information as an asset, the full value of an IG program cannot be recognized, and the inherent risks cannot be fully mitigated.
Represented by a system of gears, this graphic shows how these stakeholders must work together to produce valuable output – and that it requires an accountable professional, a certified Information Governance Professional, to ensure that these gears are synchronized.
“Communal pursuit of organizational interests is a principal characteristic of governance initiatives,” writes William Saffady, in Information Governance: Concepts, Requirements, Technologies. “A siloed approach, in which stakeholders operate independently and – in some cases – competitively, is not compatible with effective governance.”
An effective IG program, Saffady writes, “must promote interaction, cooperation and consultation among stakeholders. In the absence of communication and coordination, a given stakeholder may implement policies, make decisions, or take actions that adversely affect other stakeholders. An action that improves the efficiency or effectiveness of one information-related operation can have unintended consequences elsewhere in an organization.”
These communication and coordination skills, inclusive of competencies in marketing, training, project management and change management, are invaluable in bringing the IG framework to fruition. While that framework should always be comprehensive in that it addresses the full information lifecycle and meets the needs of all IG stakeholders, the program must also be agile to meet the unique needs of each organization.
ARMA’s professionals have been laying the foundation of this framework for years, and ARMA is proud to recognize their hard work during RIM Month every April.
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