Who’s Afraid of Records Management?

The Archive and Records Association Core Training Programme aims to help both newly qualfied and professional Archivists increase their skills and knowledge and keep up to date with the ever changinig demands and skill sets of the sector. In this post, Kimberley Beasley, an Information Management Student on the University of Glasgow course and Publicity Officer for ARA Scotland talks about the Electronic Records Management Core Training event run by ARA Scotland at Eastwood House in GLasgow in October 2014.


The answer is, of course, some archivists and records managers. Whilst a ‘solution’ to electronic records, in the form of Electronic Data Records Management Systems (EDRMS), is almost ten years old, it seems that electronic records can still prove daunting. A recent ARA Scotland Core Training Event sought to alleviate the fears of recordkeeping professionals.


Alan Bell (University of Dundee) started the day by highlighting the length of time electronic records have been looming, even the term ‘Web 2.0’ is now a decade old. In this time he stated that our relationship with information had changed, it now being everywhere in a way that it didn’t used to be. However it’s important to remember the role of the record-keeper, with emphasis on the ‘record’ part. The record must remain central to your role; he believes that keeping this in mind enables a more sustainable approach.

Frank Rankin (Information Governance Training and Consultancy) discussed standards in E-Records Management, highlighting the lack of a global standard. The US Department of Defense standard has become the de facto standard as many vendors of EDRMS have taken it on board. However MoReq2010, a European standard, was emphasised as a better because of its neutrality compared to its American counterpart. After this we played a quick game of acronym bingo which included PICNIC (person in chair, not in computer) and CRUD (create, read, update, delete) as well as the more standard terms like TCO (total cost of ownership) and UAT (user acceptance testing).

DoDIn the panel session we got the opportunity to hear about several different solutions to electronic record management. Ben Plouviez (Scottish Government) discussed the successful implementation of EDRM in his organisation where accountability was “built into its DNA” and was supported by a change in culture and compulsory training. He also pointed out fundamental differences in electronic information today which isn’t always in the form of documents that can be printed. Ann Grzybowski (University of Edinburgh) does not use EDRMS and whilst her role is often advisory she also manages the Central Records Registry Service, a shared drive service with strict controls on file naming. She believes that his approach works well in a hybrid environment and is extremely user-friendly; however it is significantly less sophisticated than EDRMS and so is limited in accountability. Alison Fernie (British Geological Survey) shared her extensive experience of EDRMS in several organisations. The varying levels of success showed the fundamental requirements of understanding user needs and management support when implementing these systems. Without these, EDRMS struggles to achieve its purposes for implementation.

After some questions were put to the panel attendees left the training more able, and maybe even more willing, to tackle electronic records.


  1. Interesting post, thanks for sharing it.

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