‘A poor records management culture carries profound risk, while good records management makes very good business sense’. This is the core message of the Don’t Risk It! Know Your Records campaign, ARA’s first campaign on records management, and was suitably at the centre of ARA President Caroline Williams’ introduction to the latest campaign event held on the 18th February.
This event was a milestone for the campaign and the Don’t Risk It! Know Your Records campaign team had been working away, mainly behind the scenes, towards this ‘bring the boss’ event with the aim of creating an opportunity for those with records management responsibilities (whatever their role) to bring their decision maker to hear some high profile speakers on engaging topics.
Of course we were a little nervous to see if we had pulled it off, but by the end of the event there was no doubt that this was a success. KPMG kindly hosted the event in their Canary Wharf office, and KPMG Partner Stephen Bonner presented an engaging account of his experiences of the highs and lows of records management – including those extreme views of ‘keep everything just in case’ and ‘destroy everything in case it implicates us’. He emphasised the key message that there is a balance between the two, and that a records professional can advise on this and more.
Stephen wasn’t the only speaker to highlight the benefits a records manager can bring to an organisation. Caroline Williams emphasised to decision makers that they should talk to their records manager to take advantage of their experience. The UK’s Deputy Information Commissioner, Graham Smith, went so far as to refer to records managers as ‘the unsung heroes’ of this world of information and compliance. He talked of the powers of the ICO, including the monetary penalties they can issue in cases of breach, and how disappointing it is that this is ever necessary. He highlighted the importance of information as an asset to an organisation and the importance of managing that asset correctly.
Deirdre Allison and Gillian Acheson of the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust demonstrated the experience and skill of records professionals in practice through their account of turning around the management of information within their organisation after medical records were found in a decommissioned building. Their presentation was not only incredibly inspiring and useful to the records professionals in the room but also showed the importance to decision makers of embedding good records and information management into all procedures.
In addition to targeting the decision makers in the room on the 18th February, the campaign team have worked on a letter writing campaign in September 2014. This part of the campaign saw around 1000 leaders and decision makers in organisations around the UK and Ireland receive a letter detailing the risks in not managing records, and the benefits of doing so efficiently. Along with the letter was a leaflet designed by the campaign team that included a ‘health check’ for the organisation’s records management with a diagnosis advising them on the next steps.
The other key piece of work the campaign have been doing is to develop the Don’t Risk It! Know Your Records campaign toolkit. This is a free resource for records professionals to use to help them to advocate within their own organisation. It includes branding to use on internal communications, and includes advice such as ‘Know Your Allies’, and ‘Know Your Facts & Figures’. We launched this toolkit at an advocacy event aimed at those with records management responsibilities, on the 17th July 2014 at LMA and are hoping that this will prove to be a valuable resource for the profession.
Of course, the team will now be deciding what is next for the Don’t Risk It! Know Your Records campaign, but it is clear from the success it has met so far that you should watch this space. And of course, please do check out our resources!
The Don’t Risk It! Know Your Records campaign team is: David Jenkins, Bryony Leventhall, Sarah Palmer, Laura Hynds, Margherita Orlando and Edward Ratcliffe. John Chambers and Marie Owens of the ARA are working with the campaign team.
Supporters for the Campaign are: IRMS; The National Archives; The National Records of Scotland; The Scottish Council on Archives; the National Archives of Ireland and The Business Archives Council.
KPMG are a sponsor of the campaign.