Getting the language right to reposition the value of records management

Peak industry associations RIMPA and IRMS share their perspectives on the changing role of records management professionals and the opportunity to demonstrate the value of information as an asset

At our 2021 customer event, Collaborate, one conversation in particular sparked a wave of feedback from delegates as our guest speakers discuss how to ditch the boring old language of records management and compliance and embrace a new language that really speaks to business users and leaders alike. Sexier words such as 'risk' and 'valuable asset' have real meaning linked to tangible results where the ability to surface evidence or save reputations far outweighs the cost of regulatory compliance.

In a robust discussion facilitated by Objective’s Chief Marketing Officer, Chris Britton, Anne Cornish, General Manager at Records and Information Management Professionals Australasia (RIMPA), and Ren Leming, the Chair of the Information and Records Management Society (IRMS) in the United Kingdom, shared their wealth of experience and perspective on the changing role of information management professionals.

The discussion covered a range of topics such as:

  • The value of records management
  • The value of records management to the community
  • Compliance versus risk
  • Changing role of information management professionals
  • Influencing the CIO
  • Advice for information management professionals

A main point continued to emerge throughout the conversation: the language used to describe and define records management.

Getting the language right

There is a general disconnect with organisations and individuals understanding the value of a record and the purpose of information and records management.  Anne explained that when speaking to non-industry members, demonstrating the value of records management and information governance using layman terms and everyday examples goes a long way.

The disconnect with an organisation understanding the value of a record could start with the language. Anne explained that the language around records management is not ‘sexy’ and that words like ‘compliance’ and ‘meeting legislative requirements’ lack a care factor to the general user. Instead, words like ‘risk’ and ‘valuable assets’ hold more weight to define records management and the lifecycle.

Positioning information as an asset

Ren agreed that messaging needs to be improved and explained that there is a common misconception that records management is paper-based and starts when the paper is in the archive box – something that happens when the information is at the end of the lifecycle.

However, the opposite is true as records need to be captured in their context from day one. “Records management has to be like a management system that covers the entire lifecycle because if you don’t capture and create the right information, you don’t have those records that are so valuable going forward,” Ren explained as he discussed the need to position information as a valuable asset.

“Risk is not just about compliance. It’s risk that tangibly affects the lives and livelihoods of human beings. There’s also great opportunity in records. They have evidential value. They have informational value. Sometimes, they can have economic value. Indeed, even heritage value."

There’s also great opportunity in records. They have evidential value. They have informational value. Sometimes, they can have economic value. Indeed, even heritage value.

Ren Leming

Chair of the Information and Records Management Society

Anne and Ren agree that leveraging ‘information as an asset’ and using the correct language to position this messaging is critical as we move forward in digital times. This will be essential in building credibility for records and information management roles in the industry and the effort to place more prominence on their role within an organisation.

While language might not seem important on the surface, there are real consequences from failing to get record keeping and information management right. There is a need to connect with why we keep records in the first place – from mitigating risk to the value they provide – and getting the language right can assist in getting there.

To learn more and hear the full conversation, watch the video above.

RIMPA is the peak industry body in Australia for records and information managers. IRMS is a membership organisation for people in the information governance, records management profession in the UK and Ireland. Objective has been working closely with both organisations to demonstrate the value of records and information management, understand the challenges of the industry and deliver powerful solutions that empower users.