Professional Development

Key Skills for Records Managers: Working Productively With IT

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Professional Development

Key Skills for Records Managers: Working Productively With IT

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One of the key skills for records managers is to translate business rules into technology. That means building a cooperative relationship with IT.

In some organizations, the relationship between records and information management (RIM) and the governance and legal teams is akin to oil and water. But when it comes to IT, the recipe should be closer to a perfect dry martini. Close collaboration with IT is one of the key skills for records and information managers.

RIM and IT are fundamentally concerned with the same things. Both are interested in organizing data and making it accessible to the organization. Both care deeply about security. Both put a premium on data integrity and quality.

But there are differences in the approach each group takes to its job, and the key to a healthy relationship between the two is mutual respect for each other’s perspective. Records and information managers are experts in process while IT professionals specialize in tools. Where the two groups get into trouble is when one tries to second-guess the other.

For example, a master data management project requires close coordination between teams on both sides. Working with the information governance organization, RIM professionals should determine how data should be described, formatted, stored and accessed. Some of the key skills for records managers are to create categories, map taxonomies and define meta-tags.

IT’s job is to choose tools that ensure the project’s success. It translates the business requirements into practice. For example, RIM may specify a certain level of security for some documents. IT’s role is to create the access controls, folder permissions and user views that map to those specifications.

IT organizations sometimes become smitten with technology at the expense of business purpose. In those cases, RIM professionals should focus on business goals and challenge IT to fit the technology to them. Avoid getting into arguments over features. IT’s job is to deliver the necessary business function in a manner that is usable and productive. Stick to those requirements and you will have few arguments.

IT organizations understand some people regard them as isolated and opaque. That’s one reason many have recently begun adopting agile development techniques such as DevOps. This approach breaks big projects into small pieces with the goal of deploying functions rapidly, testing continuously and collaborating closely with the organization.

In a DevOps environment, developers and business users may meet as often as once a day to review and test new functionality. Don’t regard these meetings as intrusive. Research has shown that organizations that adopt DevOps deploy code 30 times more often with 200 times shorter lead-time and 60 times fewer failures. The payoff of those frequent meetings is that the software that results is much more likely to meet the requirements of the organization than software developed in a traditional, monolithic fashion. If your IT organization is high on DevOps, cheer them on.

Finally, one of the key skills for records managers is to make IT’s job easier by being specific and comprehensive. One of the greatest frustrations of technology groups is working with business users who frequently change their minds about what they want. The more thought you put into creating comprehensive front-end specifications, the less time you’ll spend fixing things later. And that will make both groups very happy.

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