Published On March 23, 2023While organizations—public and private, large and small—depend on records, information, and data to operate, the Records and Information Management (RIM) function is often misunderstood or undervalued. And in some instances, there is no awareness that it even exists at all. This month, we have the opportunity to shine a spotlight on RIM managers and the critical role they play within the organization.
April is RIM Awareness month, and it’s the perfect time to shed light on the value that records and information managers provide across the organization. This month, RIM professionals have a brilliant opportunity to enlighten their employers and fellow employees about the critical role they play in helping to achieve goals and objectives—to “keep the lights on.”
I connected with Arlette Walls, our Global RIM Manager at Iron Mountain, to develop the following talking points that can be used over the course of RIM Awareness month. Together, we emphasize why RIM is an important and necessary stakeholder in a modern, digitally driven enterprise.
1. Driving and upholding compliance standards
Organizations cherish their reputation. Yet one of the biggest hits an organization can take is when it hasn’t managed information, regardless of format, properly. Daily news articles tell of misuse of WhatsApp by financial institutions, data breaches impacting thousands of customers, and misplacement of confidential or classified documents. RIM professionals collaborate with IT, Legal, and other departments to create social media policies, records retention schedules, acceptable use procedures, metrics to monitor compliance, and more to protect an organization’s brand.
“Your corporate policies should reflect good information management best practices,” shares Arlette. “If your employees don’t know about your corporate policies, can’t find them, or can’t implement them, you will not be compliant, and your reputation will be at risk.”
Review your policies often, keep them current and relevant, and make sure they encompass new technologies, jurisdictions, and regulations. But most importantly, make them accessible and practical.
2. Assessing new technologies and defining acceptable use
Technological advances always outpace rules about their use, but that doesn’t mean acceptable use parameters can be ignored. RIM leaders are aware of how emerging technologies such as ChatGPT, as well as machine learning and artificial intelligence applications, must be implemented to remain compliant with internal and external standards. They are the people who consider if an algorithm or an emoji constitutes an official business record. They are also essential members of a team, along with IT and security, that assesses and monitors the records management capabilities of applications, before and after implementation.
“The role of RIM practitioners is evolving, and there has never been a better opportunity to show your expertise by engaging with new technologies and applications, and sharing your knowledge and perspective,” says Arlette. “Stay curious and don’t be afraid to explore something new. We should all be continuous learners.”
3. Supporting workplace transformation initiatives
Since the beginning of the global pandemic in 2020, there has been a major shift in how organizations use real estate, leading to office closures, reconfiguration, and down-sizing. Office file cabinets are more than furniture to be shifted, resold, or disposed of; they can contain important business information and records of a sensitive or confidential nature. It’s essential that RIM professionals are part of the team, alongside real estate and facility members, responsible for office moves or closures. They can provide advice about how to determine a record from a non-record and how to dispose of either.
“Whether you’re consolidating, downsizing, or closing offices, RIM professionals have the perfect opportunity to drive compliance and educate a captive audience on the importance of preserving business records and disposing of them,” Arlette shares.
This can be a stressful time for employees, so with the help of your real estate and facilities leads, make it as simple as possible for them to follow the rules and provide them with the right tools to do so.
4. Contributing to sustainability efforts
There are different ways in which RIM is involved in the achievement of an organization’s sustainability goals and pledges. Reporting performance to customers, shareholders, employees, and regulators depends on the collection of accurate and authentic data and records from both internal and external sources. The RIM function can assist sustainability teams by locating and collecting the required information. In addition, says Arlette, “RIM leaders can contribute to sustainability goals by selecting vendors that offer secure shredding in which the paper is recycled as well as the secure and responsible disposition of IT assets.”
RIM and Sustainability intersect to meet environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives. The same principles of accurate data and records, transparency, and accountability apply. Learn more about ESG in your organization, and reach out to your leaders to show them how RIM can add both strategic and operational value.
Without question, knowledge of records and information management is critical to so many of the decisions and actions an organization makes. A RIM professional’s involvement in the areas described above, along with their frequent interactions with other stakeholders, minimizes the risk of missed goals, fines and penalties for non-compliance, and loss of business records.
So this month, take the time to put RIM in the spotlight—you would be lost without it.
The records and information landscape is rapidly changing, putting new demands on how you manage information across your enterprise. Visit Iron Mountain’s Information Economics Academy to stay current and take action.