Thursday, September 21, 2006

Persuading users to store records - carrot and stick approaches

In my post yesterday I suggested a list of records management topics I could cover in a presentation, to try and spice things up a little. As ever, there is no original thinking in here, just a regurgitation of commonly held ideas.

The topic I have selected to think about first is: Persuading users to store records - carrot and stick approaches.

One of the issues that organizations face with introducing records management is that business users are not typically good about consistently capturing document records received or produced in their day to day activities. Especially since the advent of email, users typically are not good at spending the time to identify and file important documents in a records repository. For organizations looking to invest in records management this is a key challenge that could affect the success or failure of their project. It may lead others to avoid RM altogether, instead plumping for the brute force but highly ineffective approach of email archiving.

In my view there are two approaches to enabling and persuading users to save records. On the side of persuasion (the 'stick') :

  • Encourage use of IM & phone for non-record communication (reducing cluttered email inboxes and the need to identify records within the mess)
  • Reduce size of email inbox and prevent local archiving (ensuring that email inboxes are kept small and manageable)
  • Enforce a store-it-or-lose-it policy (periodically clear out emails and files over a certain age)
  • Limit local storage (helping ensure that important documents make it to the repository)
Some of these approaches could be considered inflexible or even draconian, and could well backfire leading to nothing being stored. So as a balance, the way to encourage users to store records (the 'carrot'):

  • Educate users in the advantages of records management to them personally (automatic backup, enhanced document management capabilities, reduced effort over time)
  • Educate users in the advantages of records management to the business (reduced risk, less litigation, more money for bonuses)
  • Integrate business and office applications, making their use of records easier or even invisible to them
  • Use collaborative tools that enable more effective team working, which also integrate seamlessly with the records management system (users want to work collaboratively, and seamless integration hides the effort of records management)

Both approaches could help users actually handle records effectively. In reality, without some significant work users are unlikely to change their habits, so providing invisible and seamless means for capturing and classifying records within appealing applications they want to use has got to be the way to go.

Technorati tags:

No comments: