How to obtain buy-in for your records management program – Part 1

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Securing buy-in for an RM program isn’t always easy. Many of us have gone forth with high hopes for a new RM program, only to be met with apathy (or outright resistance) when trying to win support for the initiative.

Whether you are struggling to win senior management approval or the participation of front-line staff, it doesn’t always have to be an uphill battle. Over the years, our records management colleagues have developed some great techniques for making the job a little easier. In part one of a two-part post, we’ll take a look at tips for senior management buy-in.

Best practices for RM buy-in

1. Make it about the bottom line

Many industries are going through lean times, so the mandate to save money has taken on much greater importance lately. If your RM program involves physical records, there are many opportunities to demonstrate cost savings, including a reduced storage footprint and lower offsite-storage costs. RM also has a big role to play in saving money on electronic records, which can cost a lot to store – especially if you are using pay-as-you-go cloud storage. Beyond cost savings, RM also helps the bottom line by improving productivity and minimizing the risk of costly compliance or privacy issues.

2. Don’t forget about compliance…

To expand on that last point, it always helps to show specifically how an RM program supports compliance with industry standards and corporate legislation such as Sarbanes Oxley. Usually, the organization will be already addressing these issues on an ongoing basis. By making those efforts easier and more effective you will certainly increase your chances of winning approval for your program.

3. …and security.

Most RM programs have a huge role to play in helping organizations comply with privacy laws. For example, most privacy laws entrench an individual’s right to access their own personal information. A good RM program ensures that personal information is kept long enough for individuals to exercise this right and that the records can be located and retrieved in a timely fashion. At the same time, the retention schedule ensures that personal information is not kept longer than business needs or legal requirements would dictate.

4. Check with the auditors

Audits are par for the course in the corporate world these days. One of the first things auditors look for is a clear and complete set of records to facilitate their investigations. When they aren’t happy with what they find, they will inevitably mention that in the report. In fact, it is not unusual for auditor reports to specifically call out gaps around records retention and information retrieval, recommending that these be addressed. These kinds of specific recommendations can be very helpful for gaining support for your RM program. Fortunately, it is easily to find this information since audits are often made available to the public.

There is more, so stay tuned! In next week’s blog post we’ll take a look at how to win support with front-line staff.

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