Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Changing attitudes towards EDRMS?

To my mind there was a noticable, and welcome, sign of changing attitudes towards EDRMS (Electronic Document & Records Management Systems) at this years RMS Annual Conference in Brighton last week.

Previous years have seen a virtual total dominance of the conference agenda by EDRMS, either through vendors demonstrating them, consultants advising on implementing them, or practitioners explaining what they have done/would like to do with them. Even when a session was not about EDRM the implicit assumption throughout would always be that this was still the only goal in town.

Okay so this year's programme still saw more than its fair share of EDRM-focused sessions, particularly on day 2, but to my mind there was more than a whiff of the rear guard action about some of what was said. Having heard an excellent presentation on day 1 from Euan Semple about the challenges posed by Web 2.0 and social software presenters seemed to be working hard to try to demonstrate how developing an EDRM is still the answer to such changing and challenging times.

This was echoed by the flavour of many of the conversations I either had or overheard between sessions. More than one delegate expressed the view that they no longer believed EDRM was the answer (something rarely if ever heard even as recently as last year). The trouble appears to be that whilst people may have fallen out of love with the idea of EDRM they do not know what other options to pursue.

Why this is and where this might leave us is a theme to return to another day...

17 comments:

Red Kite said...

Steve

Great start to your blog.

Keep up the good work.

Red Kite

http://www.adventuresinrecordsmanagement.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

EDRMS systems were not invented for the sake of themselves. There was (is) a demand for systems which could do all those things and some enterprising people sunk their life savings into developing them, testing them and having them approved by the various international standards bodies, in order to ensure they were fit for purpose. I am not sure why you have such a downer on EDRM systems Steve. If people think they are useful then they will buy them (and each year the ECM vendors seem to make more money than the last) and if they do not, then they won't. The money paid by the "evil" EDRMS vendors pays for a cheaper ticket at RMS for all - surely not a bad thing.

Steve Bailey said...

Dear Anon,

Just for the record I didn't refer to EDRM vendors as "evil".

The main obsevation behind this post was essentially that Previous years have seen a virtual total dominance of the conference agenda by EDRMS, but that there was a welcome (to my mind at least) broadening of the subjects under discussion this year - both on the platform and within the audience.

I am happy hold my hands up to the fact that I do have significant professional reservations about the assumptions on which EDRM systems are based and have stated these publicly in the past and no doubt will do so again. Given the subjects virtual dominance of every conference, event and professional publication that I have come across in the past 5 years I am sure the EDRM industry can survive a little criticism from a lone voice such as mine. It must be a pretty fragile house of cards if it can't.

Its interesting that you chose to pick up on the degree of EDRM sponsorship of the RMS (not a point that I made or even hinted at in my original post). Part of my concern about the wall to wall dominance of the EDRM industry in recent years is that it has contributed to a decline in intellectual rigour and innovation within the profession. That is our fault, not theirs but what it does mean is that for a generation of young records managers it is hard if not impossible to imagine tackling records management issues without an EDRM.

So in that regard perhaps the sponsorship issue you raise is linked to the point you make about why people buy EDRM systems. Perhaps it is less that they buy them because they are 'useful' and more that they buy them because they have forgetten there might be an alternative...

Anonymous said...

Hi,

This string reminds of a comment by a chap called McDonald I think in a book edited by Julie McLeod (Northumbria University), where in the first chapter he comments about watching electronic records management blunder to our desks into the 90's and the millenium that is 2000. He said he watched this transition with concern noting the many improvements that could be made if people were to do anything positive in this wave of electornic management. He rightly noted the obvious, poor capturing of good registry related skills etc. Ten years later he commented that nothing had changed. This "watching" role is counter-productive to his argument. If you watch and whinge without trying to influence change as a professional then you get all you deserve. EDRMs may not be the panacea (indeed it is not), however EDRMS has provided change in the right direction, the drive to managing content more effectively. If commenters decry what EDRMS has done, then they should propose alternatives. Then we will have positive pro-active movement rather than non-sensical diatribe from those who can only complain when they do not work the way they want, but cannot propose an alternative.

Steve Bailey said...

I agree and it is my intention to use this blog to try to stimulate just such debate about when alternatives to EDRM might be required, why this should be so and most importantly of all what such alternatives may be. This does not imply that I feel that EDRMS are without any advantages or any redeeming features, simply that there is a sufficient body of knowledge out there already promoting this side of things, so why not try to redress the balance slightly?

Its perhaps worth recalling that my original post which started this debate did not actually contain any criticism of EDRMS (certainly not to the degree that could be described as ‘a non-sensical diatribe’ I hope), it merely welcomed the feel I got from the conference that people’s perspectives were beginning to broaden again. Even if this means that it simply places EDRM within a broader professional perspective rather than simply assuming that records management = EDRMS as we have been guilty of doing in recent years this must surely be a constructive thing?

As it happens I personally I do not believe that an EDRMS is the future of records management and will attempt to elaborate further on why I believe this to be so in future postings. In fact anyone reading my last two postings on the rise of emergent systems shouldn’t have too much trouble understanding part of the reason why I don’t believe EDRMS to be a long term solution for organisations wishing to manage their information.

I would be the first to admit that I don’t have a fully-fledged, fully-articulated alternative to an EDRM, in fact I would strongly argue that there never will be and should never should be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution regardless of what it is or where it has come from. This would be to fall into the EDRM-as-universal-panacea trap all over again. Instead, how about developing a range of approaches, methodologies and systems which are specifically designed to address genuine problems faced by users and the organisations they work for? I have several problems with the concepts on which EDRMS are based, one of the chief of which being that they are designed to meet the needs of records managers rather than users. This may be a bizarre thing for a records manager to say, but contrary to what we might like to believe it is not records managers who are responsible for how the vast majority of information and records within an organisation are managed but the countless numbers of users who create and use them on a day to day basis.

Open source, process and workflow management, Sharepoint, digital repositories, Web 2.0, good ole network drive plus some very useful desktop and server applications… Who knows, they might all have a part play. But wouldn’t it be nice if it was records managers who were once more thinking this stuff through, innovating and blazing the trail – rather than just waiting for the next release of system XYZ??

Anonymous said...

It strikes me that EDRM Systems and the purchase thereof have raised the profile of the Records Management Department, and Archives, in the last 5 years to a position where we at least have some input into a key future IT system - it's capabilities, strengths and weaknesses, functionality and so on. And maybe gain some grudging respect from the organisation. Sharepoint, for instance, is the exact opposite - "Microsoft tell us MOSS does RM so all your problems are over with this new IT system we are introducing". My concern is that IT (read Microsoft) are cooking up a solution to a challenge they don't understand and this places the RM profession back in the cupboard under the stairs. I hope the alternatives you will be suggesting Steve are also going to enhance our professional standing as EDRM has (and Sharepoint is not (IMHO)).

http://www.usome.com said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
OnlineShop said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
OnlinePharmacy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
buy dosage orxc com from link phentermine html via said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
cupertino motels said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
name said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
branden tours said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dave matthews band tour australia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
who needs car insurance in said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.