Tuesday, 18 December 2007

A records manager's review of 2007

The following was my contribution to a review of the year which is being published by CILIP. This was featured in the December edition of Library & Information Update Volume 6 (12) and my thanks to them for allowing me to reproduce it here.

2007 might best be summarised as the year in which the first cracks began to appear in the records management profession’s love affair with EDRM (Electronic Document & Records Management) Systems. Certainly rather than representing the unquestioned goal for all records managers, regardless of their sector or circumstance, a growing and welcome sense of professional balance finally seems detectable. This was certainly a noticeable trend at the annual conferences of both the Records Management Society and Society of Archivists detectable both in a number of presentations and in delegate ‘chatter’ between sessions. The arrival this year on the scene of Microsoft Office Sharepoint 2007 may represent both part of the cause and effect of this change. It may not be perfect from the records manager’s perspective, but so far as the average IT or business manager is concerned it undoubtedly ticks enough of the boxes to make them think twice about additional investment in any other ‘specialist’ records management systems.

Unfortunately when you expose 'false gods' it is inevitable that a period of doubt and uncertainty follows and my feeling is that this will colour the prevailing mood within records management during 2008. If we can no longer automatically rely on an EDRMS as our default response and the panacea to cure all our ills where will this leave us? In particular do we have an answer to the questions raised by the phenomenal rise and rise of Web2.0? As with many other branches of information management, records management is still currently trying to come to terms with a new climate where content is king, quantity is valued over quality and ‘the masses’ are all powerful. If you think that sounds like the complete antithesis of traditional records management then you’d be right. 2008 looks like being a very interesting year indeed…

Merry Christmas everyone and I look foward to plenty more discussion next year!