Friday, 24 October 2008

A Records Manager's 2.0 Manifesto

Taking our inspiration from Laura Cohen's Library 2.0 Manifesto, the following 12 statements were agreed by contributors to an online forum hosted on the Records Management2.0 Ning social network held on Friday 3rd October.

The aim of this manifesto is to encourage records professionals to positively embrace the opportunities and challenges presented by the increasing use of online technologies (variously referred to as Web2.0, Office2.0 social software, cloud computing and Software as a Service) within their organizations and to actively consider their implications for records management theory and practice. By doing so we hope to encourage debate within the profession, promote research and stimulate innovation – thus empowering records managers to play a full and important contribution to the shaping of this major new IT paradigm.

A full list of those who contributed to the drafting of this manifesto is included at the bottom of this document.

1. I recognize that the world of information culture is changing fast and that records management needs to respond positively to these changes to provide systems, policies, advice and services that are helpful to my organization, my teams and my colleagues.
2. I will educate myself about the information culture of my users and look for ways to incorporate what I learn into the records management solutions we offer.
3. I will let go of previous practices if there is a better way to do things now and will actively work towards the elaboration and formulation of new principles and practices.
4. Whilst I recognize the need for final assured quality in record-keeping systems this should not inhibit constant experimentation, innovation and development.
5. I will help users to take advantage of the Web2.0 services they need to deliver the agreed benefits to our organization.
6. I will avoid requiring users to see things in records management terms but, rather, will shape services to reflect users' preferences and expectations.
7. I recognize that records management does not have all the answers and will work openly, collaboratively and constructively with other IM and IT professionals in tackling the issues we face.
8. I recognize that it is not easy for users to keep records and will endeavor to develop automated and embedded RM solutions so as not to add unnecessary burdens to their working life.
9. I will work to improve the organization’s capability of keeping and understanding its records so far as is possible, whilst recognizing that we will never have perfect solutions for capturing and managing our records.
10. I will, at all times, strive to maintain a balance between the needs of my users and the legal, regulatory and operational requirements of my organization.
11. I recognize that although technology moves quickly, organizations often change slowly and will work to expedite our responsiveness to change, whatever its pace.
12. I will strive to deliver a service both users and management can trust and that is transparent and open to all stakeholders.

Contributors to the drafting of the above include:
Steve Bailey, Matthew Brown, Clare Cowling, Nicola Franklin, Rachel Hardiman, Tony Haworth, James Lappin, Elizabeth Lomas, Ton de Looijer, Tom Munzer, Phillip Ruston, Nicole Schulz

We are currently exploring the possibility of having this manifesto officially 'endorsed' by some of our professional bodies and would love to hear from any representatives from such bodies. We would also be interested to hear what individual records professionals think about the manifesto and how best to further promote its contents to our fellow professionals


Patrick Cunningham, CRM said...

On point number 10, I'd like to suggest that when we say "balance", we're not talking about exactly equal weight. Without a doubt, we have to keep the end user in mind and make every effort to ensure that the end user's needs are on the table and that the user experience is not something that drives them underground to guerrilla systems of records.

That said, there will be instances where laws, regulations, audit requirements, etc. require records to be maintained in a certain manner for a prescribed period of time -- and perhaps in a particular form.

There will be times when the user's desire for information to be made freely and broadly available will be constrained by data privacy concerns, intellectual property considerations, trade secrets and / or official secrets considerations.

"Strive to maintain a balance" is a place to aspire to, because it does remind us to consider the user and ensure that we provide some primacy for the user experience. But at the end of the day, the courts will not look the other way because we decided to make life easier for the end user and disregarded application laws and regulations.

Melinda said...

GREAT job, folks! I LOVE the inspirational and aspirational tone. Thank you for taking the time to commit these important ideas to writing, and thanks for sharing them. I look forward to seeing this concept take root as we records and information managers continue to develop our professional skills. Thanks again.

Sara Somerville said...

What a breath of fresh air! Thanks very much for taking the time to pull this together. How about putting it onto the RM Jisc mailing list for comments?

Anonymous said...

I translated the manifesto into Finnish and published it in my blog ( - Hope you do not mind!

Steve Bailey said...

Hi Pekka,

Not at all - thanks very much! I'd be really interested to hear what your colleagues in Finland make of it. Do keep us posted

Leanne Bridges. Records Manager, Audit Commission. said...

Great job on the manifesto - I am really keen to see a 'framework' for Records Management that would feature this manifesto - almost as a 'code of conduct' for RMs that would be supported by clearer standards that underpin the RM approach regardless of sector/organisation etc. The development of such a 'toolkit' and its endorsement by one or more of the societies that represent Records Management would be a great step forward and a gret resource for RMs facing the daily, operational challenges of Records Management.

Thanks again

Steve Bailey said...

Thanks Leanne,

Regrettably, the RMS have decided not to endorse the manifesto but we are keen to explore other routes to progressing this - so all suggestions welcome!