Thursday, 28 May 2009

Is it worth investing in records management?

Regular readers of this blog will know of my concerns regarding the state of the evidence-base supporting the quantifiable benefits of investing in records management. Lots of claims have been made (and endlessly repeated) over the years, but scratch beneath the surface and most turn out to be flawed in methodology, years old, biased in approach or simply apocryphal (or, in some cases, all three!!).

I won’t rehash the dangers of this here as I have posted on this not long ago. Instead I wanted to point readers to work that colleagues and I from JISC infoNet are doing to attempt to address this apparent void.

One of our first tasks is to try to ascertain whether the picture concerning the current evidence base is really as bleak as I have just portrayed. True, the literature review that we are currently conducting seems to be doing little to alleviate these fears, but of course to rely only on published papers and articles would be to ignore the fact that many organisations may well have conducted their own work in measuring the impact of records and information management initiatives for their own, internal reasons. As a result, loads of potentially invaluable data, plus the experiences from those who obtained it may be lurking behind closed doors.

In an attempt to unlock these doors we are currently running an online survey, open to all who have attempted to quantify and measure the impact of records management initiatives on their organisation, regardless of the sector or country you operate in. Further details and links to the survey are available from a post published today on the JISC infoNet blog.

Hopefully the results of this survey will provide a truer impression of the current evidence-base and, perhaps, provide us with a few leads to follow up on from those who seem to be really active in this area. All of which will help inform the framework that we are hoping to develop and release over the summer which will help those who wish to measure the impact of their records management activities and demonstrate if and when they achieve a return on their investment.