Bridging the Gap between Developers, Vendors and Practitioners

Last month NARA held a panel discussion bringing professionals together to discuss the future of RM, namely a call for progressive services and solutions to better manage the growing and changing needs of the field.  In a blog post, Cheryl McKinnon of Forrester Research provides her takeaways from the session here: http://blogs.forrester.com/cheryl_mckinnon/13-09-25-nara_to_software_vendors_help_government_rethink_records_management. Also embedded in the blog are links to view the recorded session as well as the RFI (although the period for submissions has lapsed). With the Presidential Records Management Directive (PRMD) in effect NARA seeks to mark progress toward goals in several areas on or before December 31, 2013 including transitioning to a digital government. You may find more information here: http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/memos/ac23-2013.html. This panel session touched upon several of the looming PRMD goals and requirements, however I found the session itself a means toward addressing and bridging the gap between the various professionals who do jobs that impact the records management industry.

Whether implicit or explicit, the panel held by NARA addressed that there is a discord in the lines of communication between software developers, vendors, and records management practitioners and professionals.  The fault cannot be placed on any one group however. In McKinnon’s takeaways she highlights several areas in which we can all do a better job. Allow me to summarize the summarization: Developers need to work toward more open source solutions and aim for interoperability, vendors need to drop the jargon and PowerPoints and effectively speak to the needs of their customers, and records managers and practitioners need to adopt progressive technologies more readily and drive the industry toward successfully meeting goals and demands.

I can only speak from an RM perspective, but I have felt this dissonance between industries at many a meeting. While engaging with others during a phone conference or at a networking event I have thought to myself, “Are we all here for the same reason?” In many cases, no, we are not. At times this has generated a dose of skepticism on my end which has hindered negotiations more times than not and deters operations. Each individual of course has his or her own professional or personal needs to serve. Some come from a business perspective, others technological, while others academic. The fact of the matter in the current state of things is that we all need each other to get our jobs done.

While the panel from NARA addressed government-specific directives, the RM world at large can benefit from this important discussion about the intersection between industries. Have you experienced this disconnect in your operations? Have you found ways to reach middle ground? Do you think that in the future the RM field will demand more individuals who are jacks-of-all trades? 

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One thought on “Bridging the Gap between Developers, Vendors and Practitioners

  1. Meg

    Great post, Caroline. I have definitely both witnessed and experienced this disconnect. I think we all have!

    That being said, I have also witnessed and experienced true collaborations between these groups. I think the key to creating and fostering these collaborations is to stress exactly what you point out– the fact that we all need each other to get our jobs done– and also to add that we all need each other to get our jobs done easier, faster, and better.

    I’ve found that it also helps to start with a project that is defined in scope, and let this serve as a pilot. If successful, it’s great to be able to describe this to future collaborators so they can imagine how the project will work, and what needs to happen in order to make it happen.

    Working with people you’ve already established good working relationships with is also a great way to start.

    I’m not sure the future of our profession will require us to be jacks-of-all-trades. I do think it will require us to be good communicators and project managers.

    Reply

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