Register for RIM Month Virtual Colloquium, April 7th 1-3pm EST!


The SAA Records Management Section invites you to attend our free (!) RIM month virtual colloquium highlighting records and information management issues. Mark your calendars for April 7th, 2021 1pm-3pm EST.

Outline of Event:

7 wonderful presenters working in records management, with 7 minute lightning round presentations (see below!).

30 minutes will be allocated for discussion and questions following the lightning rounds.

Presentation order

All are welcome to attend.


Angela Ossar, Office of the Governor of Texas

Incorporating RIM into HR Onboarding/Offboarding

This short presentation will discuss the ways that RIM is incorporated into the onboarding and offboarding of employees at the Office of the Governor of Texas. In addition to presenting at New Employee Orientation on a biweekly basis, the Records Management Officer developed RIM Entrance & Exit Checklists to ensure smooth transitions. The checklists are required for all incoming and departing employees and were developed in consultation with IT, Legal, and HR.

Hillary Gatlin, Duke University

Surveying and Collecting Electronic Records

With COVID-19 restricting our ability to collect and preserve physical materials, Duke University Archives has changed its focus to collecting electronic university records of historical value. This presentation will discuss the process of surveying and reviewing these records in situ, provide examples of inventories that are useful for Technical Services staff, and discuss lessons learned as the Records Management program continues collecting university records despite physical restrictions.

Betty Shankle, University North Texas Health Science Center

Wrangling a Struggling RIM Program

Backlog of records awaiting transfer to off-site storage, check; outdated records management software, check; dated records transmittal and disposition forms, check; and no RIM workflow in place, check. Inheriting a struggling records management program can be daunting; however, it is manageable. From creating a network of Records Management Representatives across campus to upgrading RIM software that is seven versions behind, step by step records management can be wrangled.

Alexander Hughes and Shannon Gavin Johnson, Troup County Archives

Redeveloping relationships with records creators

The Troup County Archives works with three different local government entities to provide records management services. These relationships began in the 1980s but became strained within recent years. Troup County Archives leadership worked to redevelop these relationships and found great success. A budget increase and an intergovernmental renovation of the largest records storage facility occurred in 2019. This presentation seeks to show how these relationships were redeveloped and archival advocacy occurred.

Beth Cron, National Archives and Records Administration

Records Management Requirements for Systems

Have you ever been tasked with coming up with records management requirements and don’t know where to start? Beth will share how you can use NARA’s Universal Electronic Records Management Requirements as a starting point when identifying how to meet records management requirements when procuring or implementing a new system.

Jessie Graham and Anita Vannucci, University of Virginia

Going Remote: Moving RIM Training to a Virtual World

The move to remote work at UVA during the COVID-19 pandemic called for a new approach to RIM training. The RIM Team identified cheap and easy ways to take training virtual via live Zoom sessions and on-demand pre-recorded courses. In this session, the RIM Team will discuss ways we modified content and made virtual training more accessible. We will look at the tools we used and lessons learned along the way.


The close of RIM month

Today brings a close to Records and Information Management month.  Needless to say, the circumstances of a worldwide pandemic have affected all of us, personally and professionally.  Anecdotally, it seems that some people are finding very little time to worry about RM in the midst of crises while others are finding that with fewer public obligations there is more time to dig into the retention and disposition schedule.  And across the board, RIM training is in vogue.

So while some of our celebration has been muted due to the swirls of concern and confusion currently engulfing the world, we sincerely hope that some of what we’ve brought to the table this month has been useful to you:

  • We posted topics for discussion on the listserv on everything from scheduling shoes to how this emergency has changed your work.
  • We’ve had blog posts about RIM month in a state of emergency and about calculating storage costs.
  • We hosted a coffee chat to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the work of records managers.
  • We unveiled on our microsite our initial list of RM toolkit resources.
  • We held a Twitter chat with the SNAP section about the current state of the field.

In a time that necessitates some escapism from time to time, I sometimes find myself taking solace far, far away at the space station known as Deep Space Nine.  (And yes, I realize I’m blurring the franchises!)  In an episode that originally aired in 1993 (“Necessary Evil”), we hear the voiceover of Constable Odo:

“Commence Station Security Log, Stardate 47282.5.  At the request of Commander Sisko, I will hereafter be recording a daily log of law enforcement affairs.  The reason for this exercise is beyond my comprehension except perhaps that humans have a compulsion to keep records and lists and files, so many in fact that they have to invent new ways to store them microscopically. Otherwise, their records would overrun all known civilization.  My own very adequate memory not being good enough for Starfleet, I am pleased to put my voice to this official record of this day.  Everything’s under control.  End log.”

Now while Odo may not perceive RM as an important responsibility, you do have to admire his concision!  Watching these old episodes has also given me pause to consider how records managers are depicted in popular life.  Librarians and archivists certainly have a stereotype as rules-oriented folk that are fond of old things and quiet spaces.  But it strikes me that the people depicted as being good at records management are usually the bad guys.  Take the Cardassians in DS9 or the Galactic Empire in Star Wars.  As my parting gift for RIM month, I welcome feedback about positive role models for records managers by Hollywood!

Calculating electronic records storage costs

Last week, I walked through the various considerations and costs of storing paper records.  This post will do the same for electronic records and follows the same formula of not taking into account personnel or overhead costs or depreciation of equipment.  If you prefer a truncated version of this information, I’ve created a 1-page brochure of questions to consider about electronic records storage costs.

The first steps are the same, whether you store your electronic records on premise or in the cloud:

  1. Calculate the amount of storage necessary for your electronic records:
    1. image of folder propertiesFor born-digital records, this can easily be determined from the properties of existing file folders.  If your organization tends to retain records for the long-term or is not in the habit of purging routine, obsolete, and trivial data, this number will tend to grow exponentially.
    2. If you plan to scan paper records, you’ll need to determine the file format and resolution you intend to employ before you can estimate the necessary storage.  (The Library of Congress maintains information about recommended file formats.)
  2. Multiply the answer found in #1 by 2 so you can have at least one backup of all your files.

On-Premise Storage

Calculating the costs for storing your electronic records on premise will largely depend on the size of your organization.  Larger organizations likely have IT departments that set fee scales for each gigabyte (GB) of storage used.  Be aware:

  • the cost may differ depending on whether you wish to store sensitive or non-sensitive data
  • there may be minimum blocks of storage available
  • the cost is likely calculated based upon the storage available to you, not the amount of storage you actually use
    sample costs for server storage

In smaller organizations, you can calculate the cost of each GB of storage by dividing the capacity into the cost.  But don’t be surprised if the advertised capacity of the drive is different than what the computer registers — most humans think in base 10 numbers, while the computer calculates in base 2.summary of drive capacityFrom least to most expensive, storage options include magnetic data tape, hard drive disks, and solid state drives (although the initial set-up costs for tape storage will probably exceed the other options).  If you want to be able to find your records, you should also invest in a document management system or some other means of indexing your electronic records.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage means that your data is stored on remote servers rather than on premise, making it accessible through the Internet rather than a direct connection.

  1. Cloud storage generally breaks down into four components (and many providers have pricing calculators):
    1. Storage, calculated on the amount of data stored and usually charged at monthly rates
    2. Requests (e.g., put, copy, list, select) and data retrieval
    3. Data transfers (e.g., your website calls an object that’s in cloud storage)
    4. Data management (e.g., inventory, analytics, object tagging, replication)
  2. Determine whether the cost of backing up your files is included with the above fees or requires additional payment.
  3. Confirm the vendor’s process for purging data that has met its required retention (including any replications) as well as what sort of destruction certification they provide.  For anything other than standard storage, (e.g., nearline, coldline, archival), you will probably be charged for a minimum storage period, even if you choose to delete the file sooner.
  4. Determine whether there is proprietary software necessary to access your stored records and whether it is included in the storage fees or requires additional seat licenses.

Although these won’t directly impact your costs, here are some additional considerations that should be addressed in your contract with a cloud storage vendor:

  • Is there a system provided for indexing the records?
  • Is there a mechanism for avoiding spoliation of evidence (i.e., a method for establishing a litigation hold)?
  • What are the performance/availability guarantees (e.g., planned and unplanned downtime)?
  • Who owns the data that is stored and does the vendor have the right to access your data and profit from it in any way?
  • What is the procedure (and cost) for exporting records (including images as well as metadata) at the end of the contract period and/or when vendor ceases operation?
  • If your organization is subject to compliance requirements, you probably want to determine specifically where your vendor will be physically housing your electronic records (e.g., are they stored in Europe and, therefore, now subject to GDPR requirements?).
  • If your organization works in a highly regulated field like law enforcement or healthcare, you also will want to investigate the enforcement of security provisions by the vendor.
  • If possible, you may even want to determine what power source your vendor uses to cool the server farm, so you can take into consideration the environmental impacts of your electronic storage.

Hybrid solution

In reality, you may wind up with a combination of on-premise and cloud storage for your electronic records (e.g., you may store your active records on premise and backup your records to the cloud).  If your employees do not all have Virtual Private Network (VPN) access to locally stored files, this may be a factor that encourages more usage of cloud storage (this is definitely the teleworking influence talking!).

The complicated part of calculating the costs of electronic records storage is not in the formulas but is instead in the various factors, like:

  • Do you need the capability of sharing files with people outside your organization?
  • Will you digitize records into TIFF images or PDF files?
  • Which files can be relegated to coldline storage because they are only rarely accessed?
  • Do you have the staff who can adequately monitor and maintain on-premise storage systems?

But I have included a few calculations in the spreadsheet that might prove useful.  (As with the paper records calculators, the yellow cells are places where you should enter data; the remaining cells have formulas.)

I’ll conclude with one sound piece of records management advice — just because storage is relatively cheap, don’t let your organization plan to retain all electronic records permanently.  There are risk management and administrative reasons for defensible destruction that should outweigh the financial considerations.

Calculating paper records storage costs

Periodically on the Records Management Section listserv, a question arises about how to calculate the costs of records storage.  Sometimes the person is doing budget planning or looking to contract services; others may be formulating an argument about the value of good records management.  So I decided to make this my project for RIM month and have developed some simplistic models for calculating the costs of storing records, both paper and electronic.  (Please note: these models do not take into account personnel or overhead costs or depreciation of equipment.)

If you prefer a truncated version of this information, I’ve created a 1-page brochure of questions to consider about paper records storage costs.  What I’ll do here is walk you through the models and provide examples for calculating the costs of storing paper records.  Information about storing electronic records will follow in a separate post.

In-House File Cabinets

If you’re setting up an office or reconfiguring your space, it might be useful to calculate how much it costs to have file cabinets occupying some of that space.

  1. Identify the number of cabinets used/needed for storage.  This is a simple count of existing cabinets.  To calculate how many cabinets you may need, a standard 4-drawer vertical letter-size file cabinet holds about 6 cubic feet of records.
  2. Calculate the number of file folders needed to house the records (at least 1 folder for every inch of paper).  A standard drawer has about 26 inches of usable space, so for ease of calculation, you could estimate at least 30 folders per drawer.
  3. Calculate the cost of each file cabinet.
    1. One-time cost to purchase the cabinet
    2. For leased space, ongoing cost to use floor space for cabinets — measure footprint of cabinet + space that must be left free in order to open drawers and access records stored
    3. For owned space, there’s also a less monetarily-quantified opportunity cost if you’re using floor space for cabinets rather than other purposes (e.g., could a file room be turned into a break room or a conference room?)

In order to compare effectively with other options, I’ll calculate the monthly cost of each cubic foot of records stored in a file cabinet in your office (with the yellow cells being places you fill in the information you gathered and the others having formulas you can see here):calculator for file cabinet costs

In-House Storage Center

You may own a warehouse or similar sort of facility that you can use as a storage center.  For the purpose of this exercise, I’ll assume the records have already been foldered (but if not, see above for calculating expense).

  1. Calculate in cubic feet the volume of records to be stored.  The University of Delaware Archives and Records Management provides a useful conversion chart.  Or another way to look at it is that a standard cubic foot box has dimensions of 15”x12”x10” and about 3,000 pieces of letter-sized paper can fit inside (although this number will be dramatically lowered depending on the use of fasteners and folders).
  2. Calculate the number of boxes needed to house the records.  (HINT: Should be the same answer as #1!)  Determine the cost of each box.
  3. Calculate the number of shelving units needed for storage.  The specifications for the shelving unit should indicate the dimensions, and if you’re looking at shelving actually intended for shelving boxes of records, they’ll probably even list how many boxes can be stored on each unit.
  4. Calculate the amount of floor space necessary for the shelving units and to access the boxes stored on the units.  Estimate at least 3 times the footprint of the shelving unit.  As with the above example, for leased space, you’ll have the ongoing cost to use this floor space for shelving.calculator for storage center costs

This model assumes the real estate used for this storage center is much less valuable than your office space.  If you want to be thorough in your budgeting calculations, you should also identify the service equipment that will be necessary to store records (e.g., ladders, carts, pallet jack).  And if you want to be able to find boxes that you store, you should also buy/develop an inventory system.

Both of these in-house models calculate the up-front costs (e.g., cabinets, boxes) into the total monthly costs.  If you want to see a longer term method for calculating costs once these are paid, go to the spreadsheet.

Off-Site Vendor

This model begins much the same as storing records in your own storage center, but there are significant differences that you should make sure are explicit in your contract, such as security and privacy guarantees.  Also make sure you understand all potential fees (e.g., administrative fees, delivery fees, etc.).

  1. Calculate in cubic feet the volume of records to be stored.
  2. Calculate the number of boxes needed to house the records.
  3. Identify the cost to deliver records to off-site storage.
  4. Identify the fee to store records (probably monthly).
  5. Estimate the cost to retrieve and replace records (probably set fee per box):
    1. Consult internal usage stats and/or consider the likelihood of audits/litigation/records requests for stored documents.
    2. May also include transportation costs to and from storage facility.
    3. Be aware there’s also a fee to refile the pulled records.
  6. Identify the cost to destroy the records.calculator for vendor costs

Whether you need to make plans to store paper records or you need to encourage defensible destruction as a cost saving measure, I hope these models will be useful to you.  And if you’re interested in seeing the considerations for storing electronic records, come back next week!

RIM month during a state of emergency

Records and Information Management month was founded by ARMA International in 1995, and it has been a focal point of activities for this Records Management Section of SAA for a long time.  But this is not a typical April.  The latest numbers I saw this morning are that at least 87% of people in the U.S. are under stay-at-home orders.  Most archives and businesses cannot carry out business as usual because of the unprecedented health and economic impacts of COVID-19, so we certainly don’t want to give the impression that we are calloused to these hardships.

But for a number of reasons, I don’t want to forgo this opportunity to highlight the importance of RIM work:

  • I can scarcely think of a situation where information has been more vital to our well-being.  I heard Jon Meacham’s evaluation this morning that “to a large extent . . . the Enlightenment’s on trial here.  Facts and data that shape human decisions because they are objectively true, that is something that is now very much under assault.”  So what can we as archivists and records managers be doing to ensure true facts and data are being collected and disseminated?
  • People who have never before talked about data are now touting the importance of tracking who has the coronavirus and who has developed antibodies, all of which can shape medical and policy decisions moving forward.  Are there RIM voices involved in these conversations to ensure the appropriate methods for collecting and maintaining this data as well as the necessary privacy and confidentiality protections?
  • Many people who are not accustomed to it are being forced to telework — all the while juggling numerous other family and financial concerns — so good records management may not be at the top of their list of priorities.  What can the RIM community do to ease the burden while also maintaining good (if not best) practice?
  • On a related point, many of us don’t have in close proximity the human sources to whom we usually turn for guidance, so we’re using technology to fill in those gaps — and creating lots of records where there ordinarily would be none.  Do all our constituents know how to handle these MS Teams chats and videoconferencing recordings etc.?
  • Even in the midst of this crisis, there is essential work like processing payroll and setting up utilities that must be accomplished.  Have our Continuity of Operations Plans been thorough enough to be responsive in the current situation?
  • At some point, we’ll emerge on the other side of this crisis and will need the ability to learn from what was handled well and what was disastrous.  Are we capturing the appropriate documentation of policy and personal impacts of this crisis?
  • Outside the pandemic, there are two other pivotal data collection efforts ongoing — the 2020 Census and primary elections.
    • There were already digital options in place for collecting census data, but traditionally there have also been census workers who go door-to-door to capture information from people not willing or able to submit their data electronically.  The impacts on funding and representation will be dramatic if this data is incomplete.
    • Some primaries have already been postponed, and some locales are looking into the possibility of voting options that are not in-person.  Are there RIM people involved in setting up procedures to guarantee the authenticity of these tallies?

So both on this blog and on the SAA RMS listserv, you will continue seeing RIM month communications.  Some, like the conversation starter that was posted on the listserv yesterday, will be crisis-specific in hopes of providing people with opportunities to reflect and share how their lives and work are being impacted.  Some may be more lighthearted, knowing we could probably all use an opportunity to forget our troubles for a few minutes.  And some will be very practical, like the information on calculating records storage costs that I’ve been teasing you with for months.  My hope is that these efforts will provide you with some useful information, some relevant suggestions, and a mechanism to stay engaged with your community despite our social distancing.  I challenge you to weigh in either here or on the listserv with your thoughts.  And as always, if you have direct requests for the Records Management Section steering committee, you can reach us at  Stay healthy!

Courtney Bailey (Chair, SAA Records Management Section)

Records Management Section by Location

color-coded map of RMS membersAfter taking a look at the types of institutions for which Records Management Section members work, I decided to look at the same February 2019 membership list to determine where we live.  (Or work — looks like some folks live in one place and work in another, and it’s not obvious from the data which address was entered.)  Once again, there are gaps because some members didn’t enter addresses; where possible, I identified the state if it were obvious from the institution listed.

I’m happy to report that we have representation from all parts of the United States.  In addition to the 50 states plus the District of Columbia illustrated on the map, we also show members hailing from many international locales, including:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • China
  • Great Britain
  • Hungary
  • Japan

SAA’s Records Management Section Membership

In honor of Records and Information Management (RIM) Month, I did a little analysis of the membership of SAA’s Records Management Section.  I began this project in February by looking at the members signed up for the Records Management Section on SAA’s Connect community.  At that point, there were 1,324 members.

graph of SAA RMS membershipI broke down the membership into four categories, and I gleaned this information from what registrants entered as their Company Name.  (Close to 300 of those listed did not indicate their place of employment, so they do not appear in my graph.)

  • academic — This includes anything with school, college, or university in the name including affiliated medical facilities.  Many registrants list only the top level in their company name, so I made no attempt to differentiate between those who work at a university archives vs. those who teach vs. those who have some other role at a university.
  • business
  • cultural/nonprofit — This includes archives, libraries, and museums that are not affiliated with academic institutions along with historical societies and religious organizations.
  • government — I tried to make educated guesses about which entities are government-funded vs. those that are private organizations.  Although some academic institutions are also government entities, they are only counted in the academic list.

I’m happy to report there are now over 1,500 members registered for the Records Management Section.  Let’s keep growing!

In case anyone wants to sponsor some get-togethers to celebrate RIM month, I can also identify locales that have high concentrations of RMS members (15+):

  • Austin, Texas
  • Boston, MA (including Cambridge)
  • Chicago, IL
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • New York, NY (even greater when you include Bronx, Brooklyn, and other nearby locations)
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Washington, DC (even greater when you include Arlington, VA and Bethesda, MD and other environs)

Stay tuned to this blog as well as the listserv for more nods to RIM month.

How (not) to schedule electronic messages: Part II

Act 2: In Which Your Records Manager Gets Ahead of Himself, Thereby Tripping on His Own Feet

When last we checked in with the case of the unscheduled communications, your intrepid hero* had received a brief to write a memo to the City Information Management Committee explaining the “hidden costs” of email retention, and had scheduled a meeting with his boss (the City Clerk), the City CIO, and the assistant City Attorney who deals with records issues to hammer out a scheduling solution for text messages. The memo itself was easy, because the content is pretty much textbook records management best practice. You can read it here, or you can see my clever Prezi utilizing a “tip of the iceberg” visual metaphor here.  (Regrettably I did not get to use this at the actual presentation because I didn’t finish it with enough time to clear it with my boss. But the information is still good!) I framed the issue in terms of time=money, specifically that employee time searching = that employee’s hourly wage x the amount of time searching for the total cost of retrieving records. Two complications did come up but were easily answered:

  • We can charge back ‘reasonable’ search fees over $50 for public records requests: true, but is doing so good customer service? The City Clerk’s office is trying to push the idea of cutting through red tape to allow the public to work more easily with government, so this argument resonated, I think. Plus, of course, Wisconsin State Law prevents us from passing on redaction/review costs to the requestor, so any time spent on that because of inadequate information screening was a cost the city had to eat anyway.
  • Email (and probably eventually texts) is physically managed by a SaaS provider. This kind of threw my “costs of running the server, costs of paying someone to run the server, costs of maintaining good digital preservation practices” arguments out the window, since Microsoft includes unlimited(!) email archives storage space with the package that the city purchased. I decided to leave the question of the environmental cost of storage to another day, but I was able to point out that “unlimited” really meant “unlimited until you reach an arbitrary cap, or the vendor decides to change the terms of service” (I think we’ve all had a bait-and-switch ‘unlimited’ mobile data plan…). Beyond that, if the City ever moved on to a new system, the cost of migration would suddenly bring the size of the email archives to be brought over into sharp relief.

So much for the written component. Now I had to prep for the meeting and make my case for appropriate retention schedules. I did an informal environmental scan and quickly determined that some sort of two-tier retention scheme was going to be the only way to manage the vast quantity of texts and emails that would need to be addressed. Using examples from the State of Wisconsin, the newly-approved Wisconsin municipal records schedule, and NARA’s Capstone model, I put together the below chart comparing solutions, and paired that with a couple of sample schedules to bring to the meeting. Text ChartFair enough… but once we got to the meeting, I ran into continued resistance to implementing any of my suggested solutions. IT didn’t want to get into the business of classifying texts and emails; legal was concerned about the transition from the active system to a separate archive down in City Records; my team doesn’t really have the time or skillset to review texts to the extent needed; none of us were confident that we could leave records declaration or classification to users. We decided that as a first step, we would try to submit a schedule giving all text messages a retention of 6 months, on the theory that that time period would give us time to put holds on relevant texts, but would not require us to hold onto the irrelevant ones for too long.

I was all set to put something together, but there was one hitch: I was asked not to include my standard disclaimer for series like this, “if a record is associated with a series governed by another schedule, retain it according to that schedule.” The consensus was that the disclaimer would be confusing to end users and would not be followed in any case, and that I should submit a straight 6 months schedule and hope for the best.

I am, sadly, not as cool as Jeff Goldblum, but it’s still an appropriate GIF.

….Reader, I tried. I really did. I solicited advice from other records colleagues in Wisconsin; I asked around the Records Management Think Tank for their experience with scheduling texts under a restriction like this; I sent out requests to the RMS list and to Twitter for more policies. I couldn’t find anything that supported a *blanket* 6-month retention for all texts. As I wrestled with the language for a single schedule, I thought back to the Matthew Yglesias article about exempting email from discovery that I so thoroughly mocked on this blog lo these many years ago. If every text is retained six months, with no consideration for content, what stops people from using texts for everything, with a high likelihood that evidence of questionable texts is erased from the City logs after a certain period of time? At the same time, how can anyone possible go through all of the texts being sent by city employees to determine value? I decided at this point to play the same percentage game that NARA is playing with Capstone for emails—the significant/historically important texts, such as they are, are more likely to originate from accounts higher up in the hierarchy, so it makes sense to retain those archivally (possibly deaccessioning later through use of machine learning or similar); the rest could stay at 6 months. As such, when it came time to submit schedules, I turned in not one text schedule, but two—one for Elected Officials and Critical Staff, and one for everyone else.


Here’s your takeaway for today’s installment: do not blindside your stakeholders on schedule creation. In retrospect, I absolutely should have held on to those schedules until such time as I had a chance to consult with the relevant parties and explain to them why I thought one schedule was so problematic. I suppose I was anxious to get something through the approval process, which can take up to 6 months between City and State approval, which is why I didn’t wait, but the effect of my impatience was to anger EVERYONE involved. The CIO was annoyed because of the technical capacities that I assumed in my schedules (IT had since decided not to pursue a contract with the vendor of the solution described). The assistant city attorney was annoyed because he thought I overstated the ramifications of having only one schedule for all text messages. Everyone was annoyed because I made this change unilaterally and submitted it for approval without so much as a by-your-leave.

I own it—this was absolutely an unforced error. I 100% should not have rushed to get something/anything approved without checking in with the stakeholders about major changes. I stand by my reasoning for putting in a two-tiered schedule for text messages, and I did not withdraw the schedules at that time, but I almost certainly poisoned the well for getting the schedules actually approved by CIMC. Principles and best practices are all well and good, but they don’t do anyone any good if they alienate the people you need to sign on in support. Plus, of course, as it stands the retention of text messages is sort of the Wild West, so I’m not doing myself any favors delaying it for that reason either.

Next time (tomorrow?): Brad tries to make up for lost ground, plus the followup meeting/discussion and where we go from here.

*Possibly the first time anyone has referred to a records manager as “intrepid”. Definitely the last time.

How (not) to schedule electronic messages: a case study/cautionary tale

Welcome to RIM Month! I have been promising/threatening my fellow Steering Committee members to write this post for a while now. My ability to write it, however, has been significantly impacted by the extent to which I have been absolutely BIFFING the process. Stakeholders have been angered; records management best practices/commandments have been violated; capstone models have been altered; hair has been pulled out in frustration; records managers have been called on the carpet*. The worst part is that it’s not even done! I’m at, at best, a holding pattern to a point where I can maybe, MAYBE submit a schedule to be approved by the state board next quarter. The frustration continues.

The tl;dr of the below: Scheduling electronic messages is COMPLICATED, particularly in the public sector. You are walking a fine line between the dictates of the historical record, the operational needs of the organization, the technical capacity of your IT department, and the political/legal considerations of the public officials affected. These four factors are, more often than not, diametrically opposed (yes, there’s four of them and they’re ALL diametrically opposed; that’s how complicated it is). I, frankly, did not walk the line very well. If we represent the hazards as shark tanks on all sides, I am currently on dry land, but bloody and scratched and missing some chunks. So: Learn from my mistakes! Don’t go charging in without considering the ramifications! This is a case where “better to ask forgiveness than permission” definitely does not apply.

This is, as per usual, going to be a long one; I’m probably breaking it up into at least 3 installments. For the purposes of this blog post (and what I was actually focusing on), I am going to refer specifically to scheduling text messages below, but the lessons learned can apply to emails, social media, and other forms of electronic communication as well (and, to a certain extent, to all formats of record). Read on after the jump.

*”Passive Voice is the refuge of scoundrels”—Unknown Continue reading “How (not) to schedule electronic messages: a case study/cautionary tale”