As we take stock of the COVID years– we can see that the pandemic has inflicted social, economic, and structural damage to organizations. However, many in technology leadership saw it as an opportunity to shift toward digitization. They made commensurate investments in information management tools—especially (but not limited to) those in the private sector.
Before the pandemic, except for compliance, information management didn’t necessarily get much juice from C-level executives. Then, COVID happened. And everyone realized that paper-centric information management had difficulty working from home. After all, your neighbor, two doors down, can’t supply that missing spreadsheet or invoice or service request. The crisis has surfaced the need for information governance and records management. It’s also caused IM ISVs to hedge their bets on AI. It’s changed the whole dynamic of the work environment and forced people to pay more attention to how they’re organizing and managing information day in and day out. When COVID hit, we found ourselves hitting the ground running, installing portals, forms so local governments could continue service delivery and automating records management so they could more easily track everything. Usually, some of these projects take time, but implementation timeframes were shortened, even halved.
“Digital strategies built on conditions of yesterday or today won’t necessarily be valid in 2030,”- Carl Deal, Managing Director, Gartner.
So, you ask, what about legacy systems? Because if organizations are moving that rapidly, the what-do-we-do-with-old-records problem will implode. Those looking to the cloud for salvation are finding that for storage, at least, it can get pretty expensive. Some agencies are considering Trusted Systems to mitigate any potential permanent records and disaster recovery problems. For example, some legacy records needed to be retained for 60 years based on different regulatory obligations. Even though the legacy system had been decommissioned, the data and associated content still had to be maintained, where it could be retrieved and read. Don’t assume that legacy data is dead data. One of the things organizations are finding is there is much data that looked old, unimportant, and didn’t appear to have any value but did have business value once they understood what they had. This situation can also be problematic, such as the organization with no records management scheme that needs to respond to an overbroad discovery request. And needs months of person-hours to provide the information they should have or could have destroyed.
Where do we go from here?
Honestly, there’s no one answer. It rather depends on your organization and the regulation for your sector. Here’s a list of suggestions to help you architect your own forward-thinking IM strategy and approach:
COVID happened, and the way people worked has changed. If you’ve figured out WFH, you can continue to offer employees some flexibility. This, of course, assumes that you can provide secure, remote access to your organization’s information.
Most employees see records management as a burden. It’s important to show staff how information management offers business value to the organization. The automation tools in ECM like Laserfiche can provide a measurable ROI.
Business units will need to take the lead- Just because information management is a support function (unless you are a municipal government) doesn’t mean it’s not essential. Business units are highly skilled at what they do, and their productivity can be increased using information-driven workflows. They may need some help from a business analyst or IT, but it can be easier to have the employee who understands the business unit run the information management piece, then vice versa.
If these challenges are familiar and you’d like some help. Please give us a shout!