Key Findings Report: Common Challenges in Information Management

In December 2014, aligned with the Linked Training HP RM8 “What’s New & What’s Next” event, we took the opportunity to run an Industry Benchmark Survey. The main participants were Record Managers and Administrators using a TRIM or RM EDRMS, who responded to a range of questions related to personal development, technology plans, and change management challenges.
The survey purpose was two-fold:

  • To provide benchmark knowledge to assist industry professionals in future decision making and business cases, and
  • To ensure our service and product development plans are aligned with industry requirements.

A survey provides some pieces of the complete jigsaw puzzle that is the information management puzzle, and this must be pieced with existing knowledge and experience. In this report the survey feedback is united with real industry experience to provide a more accurate picture of what is being achieved.

The survey was divided into three main sections:

  • Personal development
  • Technology
  • Change management

THE RESPONDENTS

graph1Team Leaders in Information Management attended the RM8 Event in November/December 2014 and completed the survey. With the event being held in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Darwin and Brisbane, the results reflect these locations. 109 people participated in the survey, with people in an Administration role being the dominant respondent (37%).
In evaluating the outcomes I’ve drawn on experience from clients; through general discussions, participation in projects, eLearning and qualifications.

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

How much time should team leaders be devoting to personal skill and knowledge development?
According to the results more than 3 days per year. The people who completed less than 3 days of personal development were unanimous this was insufficient to keep them abreast of change in the industry.

70% of survey respondents attended three or more days of professional development in the past 12 months. Of those half the people who completed 3 to 5 days found this was not adequate.

In total, 50% of people are struggling to keep abreast of change in the industry. And this is from measuring the group of people who are most active in personal development as people in senior roles from proactive organisations, located in capital cities where they have access to development events, were the largest group of respondents.

In an industry which is undergoing rapid technology and compliance change, combined with changes to practice driven by digital transition policies, the majority of people are not equipped to fulfil current role requirements. This is a major concern for organisations in achieving best practice information management. Organisations expect best practice, but the staff are not equipped to provide it.

WHAT DEVELOPMENT IS REQUIRED?

The survey asked two questions in relation to the personal development people thought was required:

  • In what areas do YOU require ongoing development?
  • In what areas does YOUR TEAM require ongoing development?

graph2

EDRMS configuration skills were the main focus for Team Leaders with 62.6% of respondents requiring skill development. This was closely followed by Digital recordkeeping practices, which was also the major skill building need for 69.7% of their teams. Both these disciplines dominated the skills development required.

We know the industry is grappling with how to manage digital recordkeeping, both as a records role, and in supporting their users to adopt practices. This is heightened by the introduction of new functionality in HP RM8, plus the option of enterprise solutions.

Senior management will expect an RM8 upgrade based on previous TRIM upgrade experience, but there are major knowledge and skill gaps to be addressed; Record Types, Locations (and the impact of new licensing on upgrade), IDOL, etc. In addition the demand for the EDRMS being an invisible, intuitive solution is increasing. If usability solutions, such as Control Point, End User interfaces, MS Office integration tools, SharePoint or mobile solutions are part of the upgrade solution there is a lot to learn.

Much of that learning for Team Leaders needs to take place prior to installation in order to make intelligent decisions on the best solution for an organisation. Team Leaders may employ vendors to configure and install the solution, but they are the Subject Matter Experts (SME) on the nuances of their organisation.

It is well understood that minimizing the impact of change during an implementation or adoption program will vastly increase acceptance and use. Change can, and should be, minimized through multiple methods; technology solutions, process solutions, training and communications. Change Management skill and knowledge is identified as the third highest need for Team Leaders.

Generally the industry lacks awareness of the complexity of designing and delivering a successful change management program, and understanding of what can be achieved by appropriate practices. Significant behavioural change is required to establish those digital recordkeeping practices that are so necessary, and Team Leaders would be rewarded by easier and better results if there was greater focus on skill development in this discipline.

WHAT DEVELOPMENT EVENTS PROVIDE THE BEST VALUE?

Personal development is just that; personal. There is no single ‘best method’ by which a person will learn a new skill, knowledge or reshape their attitude. In addition certain types of development are more suited to certain types of delivery; for instance to become an expert in a system it is necessary to have hands-on experience with the system.

Our respondents were presented with a variety of available personal development events and asked:

  • Which did they participate in over the past 12 months? (Figure 3 Vertical bars)
  • The value of these events to your skill and knowledge development: Poor, Pleasant to attend, Informative & interesting, Extends my capability (Figure 3 Horizontal line).

The horizontal line in Figure 3 represents the average rating out of a possible score of 4 for each event type. Qualifications, although showing the least participation, were rated as the highest value in learning outcome, followed by Mentoring and Formal externally provided training courses.

graph3
Respondents identified in additional questions asked, the main constraints preventing personal development as price, lack of time, and inadequate budget. It is critical therefore that the available budget is focused on those events that provide the greatest learning value. Where the available and limited budget is directed at low value events, the lack of return on investment does not provide a business case for future requests for personal development.

Personal development should not be left to chance or opportunistic. Careful thinking about what record managers and their teams need to achieve in the upcoming 12 months is required, and the methods of achieving this. Mentoring is an under-utilized approach that not only provides great results, but works within the challenge of limited budget. One approach is to focus the budget spend on skill development for Team Leaders through high value events. Equipped with the necessary skills to lead, and a planned mentoring program the required development for the whole team can be achieved within the available budget.

TECHNOLOGY

graph4Is your organisation an early adopter or a laggard of new EDRMS versions? The early adopters are industry heroes. They lead the way, discover the challenges, and initiate solutions, making the path to upgrade easier for those who follow in their path.

Early implementation of HP RM8 is anticipated to be higher than usual for an upgrade. The significant new features make it very attractive to move from the TRIM 7 environment and offer both records management and end users better solutions for digital recordkeeping.

48% of respondents indicated they would implement/upgrade to HP RM8 by June 2015.

By April 2015 we know this estimate will not be realised. Whilst the majority of those organisations have their plans underway, as per usual when planning, it is discovered there are more intricacies to consider and time required than first realized.

The upgrade to HP RM8 forces organisations to review their existing EDRMS structure, mainly Record Types and Locations. It forces a review of search engines and options. There will be infrastructure considerations regarding storage and integration with MS Office. It is the opportunity to seriously visit RM8 as a Service, as well as SharePoint integration. There are many new integration tools on the market that should be investigated and reviewed for the value they add.

For many organisations it is an opportunity to revisit increasing the use of the EDRMS. This requires some soul searching. What has caused current low adoption, and how can that be avoided going forward? The world is changing and senior management are seriously looking at their information assets. How is your organisation going to harness this interest to drive improved recordkeeping? What is the level of change required?

Upgrading an EDRMS is rarely quick and easy. To achieve an upgrade without business disruption and negative fallout is challenging and requires careful plans. To make those plans requires knowledge and delicate decision making. Getting those plans right will take time, but the investment of that time will be recouped with an easier workload post upgrade.

CHANGE MANAGEMENT

Changing end user behaviour is the major challenge in achieving fully digital recordkeeping. It is not being too bold to say that all staff are currently capable of saving a digital file. They have the capability to use current Windows and MS Office applications. The ability to learn the skill of a new system is rarely beyond the capability of end users. The desire to change their behaviour and use the EDRMS is the capability that change management addresses.

USER ADOPTION

People are like sheep. They generally follow the crowd because it is the done thing. We have all experienced the frustrating situation where a fully competent EDRMS user does not use the system because it is not the practice in their business unit, and they are not going to be the trail blazer. Achieving a critical mass of EDRMS users is necessary to achieving digital recordkeeping.

To benchmark the current levels the survey asked two simple questions:

  • What level of TRIM/RM8 adoption do you need to achieve to successfully manage information?
  • What is your current level of user adoption?

63% of respondents agree that over 80% adoption is required to successfully manage information.

Only 17.4% of respondents believe their organisation has achieved that level of adoption. Over 80% of organisations are still working on basic EDRMS adoption challenges, with 60% of those organisations still below 40% adoption.

80% adoption is achievable. It needs to be the goal within each business unit. It is the long term vision within the whole organisation, with an initial focus on that level of adoption in specific business units, or for specific information assets. Without that level of adoption the benefits of shared information within an EDRMS will not be fully realized or provide the ROI necessary to validate investment in information management.

WHAT PREVENTS USER ADOPTION?

Solving a problem requires knowledge of the root cause of the problem. EDRMS adoption is not a playing field for trial ideas. Any EDRMS program that fails to achieve the basic objective from the outset will result in negative backlash from the user base and management which will make it extremely difficult to gain any traction with the audience even if the initial problems are resolved.

The survey asked a subjective question regarding blockages to user adoption:

  • To what extent do the following block gaining the desired level of user adoption in your organisation?

The possible responses were: Not at all, Minor, Moderate, Major, Extreme. A rating of 0-5 was possible, with 5 being Extreme. The higher the rating, the greater the problem.

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The answer options were framed as internal blockers; issues within the Information Management unit (purple bars), and external blockers; issues regarding staff and management (green bars).

User attitude, Management attitude and senior management support were clearly identified as the major blockages to adoption. In contrast the ‘minor’ blockers were all related to the capability of the Information Management unit.

The internal and external answer options are interdependent. For instance, if Information Management staff have poor Communication Skills, this correlates to a high incidence of poor User Attitude. Therefore the typical expectation is that the percentage of organisations reporting User Attitude as a major problem would be similar to the percentage reporting a lack of Skill In Communications.

With the exception of Sydney, this was true of responses from every location. In Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra and Darwin 94% of respondents with an Extreme or Major problem with User Attitude, had an equivalent problem with their internal Communication Skills. In Sydney only 50% had the same level of problem with Communication Skills.

The same cross-analysis between the level of problem with User Skills and the internal skill in training displays similar results. 100% of cities, except Sydney, who had a significant problem with User Skills, had an equivalent problem with their own Skill In Training. In Sydney only 40% of the respondents with a Major or Extreme problem with User Skills had the same level of problem with Skill In Training.

There are many possible interpretations of this data. Unfortunately one of them is that people in Sydney are less aware of the actual skills required to be a good trainer and to communicate well enough to change people’s behaviours. Whilst it is not possible from the data we collected to be unequivocal about the differences between cities, the issue of unconscious incompetence is something we often encounter.

A way to test whether you are seeing the world through rose coloured glasses with regard to communication and training skills is to track adoption levels. If after an intervention of communications and training, there is not a rapid jump from 30%, say, to 70% in adoption levels, then there is room to improve in change management, communications and training skills.

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