Whether it's the result of serendipity or good planning, the once segregated activities of records managers and enterprise storage managers may finally be coming together.
Most businesses, of course, deal with managing records as a process of doing their business. Records management may be an administrative or support service, or part of the legal department, but the old way of looking at it — filing, space reduction, storing "dead" records — is giving way to a new process that is viewed as strategic and business-focused, with important data to be protected. Maybe it's the result of accounting scandals and the regulations that followed, but the new records management approach is oriented toward legal and risk management functions — and is increasingly becoming a concern of enterprise storage managers.
Records and storage managers are finding common ground — they don't own the information, but they're responsible for the cost of storing that information, and they must distribute that cost to the responsible departments. With the proliferation of data, both groups find it important to remove unneeded and obsolete information, and are collaborating on how to accomplish that.
ARMA, ISIC To Collaborate
To advance these common goals, two groups representing records managers and storage end users are working to help IT professionals get the most from their data while keeping it safe and secure. ARMA International (www.arma.org) and the Information Storage Industry Center (ISIC) (http://isic.ucsd.edu/) plan to collaborate on research and education in electronic records and information management.
Independently, both organizations have developed programs to assist their core interest groups. ARMA, established in 1956 and with a current international membership of about 10,000, provides education, publications, and information on maintaining, retrieving, and preserving information created in public and private organizations in all sectors of the economy. ISIC, established in 1998 at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) as an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Industry Center, conducts research on the business and economic aspects of the global data storage industry.
Their agreement to cooperate seems a natural, since the goals of records management professionals increasingly overlap with the goals of information management professionals. More and more, both professions are managing business documents that are created electronically.
Recognizing their collaboration's far-reaching potential for professionals in the workplace, ARMA and the ISIC will work together through the ISIC's StorageNetworking.org Initiative (http://www.storagenetworking.org/). This UCSD-based program addresses the educational needs of data storage technology users.
Peter Hermann, executive director and CEO of ARMA, is excited about a relationship with enterprise storage professionals. According to Hermann, "these types of partnerships and collaborations among leading professional organizations pave the way for records and information management professionals and their professional counterparts to move towards collaboration and teamwork in their own organizations."
Finding Common Ground
Patrick Cunningham, records management strategist at Hewitt Associates and a member of the board of directors at ARMA, sees the value of records managers in their understanding of legal issues, the ability to articulate these issues to the legal department, and their ability to translate and apply resulting actions to the business.
Records and storage managers can partner in understanding the legal obligations to retain information on certain media, how backup volumes can be reduced, how to reduce or eliminate archiving data that does not need to be retained, and how to leverage hardcopy offsite storage volumes to reduce non-paper media offsite storage costs. They also can work together on managing emails, indexing documents and identifying vital records.
Cunningham says there are two challenges to records and storage managers coming together. "First, they have to find each other," he says. "Records managers are often lost in the administrative services area and storage managers can be buried in layers of IT. Second, they have to learn to speak the same language: 'archiving' means something different to some records managers than it does to storage managers, and 'retention' often has a different meaning to both groups."
ARMA and the ISIC plan to tackle challenges that affect professionals in both records and information management. Specifically, in the near future, look for the following:
- Joint curriculum development, professional development and education, and networking.
- Cooperation in standards development.
- A joint campaign to promote the relationship between storage networking, information lifecycle management, and records management. The campaign's goal is to benefit corporate America, higher education, North American nonprofit organizations and governments, international partners, and the broader community.
Ron Durbin, ISIC's director of industry relations, sees the two communities sharing the same vision, "making sure that their organizations realize the greatest possible value from their data while ensuring its accuracy and security." Durbin believes that for this objective to become a reality, "records management professionals and information technologists must collaborate within the organization."