The work that Steve Bailey and Joanne Hyslop have been doing for JISC on the Records Management Impact Calculator is really valuable and an important contribution to the professional toolkit. I’m planning to put the calculator into practice in one of the elements of our long-term edrms implementation early next year.
Prior to the release of the impact calculator they produced (in July 2009) “A common framework for measuring the impact of records management: An assessment of the current evidence base demonstrating the benefits of investing in the improvement of records management – a selective literature review”
This is a significant piece of work in its own right and deserves wide dissemination. Steve has blogged about the work and thinking behind the calculator. I would encourage reading the review in full. My personal (partial) experience endorses the findings of the review, which draws on the evidence base to make the following supported statements – my summary:
1. methodology exists to measure the effectiveness of a records management programme (per se) – but not its efficiency (ie how the costs of managing records compare before and after the initiative)
2. there is little literature supporting the claims of information and records managers that tangible returns on investment can be made from records management. We have focussed on a compliance-based approach to advocacy for activities.
3. the majority of benefits which may show return on investment have been intangible – notably regulatory compliance and information security. The previous JISC ESPIDA project aimed to consider this area.
4. most of the “evidence” about efficiency is nebulous and not supported by accessible, independent, empirical data.
5. where documentation is available, it features the “benefits” more than costs.
6. whilst general methodologies exist for project costing, the RM literature largely avoids them.
7. there is a perceived value in aligning measured benefits of records management with the agreed strategic goals of an organisation.
8. [despite/because of all this] there is a strong appetite for empirical data within the UK records management profession.
It will be interesting to see how the impact calculator works as a tool, and what the outcomes are of the JISC-funded pilot projects which will include a peer-reviewed article on the calculator.
The project has also produced a records management maturity model which I’ll blog about another time. I’m sure the team at JISC will be summarising any submissions they receive from the sector to build an overall picture of the maturity of information management in HE and FE at this point in time.