Records management: Are you trapped? 

For any organisation big or small, an electronic document and records management system (eDRMS) implementation is complex, but if managed right, should be a positive experience for both the project team and the organisational users.

After being part of numerous eDRMS implementations across multiple organisations, I have noted several trends in project approaches – I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. In most cases, projects fly in and fly out, with residual impacts falling heavily on the end users, their day-to-day activities and tolerance to any future initiatives.

Some of the traps I’ve encountered, which could easily be avoided to reduce negative impacts, include:

  • Lack of focus on the end user
  • Inconsistent communication
  • Lack of planning
  • Unsuitable training and support, and
  • Poor change management.

Most importantly, although the issues that appeared were solvable, they could have easily been avoided if certain components of each project were better thought through and approached from a different angle. Three basic components to an effective and successful eDRMS system implementation include:

User Focus

An eDRMS system impacts the whole organisation – every employee and most of the activities they perform on a day-to-day basis. It changes the way users work, organisational operations, processes and procedures, and in some organisations the format of information, like moving from paper to electronic records. Engaging the end user to ensure they understand and appreciate these changes is very important; disengaged employees can lead to a reluctance to adopt the new process.

Lack of user adoption creates ineffective and inefficient business operations. It affects the ability to meet compliance requirements and can lead to user intolerance. Involving the user and getting them to adopt the solution from the start adds immeasurable benefit and increases the project’s likelihood of success. Simple activities that can be done to place a focus on the user include:

  • Involving all employees in the process
  • Recognising the employees requirements
  • Tailoring the solution to meet their needs
  • Demonstrating the benefits to them
  • Tailoring communications and keeping them informed
  • Listening to their queries and feedback
  • Providing good advice and support.

Planning

Having a detailed understanding of what activities need to be completed and how long they will take is crucial to keeping the project on schedule and under budget.

You can best prepare for an eDRMS implementation by:

  • Focusing on business and information problems
  • Thinking about the big picture
  • Gathering detailed requirements
  • Choosing a system that supports your user, business and compliance requirements
  • Thinking through the consequences of the change
  • Focusing on getting the small components right before big ticket items
  • Thinking about the quality
  • Ensuring training is conducted at the right time, and
  • Ensuring ongoing support and management are in place.

Change Management

It is not uncommon for users to be left out of the journey, instead being asked to arrive at the destination without even a map. The result: a lot of users don’t reach the destination they were promised. Most of the time this is not from lack of trying. If users aren’t taken on the journey they either give up or appear at the wrong place, frustrated and confused, through no fault of their own.

Change management provides the map to get the user to the project’s destination. Good change management turns a hard implementation into a journey. At a minimum, eDRMS change management approaches should:

  • Have a top down and bottom up approach
  • Ensure leadership support the implementation
  • Create of a champion or SME group
  • Have a well thought out plan covering:
    • where the users are currently
    • where they need to be, and
    • how they are going to get there
  • Ensure promises are followed through
  • Ensure communications are consistent and at all stages of the implementation
  • Manage expectations, and
  • Check in on the progress of users and support them where needed.

The three components outlined here can help make your organisation’s implementation smooth and successful. Stay tuned for part two of this blog which will cover the areas of communications and training and support.