Simplifying Technical Jargon Will Improve Records Management Adoption

Nick Inglis

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Nothing sends users fleeing quite like unfamiliar language. Records management has developed its own terminology and language unfamiliar to the average employee. Simplifying technical jargon is one way to improve records management adoption rates.

Nothing can seem more serious to an employee than “declaring a record.” The term “declaration” can be foreign to their experience and outside their expertise. While records managers understand what “declaring a record” actually entails, this terminology may not be the best for reaching all organizational employees. Instead, look to phrases like “make a record,” “set as important” or even “keep as record.” Whatever language you choose to use, the main thing is to ensure that employees can understand their options and act with consistency.

While records managers have an understanding of “records retention,” employees may balk at such elevated and clinical terminology. Everyday language like “keeping,” “storing” or “saving” may better meet employees’ specific needs. Do these terms encompass the entire meaning of retention? No. Most likely they do, however, meet the level of understanding needed for non-records management employees’ roles in the organization.

For the average employee, the use of multiple terms with subtle differences can create confusion. Words such as “delete,” “remove” or “destroy” are in employees’ vernacular. While these words may not fully encompass the extent of the process, they convey something to employees more clearly.

Another problem spot is “taxonomy.” While it’s at the core of the work of a records or information manager, for other employees it’s just a fancy word whose meaning they’ll have to Google. Employees have an easier time understanding words like “keywords” and “search terms.” Keeping it simple will lead to better results as employees spend more time typing in words and not just hiding from concepts they don’t understand.

Every department should spend time analyzing its lexicon for clarity — this is especially true of departments like records management that serve the entire organization. Simplifying technical jargon is key when you’re looking to improve overall results.

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