Records management has drastically changed over the last few years. With those changes come new records manager qualifications, equally important for hiring a records manager and growing as one. A key part of being a qualified records manager is understanding the best ways to remain current and expand your expertise.
The latest report from Cohasset Associates and ARMA International brings things into focus. According to the report, 85% of organizations have a records management program. However, just 25% have begun looking strategically to transform it into an Information Governance (IG) program.
While some organizations simply don’t think they’re ready to pursue IG, others are held back because of the persistent misunderstanding that records management and IG are the same thing. This is untrue, as IG is the overall strategy across all organizational information, while records management focuses on a narrow subset of information that must be retained. Records management doesn’t necessarily need to “transform” into IG, but is rather a sub-discipline of IG.
This distinction may help bring into perspective the other main finding of the report, which is that “a combined 51% of respondents indicate that the implementation of enterprise-wide IG policies is underway or a priority in the next 12 months.” While there’s no need for records management to “transform,” records managers may move into IG roles or apply their expertise to move an IG program forward.
Staying current as a records manager also entails an ongoing commitment and attainment of industry certifications such as ARMA’s Certified Records Manager (CRM), ARMA’s Information Governance Professional (IGP) or AIIM’s Certified Information Professional (CIP). A requirement of all these certifications is ongoing professional development, which helps professionals maintain and develop new skills. The CRM in particular is viewed as a foundation for many records managers, though its material is sometimes considered dated. Other certifications, like the CIP and the IGP, have also had their growing pains. So, while there are a handful of certifications available, none of them are the industry’s central standard in the way that a Project Management Professional (PMP) designation is for the project management field.
To remain relevant, then, one must look to additional sources beyond certification. Records managers should attend conferences such as the Information Governance Conference, the ARMA Conference, the AIIM Conference and the MER Conference. All of these can help practitioners develop new skills and learn about current best practices. Conferences can also help attendees connect with thought leaders and provide opportunities for ongoing education and networking.
You can also keep up on the industry by reading relevant blogs and publications. Some regular reading favorites include James Lappin’s Thinking Records, Laurence Hart’s Word of Pie and the National Archives’ NARAtions Blog.
There’s an array of qualifications that help records managers, but in a rapidly evolving world the currency of resources always remains an issue. So, it’s not any one specific thing that makes a records manager qualified — instead, it’s an ongoing commitment to growth and learning.