Friday 15 January 2021

ICRM Offering Online Exam Prep Workshops

 Happy new year to you all.  Here's hoping that 2021 fares better worldwide than 2020!

The ICRM has announced that they will be offering CRA, CRM, and Part 6 exam preparation classes online.  There will be a minimum of 4 per year, offered as half-day workshops at US$129 and a la carte one-hour presentations at US$50.  It follows a successful pilot in 2020.

They have also announced that they are considering offering these sessions in-person, but for now will only be virtual.

Confirmed dates are:

  • ICRM-led exam prep workshops – February 17-19, 2021
  • ICRM-led exam prep workshops in partnership with the Digital Government Institute (DGI) - March 10-12, 2021
  • ICRM-led exam prep workshops in partnership with the MER Conference 2021 - May 19-21, 2021
Additional dates will be announced at the ICRM website.  The full announcement can be found here.

If you are interested in pursuing CRA or CRM designation, or you're in the process of taking exams already, please let me know - there are resources I can make available to you that can help.

Wayne Hoff, CRM
ICRM Liaison, Calgary ARMA

Tuesday 1 September 2020

Online Testing for Part 6 Exams

In a huge move, the ICRM has announced that Part 6 exams will be offered online to CRM candidates.  This is a radical departure from the very secure, very controlled Pearson Vue test centres, but candidates who have been unable to write Part 6 due to COVID-19 restrictions will now be able to do so.

Parts 1 to 5 have been offered online since prior to COVID-19, and Part 6 follows a similar pattern.  The window is open for 2 months, and can be written any time during the test-taking window.  In Parts 1-5, candidates can retake the test if they are unsuccessful within a few days; in Part 6, however, candidates must wait until the next window opens (up to three months).  The first window runs October 1 to November 30, with the second running January 1 to March 11, 2021.

My thoughts?  I think it's the best that can be done under the circumstances.  The draconian security of the Pearson Vue test centres is strict to the point of being off-putting, but it maintains the integrity of the CRM designation.  You can't just waltz in and pass the exam!  The concern, of course, is that unscrupulous candidates could cheat - they might have resources at their fingertips that wouldn't be allowed otherwise.  Perhaps there are countermeasures; the exams are conducted by Examity, an organization that the ICRM has already been working with.  Despite such risks, this is a fair compromise for those who are waiting and have made plans based on earning the credential.  I applaud the ICRM for making a strong decision on this.

The next decision will be when to return to in-person testing for Part 6.  I am sure the ICRM will be gathering information and metrics to see if Part 6 online testing is viable indefinitely, rather than just temporarily.  Will be interesting to see.

For those of you looking for Part 6 - now you can do it!  Register here.  And please let me know if that's in your plans; I am still able to send study resources and can answer any questions you have.

Stay safe and stay strong!

Wayne Hoff, CRM
ICRM Liaison, Calgary ARMA

Friday 17 July 2020

ICRM Announces Partnership with University of Toronto

So - this is old news.  I should have reported on it a year ago.  But maybe a deserve a bit of credit (a tiny, quantum iota?) for checking up and following up on my notes.

In June 2019, the ICRM announced a strategic partnership with the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.  The SCS offers a Records & Information Management certificate that now aligns with the Certified Records Analysts (CRA) credential - if you pass all of the courses in the certificate with 70% or more, you automatically earn your CRA.  Pretty good!  The CRA is a great credential on its own, and it also brings you half way to the full CRM credential.

You can find the courses here - they are available online, so no need to move to Toronto.  If you or someone you know is looking to enter the RIM field or upgrade their current skills, this might be an option.  (Full disclosure:  the courses aren't cheap, but align with university rates.)

Of note, this is the first strategic partnership that the ICRM has made outside of the US.

Wayne Hoff, CRM
ICRM Liaison, Calgary ARMA

Tuesday 5 May 2020

Announcement From the ICRM Regarding Exams & Credits

The ICRM has issued a statement regarding testing and continuing maintenance points (CMPs).  The complete text of the message is included below.

Dear Members and Candidates,

The coronavirus (COVID-19) reality evolves and forces changes in all of our lives in many ways we could never have imagined. I’m reaching out to update you on what the ICRM is doing to offer support during these challenging times. Our main concern is the health and safety of our ICRM family and we continue to monitor developments associated with COVID-19 that impacts the ICRM, members and candidates.

Testing - The Board of Regents cancelled Part 6 testing for May as many Pearson Vue testing centers are currently closed with uncertain opening dates. We are receiving weekly updates on this situation as test centers start opening up in the US, Canada, and around the world. We will update you as we receive new information. If you are a current candidate and looking to test, you may find out information about test center operations in your local area by looking here:, which is updated daily. In an effort to be responsive to the situation and grow technologically, the Board appointed a Task Force to explore online testing feasibility. Stay tuned.

CMPs - Information was sent to all members on April 22, with a listing of resources available to earn CMPs during this time.  There are many online resources available. Also, review other options to earn CMPs such as reporting on a work project, or authoring an article for a RIM publication. See the for more information and the CMP announcement.

Dues - COVID-19 has impacted many businesses with cutbacks and closures. This has been especially difficult for members who find themselves underemployed or unemployed. Our hearts go out to them during this difficult time.  Please contact the ICRM office if you are having challenges in paying membership dues so we can work with you.

Website, Facebook, LinkedIn - We continue to update our website at   Please check it out for the latest information on testing, CMPs, and general information. We are also on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  Please follow us!

If you are experiencing any concerns regarding testing, expiring CMP cycle, or dues payments, please contact the ICRM office at and we will work with you.  These are difficult times and it is our wish to encourage and assist where we can.

The ICRM is here to help. We will get through this with the support of one another.  Stay well and respect the request for social distancing, but continue to reach out virtually until we can get together again. Resources are available. We can help guide you to those resources. We will continue to update you as we get more information.

Be safe, stay well and wash hands!

Paula Sutton
ICRM President

If you have any additional questions, please let me know or contact the ICRM directly as instructed above.

Wayne Hoff, CRM
ICRM Liaison, Calgary ARMA

Thursday 23 April 2020

Demonstrating Worth

A couple of posts ago I promised that I would address demonstrating the value that a RIM program brings to an organization.  This is it.

I've been in the RIM business for almost 20 years, and I've been through a number of layoffs.  I've noticed that many organizations look at RIM as the equivalent of the school's art program - in the good times, everyone thinks it's fantastic and utterly indispensable, but as soon as budget cuts come it's the first program to go.  Nothing has changed the fact that RIM programs must constantly demonstrate their value.  We can lament all day long about how IT budgets are huge and how they always do better in layoffs, but it should be noted:  they demonstrate their value.  And they do so on a daily basis.  The most successful art programs are those that demonstrate the tremendous value they bring to students and the community; the most successful records programs are those that demonstrate the value they bring to employees and the organization.  I can't say I am a master at the "art" of demonstrating value (little pun intended there :), but I'll put in a pair of pennies nonetheless.

a)  Address the whole spectrum of benefits.  In order of increasing importance:
  • The risks that are unaddressed if something isn't done
  • Areas of non-compliance with internal policy, regulation, or legislation
  • The time and/or money that the organization earns/saves as a result of your initiative - this is worth ten of any of the previous
  • Time and/or money that the organization earns/saves, as attested to by a business group outside of RIM - this is worth a hundred of any of the previous
b)  Choose your battles.  The number of battles you can fight depends on your clout at the organization and how accommodating its culture is.  I have created and implemented two major policies with an enterprise-wide impact, and I'm working on a third regarding email.  I have at least a dozen more I would love to put into place (and I'm working on them).  But it just won't happen, at least not all at once.  To tie in my first point, yes, rules (and the consistency they bring) are important.  But if I can't explain why the rule is beneficial to the enterprise, I won't get approval.  Even if I get approval, if I can't demonstrate the value of the policy/project/proposal, compliance will be nonexistent.

c)  When you've exhausted your resources and the answer to your request is still a firm no, accept it.  However, follow up with a list of legitimate risks and potential outcomes created by not implementing your project or plan.  Don't overblow the risks, which is an irresistible temptation; be realistic.  If that's hard to put together, then you'll understand why you got a no.  But if it's easy to demonstrate, you get a TON of street cred if one or more of the risks are realized.  If possible, get sign-off on your list of risks from the person who gave the final no.

d)  Focus on value to the organization, not the value to Information Management.  In the text books, conferences, and webinars we've attended to over the years, we've learned what "must be."  However, those authors and speakers don't know your organization as well as you do.  Some issues are bigger than others where you work.  Some pain points are more tender than others.  Your organization's unique circumstances will drive your initiatives, and your training and knowledge in IM will drive how you develop the initiatives.  It's not the other way around.

e)  To extend the last point further - do you know your organization well?  What are the core functions?  What business groups drive those functions?  What processes take in information, and what processes create information?  What does that content and data go?  The more you meet with business groups, the more you will understand the ebb and flow of information in the organization, and when you need to speak to issues, pain points, or solutions, you'll know what you're talking about.  People will listen.

f)  To extend that point further - internal relationships are key.  How many Law people do you meet with on a regular basis?  How widely distributed are those contacts across the IT branch?  The answer to those questions should be "lots, and widely."  Do you have a consistent contact in Risk, Privacy, Security?  Or multiple contacts?  How many business groups to you communicate with on a regular basis?  Is it just with the person who boxes up records for offsite storage, or are you meeting with managers as well, to determine their pain points, bottlenecks, and information aspirations?

g)  Please, please, please say, out loud and with booming, unrestrained confidence, that your efforts to tackle electronic records management are more demonstrable than your efforts to address paper records.  95% - maybe 99% -- of all records are born digitally now.  Yes, paper records absolutely have to be managed, but if your time and energy isn't starting to line up with the digital reality, no one will believe that your RIM program is doing anything of value, including me.  Sorry.

If there are any stories to share on this topic, please do so!  In the comments or via email is very appreciated.  Thanks.

Wayne Hoff, CRM
ICRM Liaison, Calgary ARMA

Tuesday 31 March 2020

Stay-At-Home Activities for IM Professionals

So, you're stuck at home, doing your part and practicing social distancing.  Maybe you're working from home with reduced hours or reduced demands, or worse, you're not working at all (my sympathies).  But now you have some time to do things you wouldn't be able to do otherwise.  If that's the case, here is a list of activities you might consider to keep yourself both sharp and occupied as a practicing IM professional.

1. Professional development
  • There are many institutions from Harvard and MIT all the way down to ARMA's website offering free courses on a wide range of topics.  Take them up on it!  If you need to earn CRA, CRM, or IGP maintenance credits, now is the perfect time.
    • Get up to speed on digital transformation, cloud computing, and work-from-home technology.  Pundits seem to agree that this pandemic is going to permanently change the way the world works - get a head start on that.  YouTube is perhaps the best place to start; there are a lot of very useful videos and webinars on cloud computing in general, and on specific solutions from organizations like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google.
    • Apply to the ICRM for your CRA or CRM designation!  If finances are tight or your organization's training budget is gone, don't sign up - just start preparing.  You can't write tests anyway until the pandemic settles.  Look up the annotated study guides here.
    • If you have the financial resources, sign up for a full course in an subject area that you want to be better in, or that makes you more attractive as a prospective employee.  Maybe it's in change management, cloud computing, risk management, or electronic information management.
    2. Networking

    This applies whether you are looking for work or not.  Networking is for more than just hoping one of your contacts has an inside line on a job.  It's also for learning from others, for hearing other stories and getting a sense of the world out there, and for simply commiserating with others going through the same things you're going through.  Try some of these things:
    • Get your LinkedIn profile up to date.  Go through your list of connections and reach out to those you haven't chatted with in a while.  See how they're doing.  Post some comments.
    • Host an online meeting with your current and/or former colleagues.  Introduce those that don't know each other.  You can do it with Zoom, Skype, Teams, or other video conferencing technology.  Or really go crazy - host an online Netflix Party!  Do a search on "information," "technology," or something similar to find some fitting shows (although, having tried that, I didn't have much luck... Perhaps Snowden?  Maybe you'll do better).
    • Start posting on the IM online forums out there.  Forums exist at AIIM, IG Guru, and others like Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and LinkedIn.  Post your ideas and connect with other IM professionals.
    • Have something you want to say?  Start a blog or a vlog.  Maybe it can be about movies and shows available on streaming services applicable to IM professionals. :)
    3. A home RM project

    If you're social distancing or even in self-quarantine, nothing is more exciting for a dedicated records manager than a home RM project!  There are a host of possibilities, and they can potentially cost zero dollars.  Try one or more out from the list below.  And if you're hunting for a job, of course list these projects in your resume.  Why?  They're 100% valid and valuable experience!

    RM Fundamentals
    • Conduct an information inventory in your home.  The physical records inventory will be easier, even if you have boxes in the attic - the electronic inventory will be more difficult.  Don't forget your records stored in cloud solutions like Dropbox.
    • Create a records retention schedule for your home.  Include permanent records like your house title, and vital statistics documents, and short-term categories for financial and tax information.  Create archive categories for your children's art and school projects.  Implement the schedule to both your physical and electronic records!
    Cleanup and Organization
    • Clean up and organize your filing cabinets.  Maybe that's a huge job, because you've been cramming staff into them for years.  Don't be embarrassed!  (As they say, "the cobbler's children have no shoes.")
    • Clean up your home computer.  Don't wince!  You've asked employees at your organization to do this on a daily basis - time to practice a little of what you preach. :)
    • Organize your home email.  Oh no, you're wincing again... and again, you've asked employees at your organization to do this on a daily basis.  Choose your battles; perhaps you only want to organize the previous two years' worth, or organize your contacts and complete missing information, or unsubscribe from mailouts coming from vendors you just don't use anymore.
    • Organize your DVDs or CDs (we all still have them!), or your home book and magazine library.  There are smartphone and computer apps for this very thing!  If you have the software, perhaps you would like to digitize your disk collection.
    • Organize your photos.  This is a big one... now you have time to do it.  Check online software possibilities; you may want to subscribe to a photo subscription service such as Amazon, Facebook, or 100 others you'll find in a simple Google search.  (Also check the features and reviews on these sites.)
    Information Security and Protection
    • Is your virus protection software up to date?  Double check.
    • Do some research and create an information security plan for your home network, computers, and devices, and then implement it.
    • Create a disaster response plan (DRP) for your home.  There are lots of online resources for this.  Put it into action and do a test run with your family.
    Digital Transformation
    • How much physical mail do you receive?  How much of it can be received electronically instead?  Contact your institutions and make the switch to paperless.  Organize your My Documents location on your computer so that you can manage the correspondence properly when it comes in.
    • Use an old computer or laptop to set up a media server in your home with access from your home network (especially if you digitized your CDs and DVDs).  Too daunting?  You have time now, not just to figure it out but to do it too!
    • Choose any kind of digital transformation project that challenges you.  Even if you're unsuccessful, you'll learn a ton.
    I would love to hear about your projects - let me know!

    Wayne Hoff, CRM
    ICRM Liaison, Calgary ARMA

    ICRM Response to COVID-19

    As you might have guessed, all Pearson Vue testing centres have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  You can see the ICRM statement here.  Of course, you can still prepare and study for exams; the ICRM will announce when the testing opens up again.

    All the best in your studying and preparation, but also in your homes and places of work - please be safe.

    Wayne Hoff, CRM
    ICRM Liaison, Calgary ARMA