Tuesday, 16 April 2019

The Era of Electronic Records Management

I've always been impressed that the ICRM dedicates one entire exam, Part 5, to information management technology.  If you've been working in the industry at all, you will understand the necessity of that exam.

I delivered a presentation to a group of records management professionals recently on the topic of electronic records management.  My introduction sounded a bit like this:

"We have our paper processes nailed down.  When it comes to paper records, we're in pretty good shape.  When it comes to official electronic records, however, such as email, electronic content, and systems data, we don't do so well.  Question:  what percentage of your organization's official information is represented electronically, and what percentage is represented in paper?  It's likely in the 90/10 range, or if you still use a lot of paper, 80/20.  That means that we are poorly managing at least eighty percent of our official records.  That should cause us some concern."

Does this strike a chord with you?  Does it make you feel really nervous?  First, let's not be too hard on ourselves.  Paper is just much easier to manage.  It comes to us in relatively small volume and paper is a single format to manage.  Electronic information comes to us in large volume and in a vast array of formats and configurations.  So don't feel bad.  But second, it's not enough to lament about it and hope for the best.  As records managers we need to address the IM issues.

In my presentation I was more excited about the feedback it generated than anything I had to say.  Because people are doing things out there.  Let's share our secrets, our strategies, and our successes!  And press on!

In the meantime:  Part 5 of the exam is not an IT quiz.  It's more about IM in the current technological environment.  When you study for it, be happy knowing that the knowledge you gain will be critical in your IM career.

Wayne Hoff, CRM, IGP
ICRM Liaison

Thursday, 10 January 2019

CRM Workshop January 23rd - Space is Available!

Due to both the confines and the freedoms of the holiday season, this post comes a bit late, but there's still lots of time to register for the CRM Preparation Workshop scheduled for January 23rd at the Glenbow Museum.  Was does it entail?

8:00am to noon - In the morning we cover parts 1 to 5.  It includes:

  • Subject areas covered in each exam
  • Study resources
  • Strategies for writing multiple choice tests
  • Sample questions and answer review
12:45pm to 4:00pm - In the afternoon we cover part 6.  This includes:
  • Study resources
  • Sample prompts and expectations
  • Strategies for creating a meaningful response
  • The writing of a sample prompt, which will be marked by an ICRM grader, with comments returned after the workshop
The workshop is facilitated by..... yours truly!!  Yes, that's me.  And yes, in the afternoon, for the last 2 hours you WILL write a response to an exam prompt, and I WILL take them home and grade them for you.  (I grade part 6 exams for the ICRM most quarters.)  This is a highly valuable form of feedback.

To register, click here.  Hope to see you there!

Wayne Hoff, CRM, IGP
ARMA Calgary ICRM Liaison

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Go ahead and write Parts 1-5 - ANYTIME!

The ICRM has officially announced that the first five CRM exams can be scheduled at any time during the year.  This is great news for those who have busy schedules.  Previously, candidates could only write the exams during one 2-week test cycle each quarter.  That opens up a few things for you:

  • You can write the exam pretty much any week of the year.  It is still limited by those times made available by the Pearson Vue test centres, although there shouldn't be any major limitations.
  • You can book the exam on short notice and take it right away - perhaps you suddenly feel like you've got it all in your head and you don't want to wait.  Book it for the afternoon!  (They haven't actually announced how long you have to wait between booking the exam and writing it, but so far it seems that there is no restriction.)
  • If you do not pass the exam, you can write it again in as little as 48 hours.  Again, that's based on availability of test times at the Pearson Vue centres, but that's pretty handy.  Instead of waiting for three months and having to restudy the material, you can brush up in areas you felt you were weak and then write it again immediately with all of the material fresh in your head.
The Part 6 exam is not included in this change - it continues to be offered in the 2-week test cycle in February, May, August, and November.  This isn't a surprise; Part 6 requires human graders and that still has to be organized and administered under a regular cycle.

Let me know if this makes your plans easier.

On another note - the CRM prep course is being offered January 2019.  It's a little further back than we initially planned but this makes it better for those thinking about Part 6.  More details will be coming out later; if you're interested please give me a shout.

Wayne Hoff, CRM, IGP

ARMA Calgary ICRM Liaison

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Great News for Southern Alberta Writers of Part 6

I have been hearing that CRM candidates in the chapter have had to book their Part 6 exams in Edmonton, because they're not available in Calgary.  This is a significant inconvenience:  a long drive both ways, sleeping in a strange room the night before, and additional expenses.  Today I emailed the ICRM and Pearson VUE (host of the testing centres) to determine why Calgary, a city of 1.5 million, doesn't have a facility for writing Part 6.

The good news:  Tim Clay from Pearson VUE responded this afternoon to say that a software update erroneously removed Calgary from its list of Part 6 writing centres.  That error has been rectified:  you can now write Part 6 in Calgary.  A colleague of mine has already booked her Part 6 exam at the Bow Valley centre downtown.

So go forth!  Throw caution to the wind, and shout with uncontained abandon from the roof of your workplace, "I will pass Part 6!  I will be a CRM!"  And then the world will rise in celebration of your RIM prowess, chanting in unison of your records exploits and accomplishments, and your name will be sung in songs of heroes for ever and ever and ever!!!

Got carried away a little there.  But this should make getting the CRM just a bit easier for everyone.  Also - to those that actually made that trip for Part 6 - sorry that this wasn't rectified sooner.

A couple of other quick notes:  first, the board has given approval for a CRM preparation course coming in October or November.  Watch for further details on that, especially if you are planning to take CRM exams.  It is also good for those considering a CRA or CRM designation.  Second, it has been traditional for the ICRM liaison to regularly publish the list of exam dates.  I have been remiss in that responsibility.  Here they are for the next few sittings (see https://www.icrm.org/exam-schedule for more dates):

Fall 2018

  • November 5th to November 16th, 2018
  • Reservations accepted September 1st to November 1st, 2018

Winter 2019
  • February 4th to February 15th, 2019
  • Reservations accepted November 23rd, 2018 to January 31st, 2019

Spring 2019
  • May 6th to May 17th, 2019
  • Reservations accepted February 22 to May 2nd, 2019

Wayne Hoff, CRM, IGP
ARMA Calgary ICRM Liaison

Monday, 18 June 2018

Introduction to NAGARA

I recently became an associate member of NAGARA, the (drum roll please) National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators.  This is an American organization, so it lean towards US federal and state-level government records administration.  You may however find some useful resources there, especially if you work with the province or with the Canadian government.

The reason I bring them up is that they have partnered with the ICRM and they're offering a full-day CRM preparation workshop as part of a pre-conference session at their annual conference, which is in Washington D.C. in August this year.  Perhaps you work with an organization that has budget for this level of professional development... anyone?  No?  Well, if so, it may be a good opportunity.

Now, of course, the ARMA International conference always includes a pre-conference CRM prep workshop as well.  And it's in Anaheim, California, which is somewhat sunnier and also closer (no jet lag).  It takes place October 22-24th.

If you end up going to the NAGARA conference, let me know!  I'm relatively new to them and I'm curious about their offerings.

In the meantime I'm always open to questions and comments - fire them my way.

Wayne Hoff, CRM, IGP
ARMA Calgary ICRM Liaison

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

New Things!

Some new things are upon us!

1. The ICRM just published their new logo.  It looks a little hipper than the old one and has some symbolism in the shape:

The 6 corners of the hexagon represent the 6 exams, and the 3 corners of the triangle within the hexagon represent the 3 phases of the CRM process, which are application, certification, and examination.  Expect to see more of the logo in the future.

2. A new exam cycle is upon us... the next cycle is May 7 through May 18.  That gives you lots of time to book an exam if you're ready to write.  Speaking of which - some of you have commented privately that the Pearson Vue writing centres aren't open in Calgary, and that (this is crazy) you had to travel to Edmonton or Red Deer to write your exam.  Come on!!  I've investigating this and will provide an update shortly.  If you have any recent news, please let me know.

3. A new CRM Prep course will be offered.  More details to follow, but the chapter will offer it mid-June.  This will be good for those of you who:
  • Are planning to write exams in August (the prep course provides an excellent preparation for studying for the exams... so having some time between the course and the exams themselves is a good thing)
  • Wrote in May or previously, didn't quite make it on a couple of the exams, and want some additional help for those exams
  • Is interested in writing the exams, but hasn't really started the process yet and would like some guidance and help
More detail on this to follow.  It will be facilitated by yours truly, same as last April.

4.  Finally, the weather is new... kind of.  It seems that winter is having a tough time letting go, but we're starting to hit double digits for daily highs and that's all right.  Time to break out the deck chairs with beer holders and celebrate the new season!

Happy springtime to you all.

Wayne Hoff, CRM, IGP
ARMA Calgary ICRM Liaison

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The Future of Records Management

I was asked today, “What’s the future of Records Management look like?”  While it’s perhaps a little dangerous (or at least arrogant) to claim knowledge of the future, I will take the bait and go for it.  Thanks to Allan from Athabasca County for the suggestion, and a disclaimer – these are my views and not necessarily those of my employer.

To look forward we first need to look backward.  I’ve been in information management for more than 16 years now (holy cow).  So much has changed since then – social media, personal devices, cloud services, blockchain – sometimes it feels like a brave new world.  And yet so much has stayed the same.  The most pressing RM trend in 2001 was big buckets in retention schedules.  The most hotly anticipated technology was artificial intelligence (AI) and records auto-classification.  The biggest issue was how to effectively manage email.  Guess what:  we’re still talking about the same things.

Even so there exists today a kind of technological optimism that, pretty soon now, there will be a breakthrough in AI and then RM will be a matter of letting the technology automate everything.  I’m constantly tempted by that notion, but when I get my head out of the clouds, I know not to expect it anytime soon.  Why is that?  Because while the technology to manage information grows steadily, the complexity of information grows rapidly.  We still have nothing but trouble managing email – and the technology is almost 50 years old!!!

I believe that the issues of tomorrow will be the issues of today, but clothed in different colours and styles.  We will be struggling to separate transitory information from official information; we will be looking for more effective ways to identify official information eligible for disposition; we will be striving to protect information from premature destruction through retention policies and legal holds.  There will be a continuing effort to automate records processes and bring information governance principles to structured data, social media, mobile platforms, and the next trend in information sharing, whatever (as yet unknown) form that takes.  Some of you may disagree with me on this, but I haven’t been convinced otherwise yet because information still holds massive legal and operational risk and value, and because it’s what history tells me.

So:  do not believe that the job of the Records Manager is a short-term prospect.  Records Managers (or information managers, or information governance professionals), with their knowledge and experience of the principles of managing information, are critical to organizations moving forward into the next age.

My two cents.  Please leave comments, especially if you agree and more especially if you disagree.

Wayne Hoff, CRM, IGP
ARMA Calgary ICRM Liaison