Jeffrey has been partnering with companies and organizations to help them better manage their workflow for over 20 years. He is the president of the ARMA Albuquerque Chapter in New Mexico and directly responsible for much of the success of our Professional Services Side at Improve Group.
Healthcare is becoming busier all the time, yet, resources for healthcare constantly seem to be becoming more and more scarce. Hospitals are especially feeling this impact. More patients require more services at the very same moment that hospitals are cutting budgets and staff. How do you stay afloat, especially when you take a pledge of “Primum non nocere” (“first, do no harm”)? Technology is often times a solution.
Over the holidays I saw that Norman Woodland, the co-inventor of the bar code, passed away. This caught my attention as bar codes have been a big part of my life, both personally and professionally. Personally, just like all of us, I see and use bar codes every day. When I get a delivery, the delivery person scans the bar code on my package to wrap up its tracking and assure custodial history. When I take my car in for service, the first thing the representative does is scan the bar code on my car’s dashboard to get my Vehicle Identification Number and look up its service record quickly. And, of course, when I check out at the grocery store bar codes are scanned to look up the price as well as decrement inventory.
As records managers everywhere know, there are records out there that have long retention schedules. When these records are electronic, how are you going to make sure they are actually retrievable down the road given changing technology? For example, how easily can you access and read a record off of a 5 ¼” floppy disk? Storing and accessing the disks alone is an issue to consider, forget about the files that are on them.
Lately I have been besieged by Bug Exterminators calling me or mailing me advertisements. They all say, “We are in your area every (choose the day here), and will just put you on the schedule.” One gentleman was gutsy enough to knock on my door and say the same thing. “Your neighbor uses all of our products, so we will just put you on the route for the same day as them every month. Just sign right here.” With my eyebrow raised, I said, “I already use someone, but thanks.” Without missing a beat, he said, “Oh, but you must want to use us. We’ll save you money.” Note, I have never met this person before, nor, did he ask what I currently pay. “Just sign here.” I closed the door.
In my 25+ year career I have had the pleasure to work with many different kinds and sizes of organizations – from a one man pizza shop, to the largest bank in the United States; from mid-size businesses, to large airlines. I have helped solve storage & access problems of all kinds – from restaurant reservations to loan paperwork; inventory supplies to people’s vacations. Today, though – was first – making sure brains are not lost.
So as our world moves more and more to electronic records, the thought of scanning one’s archive paper documents, especially to save money on sending documents to offsite storage, starts coming to mind. I have heard several organizations talk about it, and talk to me about it. One of the first major concerns that come up is, “how can I be assured that, say, 20 years down the road we will still be able to read the electronic documents?” I have some ideas on this.
On December 14th of last year (2010), I wrote myself this note:
• Records managers can show leadership by helping their organizations be ready to deal with the trends facing them:
o Information Explosion / Information Technology (I.T.)
o Social Explosion
I recently had the honor to give the first presentation of the year to the Rio Grande Chapter of ARMA International. The presentation was called “Speaking I.T.,” based on our chapter laying out the presentations for the year at the summer planning session. Between summer and fall I had a lot of time to think about this presentation and came up with some deep revelations about “Information Technology Departments” that I was excited to share with them and now you.
I bet you are either in the thick of it, or you hear about it at least once a month, or maybe you are being forced into it by your Information Technology department, or your users are saying, “hey, we really need to be using it.” That “it” is SharePoint as a records management system. Did you just cringe? Did the hair on the back of your neck stand up? Yeah, I am right there with you. This is a big challenge, especially when it comes to records management as there is a lot to consider:
I like to think of myself as an “Arm Chair Economist.” When I get together with friends or fellow Problem Solvers, I like to point out the many paradoxes of our current economy. Now, I won’t get on that soap box here (this is an information and records management blog for heaven’s sake)! Yet our “New Economy,” as I like to call it, is certainly throwing challenges at us. I see clients every day who are having to do more with less. Your competition is having to do the same, and find ways to do it better than you. One of those “its” is serving your customers.
I am going to take time out from my “Conquering Tips” to share with you something that really struck me recently. This is something that, on the one hand, records and information managers might say, “well, yeah, I know that is coming, but I don’t have to worry about that in my near future.” On the other hand, I will show that this is a problem (challenge? opportunity?) that you will be facing a lot sooner than you might think.