Author: David Brown

Archives and Manuscripts (the Journal of the Australian Society of Archivists) Vol 39 No2 Nov 2011, edited by PROV's own Sebastian Gurciullo has an interesting article by Julie McLead, Sue Childs and Rachel Hardiman - Accelerating positive change in electronic records management: headline findings from a major research project (pp65-93).

Though it's UK orientated, it's none the worse for that. To quote from the introduction the article "outlines 10 headline findings from a three year multidisciplinary project...on electronic records management (ERM).  It also presents a examples of solutions to try, or to avoid, grounded in experience." The ten headline findings:

  1. few organisations or individuals have articulated a vision for ERM
  2. the people, process and systems/technology aspects of ERM are inextricably linked
  3. people issues are predominant, fundamental and challenging
  4. there is a wide range of critical success factors for ERM projects, applicable to all or most organisations
  5. tactics and solutions for ERM are contextualised and complex
  6. the success or failure of ERM implementations can be contingent on the presence or absence of small or accidental factors
  7. there are few published in-depth critical case studies of success or failure, or post-implementation evaluation
  8. proportionate and risk-based approaches are needed
  9. records management principles appear to be applicable for ERM, but practice needs to be adapted
  10. records professionals may be part of the problem as well as part of the solution.

In reading the article I was pleased and reassured that so much of the work that has been done with VERS, preempts or corresponds to the findings of the report. VERS is a clear vision ERM, it has acknowledge (though not accounted for fully) the people issues, identifies the componetry and the priority for delivery of these (success factors), recognises the variability (though doesn't provide depth in its overview), recognises the need for case studies (its on our work program!), is built with risk assessment as key element, accounts for applicable and locally useful standards, specifications and guidelines. While it is often pointed out that we and the records managers are part of the problem/solution, its hard to disengage and find solutions.

For all of the patting on the back there are some findings, recommendations that are disconcerting and need further thinking about.  In this post I wont go into detail, rather I'll leave you Figure 2 from the article.


David Brown, Assistant Director, Government Services, Public Record Office Victoria.