Modern Records Management for the Digital Clerk
Tyrene Bada joined CivicPlus® in a webinar to discuss her experience building a records management system from scratch at Portland Community College. It was a formative experience for her in her career, and she shared with us some of the major lessons she learned along the way.
Connect with a Community of Your Peers.
When Tyrene Bada started working in records management at Portland Community College (PCC), she found herself on a team of one. In order to find support and benefit from the experience of others, she joined ARMA International. ARMA is a community of records management, information management, and information governance professionals that helps with networking, continuing education, and more. Through this community, Tyrene learned more about the best practices in her field and connected with her peers. She still actively participates in the organization today.
Whether you’re on a small or large team, consider joining a professional community or resource group. They can help you learn the best tips and tricks, find classes on topics you’re interested in, and meet people in your field. Those further along in their careers will also find a place to share their hard-won knowledge.
Professional communities also help you stay current with new technologies and products. Records management is an evolving field that uses technologies like cloud storage, automatic archiving, machine learning, and more. Due to this, it’s especially important to stay connected and engaged with new information.
You Draw More Flies with Honey
Having joined ARMA, Bada had found external support for her work, but she needed internal support as well. She asked to meet with members of other departments to get to know them better. She kept meetings friendly while picking their brains about what kinds of records their departments had and how they were currently stored.
Bada learned valuable information that informed her approach to records management at PCC. But knowing what she knows now, she would tweak her methodology. While it was useful to talk informally across departments, it would have been better to start higher up with department heads or their assistants, she said. Ultimately, they had the most comprehensive understanding of the state of records in their departments. At the time, she was new in her role and hesitant to reach out directly to superiors. Now, she thinks they would have been receptive to meeting with her – records management supports department goals, and they would have appreciated the help.
Making friends in other departments had other benefits for Bada. Because she not only met but regularly checked in with the people she’d met, she stayed on their minds. When there were new initiatives or meetings relevant to records management, departments remembered to loop her in. It helped her stay on top of new records or process changes she likely wouldn’t have heard about otherwise.
Prioritize Your Records
After speaking with other departments, Bada better understood what types of records PCC had and could begin to prioritize them. As a school system, PCC’s most important records were student and financial records. The financial records were more directly accessible to her, and that’s where she decided to start.
As one person tasked with a big project, Bada had to use her time wisely. So, she set priorities and identified the records she had the most access to. This way, she made headway on her project while planning the next steps.
Set a Five-Year Plan Every Year
Bada shared one of the best pieces of professional advice she got from her supervisor at PCC. He told her to make a five-year plan for records management and to update it every year so that it was always five years out. Records management is never complete – new records are being created every day, so it’s important to keep thinking ahead.
He also told her to include short-term goals in her planning. Though the job would never be done, short-term goals let Bada know that she was making progress. Balancing short- and long-term goals can give you the satisfaction of checking things off your list while helping you understand the big picture.
Bada also acknowledged that five-year plans are influenced by the larger goals of your organization, which can change with leadership. This is often the case at public agencies like a community college system. Writing your plans yearly will help you incorporate any relevant new organizational goals and philosophies into your work.
Find Supporters When You Want to Make a Big Change
It had always been in PCC’s plans to go digital. When Bada learned about Oregon’s Records Management System (ORMS), a statewide program that helps with digital information management, she thought it was the best way to start making the change. All public entities in Oregon can take part in ORMS through a statewide master services agreement.
Bada knew she had to get the IT department to back her plan to use ORMS in order for it to be approved. She made a list of reasons the ORMS system would work for IT. She told them that they wouldn’t have to dedicate a server to it, as that would be taken care of by ORMS. And because they wouldn’t be hosting the digital archive, they also wouldn’t be responsible for troubleshooting any problems. Adopting the system wouldn’t add to IT’s workload.
They still didn’t go for it. Bada knew that without IT’s support for her preferred digital records system, the plan wouldn’t go through. Still, she thinks her approach of tailoring her pitch to the department and trying to gain their buy-in was the right one. “It’s about knowing the person, knowing what their priorities and limitations are,” she said.
She was still interested in records digitization and had heard that the city of Beaverton was working on doing just that. She connected with them to find out more about their strategy. In talking with people at the city government, she found like minds. Their IT department liked her pitch for ORMS. “I had tried to bring points to PCC, but it just didn’t take. Maybe it wasn’t the right time.” The city of Beaverton ended up hiring her, and she spearheaded their digitization efforts.
Be sure to watch the full webinar for more insights – and to her records management song! Thank you again to Tyrene Bada for speaking with us and sharing some of her records management wisdom.
Storing Digital Records with the CivicPlus Social Media Archiving Solution
For public agencies, it’s crucial for compliance to safely store digital copies of records according to your organization’s retention schedule. You also need to save and store records of your organization’s social media activity and website content. CivicPlus provides social media archiving, website archiving, and social media monitoring products to help government agencies, school districts, and other public organizations remain compliant with public record laws and actively manage risk online.
If you want to learn more about the technology and benefits of using CivicPlus’ Social Media Archiving solution to ensure compliance and mitigate risk for your school or school district, check out our solution overview or request a demo.