The economics of Information Management and Records Management are different – so we should treat them differently.

The value of what we do in people’s hearts and minds is totally dependent on how they understand it.

Records management is about evidence of compliance.

Information management is about driving organisational performance by using information.

That sounds simple, and it is, but they have very different future values, and very different investment constraints.

Getting records management wrong can put you out of business quickly. It can also tie you up in audits, and get you on the wrong side of regulators that can make doing business hard.

The future value of getting records right is being able to stay in business (or retain the trust of the public). When we do Records projects, we’re either bringing ourselves into compliance, or reducing the costs associated with compliance.

Getting information management wrong can also put you out of business – but it’s going to do it slowly.

Poor information management puts you out of business slowly because you lose to competitors who are achieving superior value from their information.

Too often we put them together like they’re the same, and they’re not. 

The economics are totally different. 

We stop doing Records Management projects when we’re compliant, and we can’t meaningfully reduce the costs of compliance. The constraints are the risks of non-compliance, and costs of being compliant.

We stop doing Information management projects (and knowledge management projects) when the organisational performance gain will no longer be sufficient to pay for the project. The constraints are the available market, the availability of capital, and the ability of the organisation to absorb change.

Too often I think we put the disciplines together. There are large skill overlaps, and obviously every record is comprised of information, but they are different. If we don’t think about them differently, talk about them differently, and have a shared understanding with our executive and staff about the difference, we can’t expect that they’ll be valued differently.

So it’s either all compliance – and to be avoided, or all value delivering – and the average of both, so neither gets their full value in people’s hearts and minds.

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