The measurement a records system needs to be effective

How clearly is a “fit for purpose” level of records system performance defined in your organisation?

One of the clearest correlations in any IT system, is the correlation between responsiveness, and usage. Systems that are responsive, get used – others don’t. 

Unfortunately there is a tendency in many organisations to buy a records system, sweat it until it breaks, and then buy it again.

The most common correlation I see in those organisations?

Is between performance and maintenance.

As soon as I hear “Our staff hate records”, I’m almost guaranteed to find a records software version that’s 5+ years old and hasn’t been maintained (if it’s been maintained, it’s often fine at that age).

There are always two ways to measure – 

  1. Listen to your users.
  2. Formally measure.

Users will tell you when a system isn’t performing – they’ll whinge. Unfortunately, whingeing is susceptible to the “it works for me” problem (who hasn’t had that from a manager before?) and is easy to ignore, mis-read, or to have management ignore.

Formal measurement is much harder to ignore. It’s also excellent because if you match system performance measures against key usage measures (ie. documents being checked in) you will find that there’s a certain point at which usage drops off dramatically (if you’re willing to let it get that far).

If your organisation understands the value of what records delivers, and gives you an appropriate maintenance budget, you’re in good shape.

Most organisations though, need to be shown that the lack of maintenance is having an impact. Measurement of records system performance will help you do that.

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