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The steering committee
To succeed, our Records Management program needs continued commitment from all levels of the organization. A good way to cultivate that commitment is by establishing a steering committee for the records program. From a high level, the steering committee will direct the program, set priorities for it, and assist in making decisions. The steering committee will provide the leadership to ensure that the program is adequately funded, staffed, properly prioritized with business objectives, and successfully implemented. Committee members should know the organization well and be in a position to be both able and willing to make decisions.
Once the program is implemented, the steering committee should not be dissolved; it still will play an important function. It will continue to meet and oversee the Records Management program to make sure that it is properly maintained and updated. The Records Management system is not something that can simply be turned on and forgotten.
The steering committee should meet regularly, track the progress of the implementation, keep abreast of changes in regulatory controls, and be proactive in addressing the needs of the Records Management program.
The Records Management steering committee should include executives and senior management from core business units such as Compliance, Legal, Finance, IT, Risk Management, Human Resources, and any other groups that will be affected by Records Management. Each of these groups will represent the needs and responsibilities of their respective groups. They will provide input relative to policies and procedures. The groups will work together to develop a priority-sequenced implementation plan that all can agree upon.
Creating a committee that is heavily weighted with company executives will visibly demonstrate that our company is strongly committed to the program and it ensures that we will have the right people on board when it is time to make decisions, and that will keep the program on track.
The steering committee should also include representatives from Records Management, IT, and users. Alternatively, representatives from these groups can be appointed and, if not members of the steering committee, they should report directly to the steering committee on a regular basis:
The Program Contact
The Program Contact is the chair of the steering committee. This role is typically held by someone in senior management and is often someone from the technology side of the business, such as the Director of IT. The Program Contact signs off with the final approval on technology deliverables and budget items.
The Program Sponsor
A key member of the records steering committee is the Program Sponsor or Project Champion. This role is typically held by a senior executive who will be able to represent the records initiative within the organization’s executive team. The Sponsor will be able to establish the priority of the records program, relative to other organizational initiatives and be able to persuade the executive team and others in the company of the importance of the records management initiative.
Corporate Records Manager
Another key role of the steering committee is the Corporate Records Manager. This role acts as the senior champion for the records program and is responsible for defining the procedures and policies around Records Management. The person in this role will promote the rollout of and the use of the records program. They will work with each of the participating departments or groups, cultivating local champions for Records Management within each of those groups.
The Corporate Records Manager must effectively communicate with business units to explain the program to all staff members and work with the various business units to collect user feedback so that those ideas can be incorporated into the planning process. The Corporate Records Manager will try to minimize any adverse user impact or disruption.
The Project Manager typically is on the steering committee or reports directly to it. The Project Manager plans and tracks the implementation of work on the program and ensures that program milestones are met. The person in this role manages both, the details of the system setup and implementation. This Project Manager also manages the staff time spent working on the program tasks.
The Business Analyst analyzes business processes and records, and from these, creates a design and plan for the records program implementation. The Business Analyst works closely with the Corporate Records Manager to develop records procedures and provides support for the system during rollout.
The Systems Administrator leads the technical team for supporting the records application. The Systems Administrator specifies and puts into place the hardware required for the records program, the storage space, memory, and CPU capabilities. The person in this role monitors the system performance and backs up the system regularly. The Systems Administrator leads the team to apply software upgrades and to perform system troubleshooting.
The Network Administrator
The Network Administrator ensures that the network infrastructure is in place for the records program to support the appropriate bandwidth for the server and client workstations that will access the application. The Network Administrator works closely with the Systems Administrator.
The Technical Analyst
The Technical Analyst is responsible for analyzing the configuration of the records program. The Technical Analyst needs to work closely with the Business Analyst and Corporate Records Manager. The person in this role will specify the classification and structure used for the records program File Plan. They will also specify the classes of documents stored as records in the records application and the associated metadata for those documents.
The Records Assistant
The Records Assistant assists in the configuration of the records application. Tasks that the Records Assistant will perform include data entry and creating the folder structure hierarchy of the File Plan within the records application based on the specification created by the Technical Analyst.
The Records Developer
The Records Developer is a software engineer that is assigned to support the implementation of the records program, based on requirements derived by the Business Analyst. The Records Developer may need to edit and update configuration files, often using technologies like XML. The Records Developer may also need to make customizations to the user interface of the application.
The Trainer will work with end users to ensure that they understand the system and their responsibilities in interacting with it. The trainer typically creates training materials and provides training seminars to users.
The Technical Support Specialist
The Technical Support Specialist provides support to users on the functioning of the Records Management application. This person is typically an advanced user and is trained to be able to provide guidance in interacting with the application. But more than just the Records Management application, the support specialist should also be well versed in and be able to assist users and answer their questions about records processes and procedures, as well as concepts like retention and disposition of documents.
The Technical Support Specialist will, very often, be faced with requests or questions that are really enhancement requests. The support specialist needs to have a good understanding of the scope of the records implementation and be able to distinguish an enhancement request from a defect or bug report. Enhancements should be collected and routed back through the Project Manager and, depending on the nature of the request or problem, possibly even to the Corporate Records Manager or the Steering Committee.
Similarly, application defects or bugs that are found should be reported back through to the Project Manager. Bug reports will be prioritized by the Project Manager, as appropriate, assigned to the Technical Developers, or reported to the Systems Integrator or to Alfresco.
The Users are the staff members who will use the Records Management application as part of their job. Users are often the key to the success or failure of a records program. Unfortunately, users are one aspect of the project that is often overlooked. Obviously, it is important that the records application be well designed and meet the objectives and requirements set out for it. But if users complain and can’t accept it, then the program will be doomed to failure. Users will often be asked to make changes to processes that they have become very comfortable with. Frequent and early communication with users is a must in order to ultimately gain their acceptance and participation.
Prior to and during the implementation of the records system, users should receive status updates and explanations from the Corporate Records Manager and also from the Records Manager lead in their business unit. It is important that frequent communications be made with users to ensure their opinions and ideas are heard, and also so that they will learn to be able to most effectively use the records system.
Once the application is ready, or better yet, well before the application goes live, users should attend training sessions on proper records-handling behavior; they should experience hands-on training with the application; and they should also be instructed in how best to communicate with the Technical Support Specialist, should they ever have questions or encounter any problems.
Alfresco, Consultants, and Systems Integrators
Alfresco is the software vendor for Alfresco Records Management, but Alfresco typically does not work directly with customers. We could go at it alone, but more likely, we’ll probably choose to work directly with one of Alfresco’s System Integration partners or consultants in planning for and setting up our system.
Depending on the size of our organization and the available skill set within it, the Systems Integrator can take on as much or as little of the burden for helping us to get up and running with our Records Management program. Almost any of the Technical Team roles discussed in this section, like those of the Analyst and Developer, and even the role of the Project Manager, are ones that can be performed by a Systems Integrator.
A list of certified Alfresco Integrators can be found on the Alfresco site: http://www.alfresco.com/partners/search.jsp?t=si
A Systems Integrator can bring to our project an important breadth of experience that can help save time and ensure that our project will go smoothly. Alfresco Systems Integration partners know their stuff. They are required to be certified in Alfresco technology and they have worked with Alfresco extensively. They are familiar with best practices and have picked up numerous implementation tips and tricks having worked on similar projects with other clients.