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User-Centered Design Paves the Way for Adoption and Compliance

Lack of trust in records management system resulted in copy proliferation

It was difficult to find information using this client’s records management system.  What records were and were not available in the system was unknown. Most users did not trust it, and relied on copies they kept in paper files, shared drives or hard drives.   As a result, user adoption was poor, and compliance with the records management (RM) program was minimal.  Key reasons for the system’s poor reputation included:

  • Record retrieval relied heavily on a centralized process and a single individual’s knowledge, who was nearing retirement
  • Document indexing in the system did not reflect the way users think 
  • Retention rules were out-of-date, ambiguous, and difficult to apply 

 

This client needed to:

  • Transform their RM program into a more strategic, responsive service for the organization
  • Determine the content management system for the future 
  • Decide on when and how to update the retention schedule

 

They determined the way forward necessitated a shift from a centralized to decentralized model that incorporated the needs and concerns of stakeholders.

User input and participation was key for adoption of new system

The client chose a new content management system that better supported the electronic lifecycle management of records as well as collaboration and sharing of information. 
   
Initially, the client wanted to defer a retention schedule update to contain costs. When they realized the current schedule, if applied, would translate into an ambiguous and confusing information architecture resulting in increased costs for rework down the road, they changed their mind.  Updating the retention schedule now rather than later was seen as essential to success.

 

Our approach to facilitate user adoption of the new system included:

  • Rebranding the program to be inclusive of both Records and Information (RIM)
  • Meeting with stakeholders early in the planning process to gather requirements for environment and sizing.
  • Engaging subject matter experts in system configuration to reflect their business processes and language  
  • Simplifying retention rules for user understanding and application in an electronic environment
  • Acknowledging that transformation is uncomfortable
  • Publishing system quick reference guides and delivering training to the organization
  • Preparing the Records and Information Officer (RIO) for self-sufficiency through customized SharePoint training to provide ongoing support and maintenance of the RIM system

 

Trust in system leads to multiple benefits

Trust in the new system was established through intentional and careful cultivation by…

  • Developing a cohesive program that included stakeholder input
  • Testing, piloting, and evangelizing the new system’s reliability
  • Leadership support

As a result:

  • Records can be created, indexed, stored, retrieved, and destroyed reliably and without excessive effort
  • The RIM program provides trustworthy access to information and records, with alternates and “safety nets” no longer needed
  • The client can meet its obligations for public records requests and state audits with increased confidence
  • User adoption is reinforced through continued input and refinement of system configuration
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