information governanceIt’s not SOP if nobody knows about it

We’ve been talking for months about how to build an Information Governance program for your organization. You’ve got a steering committee in place, the records identified, retention established, repository ready and you are ready to flip the switch on this thing and point it to the door. As the dust settles, you are looking around admiring your work checking to see if you missed anything. I have to confess that I’ve kept two very critical components to success back from the overall process – a Communication Plan and a Training Plan.

The Communication Plan

Somewhere along the line, while you are putting all these policies and procedures in place, you need to let the people know what’s going on and what is coming. I am one of those people that believes the more notice of a change on the way people do their daily business, the easier it is for people to accept the change. If your organization is fortunate enough to have an internal communications department, you need to get them engaged as early in the process as possible. If not, then you are on your own to get the word out.

Let’s start this out by stating the obvious: Nobody is going to pay attention to an email bringing them the wonderful news that their daily lives are about to change forever. I think we can all agree that we get too many emails and, if the subject line doesn’t have something in it that is relevant to whatever we’re working on at the time, we’re going to ignore it. Email is not effective in raising awareness of a new process.

Look around at what your organization does to communicate with its people. Do you have an Intranet page? Monthly newsletter? Billboard in the break room? How about staff meetings? These are all communication opportunities you should use to introduce the idea that Information Governance is coming their way. This is also where the Steering Committee needs to help spread the word within their departments. It is always easier, i.e., more acceptable, to hear of a change to the standard operating procedure from someone known in the department. Keep in mind that what you’re asking people to do may not be making their lives easier. You’re going to need all support you can get to make this transition.

Remember that people learn in a variety of ways, but there is one constant in the process for everyone – nobody learns it the first time and most don’t get comfortable with a change immediately either. Start early. Let the people know this is coming months in advance in staff meetings, articles in the newsletter or articles on the Intranet page. Put up posters, hand out pamphlets, in short blanket them with information so it will seem normal once the program starts. Thankfully ARMA International can help much of the printed material and it is ready for purchase on their website.

The Training Plan

Once you have softened them up on the idea of this change to their daily routine you have to train them how to do what you want them to do. My philosophy on training is this: Training never ends and you can’t do it alone. For the general person Information Governance boils down to “where’s my stuff and how can I find it again?” Create a guide or Job Aide that answer these questions. If you implement an electronic document management system you should create a step by step guide to show someone how they would do the normal activities of their business process. Have a training session to review the guide, but understand that nobody will get what you are talking about in a couple of hours. They have to work with it to fully grasp it. This is where the Steering Committee comes in again. Each department should have a “Power User” that thoroughly understands the process to guide their department when questions arise. Change is easier to accept when you have someone you trust to ask questions of.

Next month we will talk about the exception to the rules. See you then!

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