As part of our Certified Information Professional Spotlight series, I sat down with Gina Smith-Guidi, Principal Information Manager, Corporate Records and Information Management for the Office of the City Clerk in Edmonton, AB. We chatted about the importance of taking a holistic approach to Information Management.
Jesse: Hi Gina, I’m excited to chat with you today. Local government relies heavily on proper records management to operate. Tell me more about your role in the Office of the City Clerk in Edmonton.
Gina: The Principal Information Manager (PIM) has a specialized delegation in City governance. The PIM serves a risk mitigation and process enhancement function for City information. The PIM oversees the implementation of programs, services, and projects that align with legislation, standards, and best practices, as well as advises stakeholders (Law, IT, Business, and Archives) on a Non-Silo Approach towards Information Management.
The Principal Information Manager has strategic and management oversight of the Corporate Records and Information Management business unit. The portfolio is diverse with many projects, programs and services operating simultaneously.
Jesse: A Non-Silo Approach towards Information Management, I love the sound of that! You’ve been working on a Google Taxonomy project that’s received substantial attention. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Gina: The Google Taxonomy Project is the first full life-cycle management product developed for the Google environment. It involves setting up classification and retention functionality, along with a File Assist tool (a pop-up window that assists users in classifying with help text).
Using recognized Information Management best practices, it is a premier example of how to solve complex IM issues for managing large volumes of unstructured data with innovative and efficient solutions.
The objective of the project is to develop and maintain file classification and retention of unstructured records in Google Drive. Secondary objectives are simplicity, flexibility and scalability for all branches and departments. The features implemented in this project are designed to have minimal impact on the COE users’ daily workflows. During the development phase, the users’ experience was a forefront consideration. Google Taxonomy does not incorporate any superfluous IM processes, only those that are absolutely needed to meet our legal and operational requirements.
In addition to the innovative thinking behind this solution, it was economically designed and built, yet it still performs the same functions as expensive out-of-the-box products that require users to change the way they work.
Jesse: That’s a fascinating and innovative project. I’m excited to watch it develop. At this point in your career, you are a highly skilled and experienced individual. Looking back, what is one thing you wish you had learned earlier in your career?
Gina: There are 3 ideologies that are imperative when contributing to, or managing, an effective and innovative IM program:
- Believe in your voice. Don’t fall into the trap of continuing to use processes because that’s the way things have always be done. The IM and tech industry is constantly evolving – old solutions for managing physical or electronic information are often too rigid to apply to the world of big data.
- Don’t set yourself up for failure. Aim for good enough and build upon that.
- Consider the end user’s’ experience. Compliance is key and out of the box solutions often require changing the business’ workflow. Use solutions that are the least invasive and the most behind-the-scenes as possible – build your own solutions as necessary.
Jesse: Do you have any advice for members of the AIIM Tribe who might be just starting their careers in information management?
Ginea: A broad knowledge set is required to be successful in Information Management:
- Become familiar with basic IT coding by taking an introductory data science course
- Learn the relevant legislation that affects different types of information
- Understand the implications of access and privacy legislation as well as litigation
- Support preservation for information with enduring value
- Require the least amount of change possible from business areas when implementing IM requirements and projects
- Respect the business needs for information used in workflow
- Provide IM solutions that enhance an enterprise’s ability to create useful, clean business analytics for predictive analysis and service improvements
Jesse: I couldn’t have said it any better myself. Thank you for the chat, Gina.