Records Management Vs. Information Governance - It
Sean McGauley

By: Sean McGauley on November 5th, 2020

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Records Management Vs. Information Governance - It's AND not OR

Information Governance  |  Electronic Records Management (ERM)  |  Automation

When the dominant terminologies to describe a problem change, there is often a corresponding confusion in the roles that individuals play.

In the broader content space, we experienced some of this disorientation as the core language used shifted from “ECM” to “Content Services,” and then with the incorporation of “Content Services” into the broader framework of “Intelligent Information Management.”

This same terminology disorientation has been true in the governance arena as well, with varying uses and interpretations of “Records Management” and “Information Governance.”

The confusion has left some organizations asking,

“Do we need Records Managers, or do we need Information Governance professionals?”

Get Your Free Report: Balancing Records Management and Information Governance

The simple answer is “yes” to both. But, this terminology disorientation still presents a major challenge for Records Managers as confusion around these two terms grows. It's created this false debate of one vs another, when in all actuality these two separate and distinct practices work together and build off of one another.

Let's take a deeper look at what's going on.

An Inside Look at the Information Governance VS. Records Management "Debate"

While researching this topic, AIIM assembled a panel of records management and governance executives for their expertise and comments. Here, real users from both sides weigh in on the terminology disorientation:

  • "I look at records management as more of a tactical terminology; the core tenets of records management are intended to be more tactical. RM developed in a time before technology, and I think that records management continues to be kind of a tactical term. Information governance is a more strategic concept sitting on top of records management. Records management is an important component – but only ONE component under the information governance umbrella."

  • "Records management is more down and dirty; information governance is more strategic. People love paper. They love to work off of paper. People do see the value in having digital records, but they just want their paper and people get fussy about it when you try to take it away. We still have people who get an email, then print it, and then scan it. People like the idea of not having paper. But often only theoretically."

  • "There’s a reason that “content” has been a weird niche for a long time. And that’s because data and content are different disciplines with different approaches and different strategies. Those of us on the unstructured information side are used to dealing with lots of crazy forms of information and figuring out how you put structure around it. And if we could convince our organizations of that, that’s a huge upward career path for records managers."

Differentiate by Standing Out

Sometimes the best way to differentiate yourself is to stand out and carve your own niche. If you push the limits of one practice, it becomes more and more obvious where the lines of separation lie.

Here at AIIM, we believe that Records Managers need to view these challenges as an opportunity to better position their value moving forward. Differentiate from Information Governance by focusing on expanding the role of Records Management. Here are four ways to expand the role of RM:

  1. Focus on value, not just cost and risk – Flip the script on Records Management. Good RM practices can go beyond reducing cost and risk to provide real business value.

  2. Embed records functionality within core processes, not as a separate add-on.

  3. Take records management out of the hands of knowledge workers – they have enough to do. This is the surest path to buy-in and greater productivity.

  4. Automate the disposition process – a challenging task, as we’ll discover in the next section – as the most direct means to reduce risk and cost.

These recommendations expand what we know of traditional Records Management into a more value-based approach or Modern Records Management.

This was just one of the interesting themes to come from AIIM's research on balancing records management and information governance. Click here for a copy of the research and to learn more about the modern approach. 


Free eBook: Balancing Records Management and Information Governance