The Best Conferences for Records Managers
Jesse Wilkins

By: Jesse Wilkins on January 14th, 2020

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The Best Conferences for Records Managers

Electronic Records Management (ERM)  |  AIIM Conference

There are many ways to learn beyond the traditional training course. I believe that one of the very best opportunities to learn comes from attending a conference. The sessions at most conferences are generally very good, but there is a bigger benefit for me. That's the opportunity to learn from my peers and colleagues, especially those from disciplines or industries I have less exposure to. It’s those conversations in the halls between sessions, during the lunch break, or after hours at the karaoke bar that can often provide new insights or new ways of looking at things.

When I'm teaching AIIM courses or speaking at local events, sometimes I get asked, "We know about The AIIM Conference - what are some other conferences that are worth checking out?"

With so many options for conferences out there, I thought I'd zero in on a list of the best conferences for records managers. For each conference, I’ve listed the basic info, including when and where it takes place and the 2020 event details when available. I should also note that my list is somewhat U.S.-centric because these are the ones I'm most familiar with. I would welcome your additions to this list!

The AIIM Conference 2021: Go big and stay home! The coolest conference for  information professionals is going digital.

  • ARMA Live

    This is ARMA International's annual conference focused on the theory and practice of records management and information governance.
    • When: It takes place in the fall in the U.S.
    • Where: The location of this conference varies by year.
    • 2020 Event Details: ARMA Live 2020 is scheduled for Oct 26-28, 2020, in Detroit, MI.

  • The MER Conference

    The MER Conference focuses on information governance and strategies for managing digital information throughout its lifecycle. Originally established by Cohasset Associates, this stand-alone event is held annually.
    • When: This conference takes place in May.
    • Where: Chicago, IL.
    • 2020 Event Details: MER 2020 is scheduled for May 4-6, 2020.

  • Information and Records Management Society (IRMS) Conference

    This conference focuses on the practice of information and records management in the United Kingdom, with significant focus on government. This event is held every year in the United Kingdom.
    • When: This conference takes place in May.
    • Where: The location of this conference varies by year.
    • 2020 Event Details: The 2020 Conference is scheduled for May 17-19, 2020, in Birmingham, UK.

  • Global Privacy Summit

     This is the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) annual conference. While this is not a records management conference, strictly speaking, privacy and data protection is one of the key skills I think all records managers can benefit from.
    • When: This conference takes place in late spring.
    • Where: Washington, D.C.
    • 2020 Details: This year’s event is scheduled for April 7-8, 2020.

The Best Conferences for Records Managers 2

Tips to Finding Other Events

I don’t identify specific conferences in this section because there are far too many options to consider. But I think that records managers should do some research here and, based on these considerations, determine whether there is a conference that might be of value, at least for the in-person learning and networking opportunities.

  • Geographic Area: There are records and information management conferences all over the world. We already mentioned ARMA Live; if you’re in Canada, maybe ARMA Live Canada would be a good fit. Similarly, if you’re in Australia, the RIMPA Live Convention would have content and attendees that get the nuances of records management in Australia. The Georgia Records Association holds an annual event every year. And so forth.

    So check your local, state/provincial, and regional records and information management authorities and associations.

  • Related Disciplines: These are conferences that are more focused on “nearby” disciplines that records managers may need to interact with but are not records management per se. We already mentioned IAPP’s events; other examples here might include project management conferences, change management, legal or e-discovery, knowledge management, process improvement, information security, and a host of others.

    Think about what you want or need to know about information management beyond pure records management, and then seek out those events.

  • Vertical Sectors: It’s hard to manage your organization’s records effectively and strategically without understanding the business it’s in. You can look at this through two filters.

    The first is the vertical sector within which your organization operates. For example, if you’re in the nuclear energy sector, the Nuclear Information and Records Management Association (NIRMA) annual conference might be a good one to look into. If you work in the health services sector, you might check out AHIMA International’s events or the HIMSS annual conference. And if you work in U.S. government archives or records management, you might be interested in the annual NAGARA conference.

  • Horizontal Processes: Similarly, records managers can learn a lot about how horizontal processes like finance or HR work by looking at those types of events. For example, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers an annual conference that focuses on all things HR-related.

  • Vendor-Specific Conferences: While most conferences offer an expo floor with vendors, these conferences are unique in that they are very specific to a particular hardware or software solution.

    Most larger solution providers offer an annual event and may offer smaller regional or local events as well. These can be a great way to learn about the solution you’re using, how it manages records and other information effectively, how you could leverage its capabilities to the fullest, etc.

    It’s also a fantastic opportunity to meet with other customers using the same tool and share lessons learned, best practices, and so forth.

To Go – Or Not to Go

I firmly believe that every records manager can benefit from attending an in-person event like a conference. With constant changes in the industry, regulatory requirements, and technology, conferences offer a one-stop place to learn about them all. More importantly, you’ll make the contacts you need to help you prepare for those changes.

There are a lot of conferences vying for your attention and budget each year. If you need help solving your biggest information-driven challenges, The AIIM Conference is one you can't miss. But don't take our word for it, check out what we have planned for this year's event.


The AIIM Conference 2021