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Managing Electronic Records for transnational organisations

Award Information

AHRC ref: AH/D001935/1
Discipline: Library & Information Services
Funding opportunity: Research Grant
Areas of Impact: nowledge Exchange; Policy influence
Lead RO: Northumbria University
Region: North East

The increasing use of electronic records has required more sophisticated and efficient records management systems and strategies. An AHRC funded project has helped to transform the way the United Nations’ Archives and Records Management Service (ARMS) approaches its electronic records management (ERM).

The ground-breaking research project 'Accelerating positive change in electronic records management' led by Professor Julie McLeod at the Northumbria University focused on understanding the issues and developing practical strategies around the design of an architecture for organisations to better manage their electronic records, and has benefitted records management practitioners in the UK and internationally. Effective ERM strategies are essential for organisations to successfully manage, curate, access, use, share and protect their information.

For example, a key beneficiary of the research was the United Nations Secretariat’s Archives and Record Management Service (ARMS) based in New York and subsequently ERM professionals working across the UN Secretariat, as ARMS directs policy for eight duty stations worldwide and 30,000 members of staff. ARMS is responsible for all aspects of UN recordkeeping, ranging from measures to ensure that United Nations officials create records in the course of their duties, through the management of records in United Nations offices, to preserving and making records of continuing value accessible as United Nations archives.

The ARMS Chief noted that the project’s global and diverse operational scope “…make it particularly valuable” to the organisation’s operational environment.  The research “…jump-started our strategic planning, we’re using it now to flesh out an ERM roadmap… Quite simply an invaluable resource”. It led to the development of practical guidance for UN staff worldwide on risks associated with managing electronic records. The research also influenced ARMS’ ERM solution selection which enabled the organisation “to realize cost avoidance to the organization in the order of $300k.”

The research project, which had involved 200 multi-disciplinary professionals and academics to create the evidence base, found that people issues, rather than systems or technology, are at the heart of the challenge, and as a result the practitioners themselves must be central to the solution. The impact of the research has reached information, records and archives practitioners globally, in a range of organisations and sectors such as financial services and the public sector, as well as being cited by major publications such as one from the Council of Canadian Academies. Continuing professional development activities are being shaped by the findings, not only in the UK but also in China, Canada, New Zealand, and Scandinavia. The transformative findings of this project are changing how an entire professional sector thinks and operates and will continue to influence this sector for many years to come.

For more information on the project visit: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/5604/

Gateway to Research Project Links: Accelerating Postitive Change in Electronic Records. Understanding issues and developing practical approaches, Oct 06 - Mar 10.

Associated image: Eric Fischer on Flickr by CC 2.0