At first glance, a records management impact calculator does not seem like the most interesting thing, but the new JISC Impact Calculator is a must-have for anyone trying to justify improvements to their records management program.
There are numerous studies and reports showing the benefits to having a coordinated records management plan and the problems that arise from not having one. For many institutions though, these studies don’t seem to reach the right people. Nobody wants to admit that organizing records costs money.
Even when an organization recognizes the need for a records management plan, most will undervalue the actual cost of such a plan. This is true across organizations of all sizes, but especially for small businesses. For example, I recently met with the director of a small human resources firm to discuss the records management problems his company was having. Files were difficult to locate, duplicates would up everywhere, everyone who accessed the server could create new folders, and the paper filing cabinet reflected the manner in which the owner thought about his clients and not the way he thought about his records or his business. The owner and his staff routinely found it difficult to locate files or know where to put files. I proposed a modest records management plan that would harmonize the paper filing cabinet with the server, recommend retention periods for different types of records, and generally reorganize the file to reflect the organization of his business. The total amount this director was hoping to spend on such plan? $200-300. I informed this business owner that records management consultants charge at an absolute minimum $25/hour and most charge double that or more. Needless to say, we did not proceed with my recommendations. It seems that when the economy is tough and businesses trim costs, records management consultations are among the first to go.
In comes the Records Management Impact Calculator.
The calculator is an easy way to quantify the benefits of having a records management plan. It captures and measures performance information before and after a records management initiative and the cost of implementation. This gives an organization a clear picture of the pros and cons of implementing a records management initiative, in monetary and non-monetary terms.
Using the calculator (which is actually a spiffed up Microsoft Excel 2007 spreadsheet) is as simple as identifying the benefits you wish to measure, measuring the current state of your records management processes, and measuring the state of those processes after the changes. Be prepared though, you will need access to a substantial amount of data to completely fill out the spreadsheet. After you enter your data, it will calculate the impact of the changes in your own terms.
This kind of tool is particularly useful when you are confronted with the need to justify or legitimize a records management program and its expenses to cost-cutting budget managers. If you can demonstrate in quantitative terms that overall costs will increase unless proper action is taken to address records management, you will have a strong case.