First Don't Risk It! Know Your Records face to face event for decision makers

ARA starts face to face engagement on recordkeeping with leaders at eventat KPMG in Canary Wharf, London

The first Don’t Risk It! Know Your Records event for decision makers from the public and private sectors took place on 18 February. 
The ARA’s first ever campaign on records management kicked off its face to face engagement with leaders at a morning event at KPMG in Canary Wharf, London.  
Introducing the event, ARA’s President Caroline Williams, shared the core message of the campaign: ‘A poor records management culture carries profound risk, while good records management makes very good business sense’. 
DontRiskIt18Febspeakers895x644KPMG Partner Stephen Bonner described some of the pitfalls of poor records management: inappropriate storage of physical records (why were so many stores susceptible to fire and water?); the fear of discarding (‘It might be useful one day’); the belief that ‘anything stored meant it was available for retrieval’. By keeping too much, he said, money was being wasted and the important records were ‘diluted’. Seemingly small mistakes were legion: how often were retrieved paper records not returned to proper storage after use? 
Stephen estimated that digital records were now 90% of a business’s records – and about 70% of their risk. Data loss was certain, viruses and hackers probable. Professional skills to manage all aspects of threat and cost-effectiveness had never been so important.  
The UK’s Deputy Information Commissioner and Director of Freedom of Information,  Graham Smith, praised records managers as the ‘unsung heroes of the world of records’. He spoke about the ICO’s desire to work with organisations to spread good practice; if we all respected information, there would be little need for sanction. The Information Commissioner’s Office could impose substantial fines of up to £500,000 when information was not secure, but he urged listeners to think about the reputational damage of a data leak or careless act. 
In a more perfect recordkeeping world, he said, individuals would have the confidence, both to retain what was important and discard what was not and there would be a champion for information on every board or senior management team.DontRiskIt 18Febaudience 921x524
Deirdre Allison and Gillian Acheson of the Belfast Health and Social Trust Care had experienced the reputational damage: medical records were found in a disused hospital building and trust between the Trust and its community was badly damaged. Their work to ensure it never happened again had led to an organisational revolution in a very big organisation with up to 20,000 staff and dozens of buildings. Now, every member of staff received guidance and ‘good practice’ information and there was training for all who had to save and keep records. A 500-page bible of ‘how to save, keep and store’ records had been produced and well used and understood. 
DontRiskIt18Febquestiontime 919x651There were a number of questions and comments from the floor. There was recognition that some digital information was bound to be lost because of changes in technology. At least one records manager felt, sadly, that decision makers only really heard the ‘risk’ message of bad recordkeeping, rather than the benefits of good records management. There was emphasis on other aspects of the Don’t Risk It! Know Your Records campaign: that it was important for those who cared about records management to form allies within organisations. 
Don’t Risk It! Know Your Records seeks to share the risks of bad records management and the huge benefits of getting it right with those who make decisions about an organisational culture and operation; and with those who choose whether or not to employ professional records managers. The ARA is keen to help those who wish to make the right decisions about records management and wish to appoint professional staff. 
The 18 February event, and the campaign, was masterminded by members of the ARA’s own Section for Records Management and Information Governance under Chair David Jenkins. 
The ARA is very grateful to KPMG for hosting this important event. 
Photographs show:
Top, the morning's speakers, from left: Stephen Bonner, Gillian Acheson, Graham Smith and Deirdre Allison. 
Middle: the audience gathers
Bottom: questions and comments. David Jenkins, Chair of the ARA's Section for Records Management and Information Governance joins the speakers