Paving a Career Path to Increase RM Staff
and Ensure Program Success
Many organizations lack adequate dedicated records management (RM) staff to ensure efficient operations. And, in some, departments need to identify who is accountable for managing records. These challenges obligate RM professionals to become mentors, providing staff with support, training, and coaching to ensure that the RM network is functional.
Jannette Goodall, CRM
The City of Austin, Texas, strengthened its RM program by incorporating RM training into its career development plan, using a process that may be beneficial to other organizations seeking to improve or initiate an enterprise-wide RM network.
Setting the Stage
In Austin, the Records Management Services Division (RMS) within the Office of the City Clerk is responsible for managing records citywide. But, because the city’s 40-plus departments are composed of more than 12,000 employees operating in multiple locations throughout Travis County, it would be next to impossible for the corporate office alone to manage all of the records these departments generate.
Therefore, the success of the city’s corporate RM plan is dependent on a network of individual staff members within each department who are assigned to serve as liaisons to the RMS and to other departments within the city.
Establishing a Career Path
The city’s effort to create a career development plan began in 2009 when the Aviation and the Parks and Recreation departments became interested in hiring a full-time records analyst to implement the city’s RM program.
In response, the City of Austin’s Human Resources Department (HR) made two suggestions:
- Create a “job family” to provide a career path with distinct differences between the corporate RM staff and the department RM staff
- Create a certificate program based on knowledge and training that could assist staff in qualifying for the department RM positions
To initiate the process, HR and RMS conducted a job analysis to determine the job specifications for the current RMS records analyst position and any resulting new positions. During this process, the job tasks and minimum qualifications were established.
As a result of this analysis, two new positions were created: corporate records analyst and department records analyst, and the following three deliverables were established.
Create the Corporate Records Analyst Position
A corporate records analyst position needed to be created for the corporate-level RMS staff, so they could immediately and directly support the department records analysts as they came on line in departments located in various places around Austin.
This new corporate-level position (corporate records analyst) benefited existing staff in that:
- They received an additional 5% increase on top of any regular annual increase.
- It incorporated the Certified Records Manager (CRM) credential as a preferred qualification for the position, providing the justification to build costs and fees associated with obtaining the certification into the department budget. (Currently, there are three CRMs and two candidates.)
- They received a new title that clearly delineates their role as a corporate position.
Create the Department Records Analyst Position
A job description for the department records analyst position was developed. Because this position would not report directly to the Office of the City Clerk, it was important to build into the job description an informal reporting structure. Joint meetings between the Human Resources (HR), RM, and other departments were held to document the needs of the city and the departments.
To increase the potential for existing city staff to qualify for these new positions, it was apparent a RIM certificate program would be essential and that it needed to be tied to the department records analyst positions.
During the job analysis phase, the minimum qualification for the department position was determined to be a degree from an accredited four-year college or university plus one year of RM experience. To help internal candidates qualify for the new positions, completion of the city’s RIM certificate program may be substituted for two years of job experience or education.
Develop a RIM Certificate Program
The RIM certificate program was developed as a means to encourage and improve internal promotional opportunities for department records analysts. RMS created the program description, requirements, and forms, which were then submitted to HR. The goal of the program is to provide a career development path for city staff interested in RM as a career.
The objectives of the program are to:
- Enhance professional development for members of the department’s records management team and other city employees interested in the area of RM
- Offer a career development goal for participants
- Foster professional networking be tween the Office of the City Clerk, departments, and other RM organizations
In developing the program, the city relied on ARMA International’s Records and Information Management Core Competencies for the guiding principles, tweaking them to fit into the city’s RM plan. The city’s program requires an individual to complete a minimum of 40 hours of training in the six core competency areas below, including at least two hours in each area:
- RIM principles – addresses basic RM principles, records lifecycle, records inventory, records retention schedules, and dispositionVital records and disaster planning – includes identifying vital records, creating disaster plans, protection methods, recovery planning, and risk assessment
- Files and forms management – explains centralized/decentralized filing systems, taxonomy, recordkeeping systems/equipment, and forms use and design
- Corporate criteria for media selection and preservation – focuses on basic archival theory, micrographics, storage of inactive records, and media preservation
- Electronic records management – deals with technology terminology, preservation of electronic records, data migration, and software selection
- Marketing and managing your RIM program – explains standard operating procedures, marketing, website development and maintenance, grant writing, project management, budget, audit, and legal requirements.
The 40 hours must be completed within four years after RMS approves a staff member’s application to the program, and those who complete the
program also must commit to completing a minimum of four hours of RM training annually.
Successful participants receive a framed certificate of completion.
Since implementing the program in 2009, the following positive outcomes have occurred:
- Twenty-nine staff members have completed the certificate program.
- Thirty-three are currently approved and participating in the certificate program.
- Seven departments have hired department records analysts; four of them were promoted from within the city.
- The city has four CRMs (three within the Office of the City Clerk and one within a department); five additional staff members are working toward their CRM designation.
- Eighteen staff members have joined ARMA International; five are active on the Austin Chapter Board of Directors.
- The number of RM professionals increased without any additional cost to the RMS budget.
- The number of trainings provided by RM increased by 34%.
- The number of attendees attending the trainings increased by 87%.
A benefit of the program that was not anticipated is the departments’ continued support for staff members who have either completed the program or are currently enrolled. This positive outcome is demonstrated by the
increased number of staff throughout the city who are members of ARMA International and who attend local chapter events.
Investing in Staff: The ROI
The city has doubled the dedicated RM staff since implementing the program. Quarterly meetings are held between the department records analysts and RMS to ensure all staff members receive the support they need and to provide mentoring and coaching for new staff.
RM duties within the department are attracting people who are interested in the opportunities for career
development. In addition, department compliance with the city’s RM program increases annually through the consistent support of dedicated and trained staff.
By investing in the development of well-prepared staff throughout the city departments, RM tasks are now considered professional tasks and not one of the “other-duties-asassigned” tasks. While the City of Austin still has progress to make with its RM program, the investment in staff is having a positive impact.
The certificate program will have a lasting impact on RM within the city and also within the Central Texas area. It is expected that some of the staff the city has invested time and resources in will move on to bigger and better positions within the RM field.
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Jannette Goodall, CRM, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From September - October 2012