A basic financial accounting text will reveal two immediate items of importance: accounting is a game of logic and accounting is based on records. The discipline of accounting is the analysis and application of records content to determine an entity's strength. The tenets of the profession are based on Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), which are rules and jargon that govern the calculation of a particular entity's value. Similarly, in records management we have essential rules to establish the length of time at which we should retain content for the intellectual health of the organization (records are assets). I understand RIM theory in the following manner:
1. Establishing a Records Program
2. The Records Policy
3. The Records Inventory
4. The File Plan
5. The Retention Schedule
6. Managing Active Records
7. Managing Inactive Records
8. Managing the Program
9. Auditing the Program
This is our foundation for Generally Accepted Records Principles (GARP). Generally Accepted Records Principles are the tenets records colleagues agree to be universally true and influence the decisions we make daily. We establish rules and jargon to declare the inherent beliefs of our own new records management. Please understand: I do not begrudge Records colleagues their need for specializations (ex. legal records management). The above principles are more...broadly based. However, we must decide whether content or technology will rule. The skill sets for the twenty-first century will be derived once we acknowledge that the integration of general records management into partnered disciplines is of great interest. We must discuss openly whether it is possible for an electronic record to be vital if it is copied in multiple locations. We must decide the true definition of compliance. We must ensure the work we've accomplished in the past 100 years will survive to create a strong interdisciplinary member of the corporate team in the form of a new records manager.
Originally published in the ARMAdilla, July 2005.