Nay, try establishing, enhancing, and protecting a Records and Information Management program without a policy. Whether a Records Manager is blessed with the opportunity to develop one from scratch or inherits, the first step towards credibility of a records program is a written declaration of purpose. It is our most basic rule of thumb that a Records Management Program cannot endure without upper management support. The policy should be simple but encompassing.
It may be structured into three main parts--this is who we are, this is what we do, this will be our future. Or, it is a simple statement of "we work, therefore we are", followed by bullet points supporting the claim. Custom dictates it mimics company policy (which will satisfy the management team). Readers will find often in the first sentence, appropriate words like "vision" and "mission". The script mentions "records and information management" at least once. Gerunds are popular for bullet points.
Many programs have secondary policies for particular functions and technologies (for example, an email policy) but the policies are rarely enforced. Place the mission statement as the declaration of purpose on the department's webpage. Accompany all policies with procedures and training modules. Change management is the responsibility of every Records Manager, knowledge management is the result of the good policy, and the company intranet is the beginning.
Originally published in the ARMAdilla, November 2005.