Three records management specialists from across industries came together to present their recent tips and best practices for ensuring the success of change initiatives, particularly widespread initiatives to revitalize records management programs. They shared their stories, the insight they gained from their experiences, and the strategies that helped them build momentum for their projects, from the initial planning stages to full implementation.

Here are some of the top tips they shared:


Know Your Audience

While everyone will be eager to learn about the change initiative, managers will have specific business concerns. To get them onboard with change, you need to address cost, resources and how the planned changes will affect the organization. The best way to secure their support is to start by developing a thorough analysis of the problem and a corresponding plan of action. While plans will almost certainly change, a good one will provide a starting point and can help serve as a project roadmap. When developing your plan, try to anticipate the kinds of questions they’ll ask and incorporate that information—this will help strengthen your case and also speed up the review process.

When it comes to those who will be using the new records management program on a regular basis, the main concern will be how individuals’ work will be affected by the changes. Demonstrations and user training can help dispel doubts about the new system by turning the unknown into the familiar and lessening the learning curve. Additionally, appointing a project owner who can train with the new system and be available for questions is an essential way to provide support.


Focus on Those Who are Eager for Change

Some will dig in their heels to resist change, but others will embrace the opportunity for improvement. Seek out those who are dissatisfied with the status quo and enlist their support in convincing others that change needs to happen. Management is more likely to be convinced if they hear about the problems with the current program regularly and from a multitude of sources, so encourage others to share their concerns.

When you start to implement your initiative, begin with those groups who invite change. Their success and willingness to adopt the new program will help inspire others to get onboard, especially if the new program makes their work easier and faster. Also, look for people who were using best practices even before changes were implemented—they can be a positive example for others. Finally, remember that people outside your organization can be a force for change. If your initiative will help make your organization’s services easier to access, make sure those affected have a way to voice their support.


Provide Opportunities for Feedback

One of the best ways to get people onboard with your initiative is to provide opportunities for them to shape the development of the new program. Meet with stakeholders before beginning work on any implementation to determine their needs. This will help to ensure that the new system is customized to each department’s individual requirements. Additionally, developing a statement of work will clarify expectations for the project, including outlining people’s responsibilities.

While working on implementations, preview demonstrations can help users feel like they’re being kept in the loop, and allowing them to give feedback lets them take part in the change, rather than feeling like it’s being forced on them. It’s also a great way to uncover any system requirements that might not have been established at the outset of the project.


Finally, remember that changes always take time. It’s difficult for people to overcome habits that have been built up over months and years, but with strategies like soliciting feedback and providing training, there will be fewer bumps in the road. With hard work and patience, your changes will eventually become the new normal.


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