Friday, 13 April 2012

Friday Fail: Worst Workplace Romance


Tired of success stories? Every Friday on we bring you epic tales of failure and shame. This week: Good lovin' gone bad in the office.
office romance


Most people like a good success story, but who can resist an epic tale of disaster, humiliation, embarrassment, and shame? I know I can't.

This week it's Worst Workplace Romance: The dumbest fling, the one with the worst consequences, the one that was carried out less than discreetly...
Here we go:

4. The Telltale Hands

I am a waiter (I'm female but we are all called "waiters") in a hipster restaurant in NYC. We wear white blouses, black skirts, black hose, and small black aprons. One of the other girls had a thing for one of the chefs. She was like a frenzied Halley's Comet, somehow her orbit took her into one of the pantries every time a certain chef went inside. They would only be in there for a minute or so, so it was no big deal.
Until one day. She came out and sashayed by me. I turned to look and she had two white flour handprints on her apron. I started to track her down but the owner got to her first. She took off her apron kind of sheepishly and scurried away.
Too bad there were white handprints on her skirt too.—Michaela

3. All That Glitters...

Sometimes the owner and a few of his "boys" go out for lunch and come back smelling like they took a perfume bath, and not in a sparkling, lingering, subtle hint of flower kind of way either. They come back smelling like a French ladies of ill repute house.
The smell was bad enough but then I started noticing glitter on the conference room table and chairs. Hmm, glitter and perfume? I'm not a rocket scientist, but it was easy to figure out. There are a few "gentlemen's clubs" near our office.
One day my wife noticed glitter on the back of my sweater. It had to come from a conference room chair. She found that hard to believe, but luckily she let it go.
Evidently something similar happened to one of the owner's buddies, so now the cleaning staff pays extra attention to all the chairs and upholstery in our office.
I'm not sure it will help, because one of our new temps, whose credentials are suspect but charms are undeniable, seems to be a real fan of glitter.—Bernardus

2. 50/50

You're probably looking for funny stories but this one isn't. The owners of the company I worked for were married and each owned half of the business. Not 51/49, but 50/50. The wife walked into his office one day and told him she wanted a divorce. (I sat at the desk right outside of his office so I heard everything.) First he begged, then he cried, then he started yelling. Ugly.
Two weeks later he starts dating a sales rep. Openly. He figures his wife wants a divorce, so what does she care. Well, she does care. So she fires the sales rep. He hires her back. She fires her again. He doesn't hire her back because now he's dating a woman in accounting. So I guess her getting fired worked out for him after all.
Then the wife starts dating some guy who works in the warehouse. Somehow that guy gets promoted a week after they start dating. Then she dumps him. At least he got to keep his promotion.
What had been a pretty good company was a disaster.
They eventually got a divorce but they both kept equal ownership shares and still work there. I don't, though.—Name withheld by request

1. Roll the Videotape

Years ago the company I worked for decided to install security cameras in various parts of the facility. Some were for security reasons, like at entrance doors, but others were supposed to cut down on employee theft. Seemed a little Big Brother-ish, but it was hard to complain since the only reason you can get upset is if you get caught doing something you shouldn't be doing, right?
The company installs the cameras over a weekend when people are off. On Monday they come in to demo the system. Me, the CEO, the controller, and a few other managers are sitting in the conference room watching the tech scroll through different views from different cameras.
We sat there kind of bored until we got a view of one of the supply rooms. Two employees were getting intimate. Because of the camera angle we could see his face but not hers.
"Is that...?" someone said.
"Yep," someone answered. "That's the HR manager."
"Who's the woman?" someone else asked. "I don't recognize her but she looks kinda hot."
The CEO, who was the most buttoned-down, formal, by the book person I ever met, shocked us all when he said, "She is kinda hot."
We stared at him. "Well, I should know," he said. "I think that's my wife."
The HR manager was fired but oddly enough the CEO's wife kept her job.—Ian


Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Elton John Tickets

We have two tickets to the Elton John Concert, April 24  in Lethbidge Alberta, we are giving them away, just like us on facebook, Follow us on Twitter or  better yet, drop us an email or phone callto enter,

Future of Paper Records

Many organizations have successfully migrated to paperless recordkeeping for specific business processes and implemented the appropriate backup and migration strategies to ensure lifecycle access and integrity. This takes a significant amount of commitment, planning, and business process redesign. Nobody makes that sort of investment just for the sake of going paperless, so we will no doubt be dealing with paper records for some time to come.

However, I certainly wouldn't base a go-no go decision on ERM solely on fears of technology failure. Like any other records repository choice, you just have to make sure you mitigate the risks by implementing the right controls. If you failed to keep backups and your system crashes, it's the same as storing your paper records in a low-lying area prone to flooding. If you can't open that 10-year-old word processing document because your current software doesn't recognize the format, you failed to implement a migration strategy. If the global technology infrastructure fails and wipes out everybody's systems, we'll all have much bigger problems to deal with.                   

Monday, 12 March 2012

Cost Savings & Efficiency Opps



Infrastructure Costs: Documents take up space, and

space costs money. You want to minimize the amount

of valuable real estate dedicated to storing information,

so that space can be put to more valuable use. You also

want to identify and cut the hidden costs associated with

storing, retaining, and shredding paper.


Productivity Costs: The time spent searching for,

waiting for, or simply handling information drives up

inefficiency and costs. It also does little to energize

your business.


Compliance Costs: The fines and penalties associated

with the inability to show consistent processes for

protecting vital records, proving chain-of-custody, and

safeguarding private information can be staggering.


Litigation and Audit Support Costs: An external

audit of your records or a legal action involving

your company can be quite costly unless you are

well prepared to face outside scrutiny. The disruption

to your everyday operations, as well as the potential

penalties for non-compliance, can put your business

at risk.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Why Effective Records Management Matters in a Democracy

Typically, the justification for a records management (RM) program is tied to cost cutting, efficiency, and managing risk. While certainly important pieces of records management, for government records managers there is an additional and significant reason for a RM program.

Government archivists and records managers typically are guided by mission statements that focus on preserving and documenting government institutions. One of three elements of the Utah State Archives and Records Service mission is to preserve records of enduring value. The National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) mission statement states that one of its goals is “safeguarding and preserving the records of our Government” so that citizens have access to the records that document their rights. These missions are partly outward facing and concerned with providing sufficient evidence of government actions so that citizens can access and understand the decisions of government officials. Records document actions taken by the government. Keeping records in democratic governments matters because the government must be accountable to its citizens. Records are neutral; they can be used in a variety of ways – Some positive, and some negative. For example, the records collected in Paraguay’s Archives of Terror demonstrate that the same set of records might be used to oppress or, ultimately, to seek justice and reconciliation.  

According to NARA 1-3 percent of the records created by federal agencies have long-term legal or historical value. The Utah State Archives estimates that approximately 5 percent of the records created by state, county, and municipal agencies are retained permanently as part of the state’s historical record. It is the responsibility of government records managers to create and follow retention schedules that will determine how long records are kept. As retention schedules are applied records managers sift through and reduce a government’s records, leaving behind the materials that will become the entity’s documentary heritage. Records managers are actively involved in ensuring that records that need to be kept are kept, while those that need to be destroyed are destroyed. By reducing the records static – those records that have temporary value – records managers help clarify and focus the historic record that remains. This is not a task to be taken lightly, and it is one that cannot be avoided as each decision to keep or destroy a record represents a privileging of the stories that can be told from that record. 

Verne Harris argues that all records are essentially tied up in storytelling. He writes, “Telling stories of our past is a quintessentially human activity. Story is crucial to our construction of meaning and is carried by our dream of the impossible. Without story we are without soul.”[1] As records managers we are a part of the records making process. We have a role to play in shaping the story that will be told about the institutions we serve and, in the end, about ourselves.

[1] Verne Harris, “Postmodernism and Archival Appraisal: Seven Theses,” in Archives and Justice: A South African Perspective (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2007), 102.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Why Records Management?


By Priscilla Emery                                

Ed.'s Note: This article is excerpted from the Records Management Report, published by CMS Watch.

To some, managing records represents one of the most boring and onerous business functions that anyone could possibly undertake within an organization. Of course, most people don’t even understand what records management is -- making it easy to malign an activity that is so misunderstood.
Indeed records management crosses numerous disciplines. Did you know…
  • That categorization and indexing are two elements that are critical to the success of a records management program? Sounds a little like knowledge management.
  • That vital records preservation is one of the key steps in developing a disaster recovery plan? Sounds like infrastructure management.
  • That by ignoring records management policies employees and their companies can potentially end up facing criminal penalties? Sounds like a legal profession.
  • What led to Arthur Andersen’s downfall? Shredding — inappropriate shredding — shredding of records that should have been retained according to the policies of both Andersen and Enron.

Despite what people may say, what you don’t know can hurt you and, in the case of records management, what you choose to ignore can cripple you and your organization.

Recent dramatic headlines have made it quite apparent that records management (or the lack thereof) is an essential activity to ascertain and confirm the credibility of many business transactions and government activities. The proliferation of electronic documents (especially e-mails) and the potential litigation exposure that they cause are becoming the bane of legal advisors and records managers in many corporations and government agencies. Microsoft, Texaco and other Fortune 500 companies have taken hits from “runaway” e-mails introduced as evidence in high stakes cases.

But, to records managers e-mail is just another record type in the scheme of things (not a trivial record type but a record type just the same). They know that in fact, “smoking guns” can come in many different guises, including: paper, electronic image files, video tape, voice recordings, etc. It’s all potential evidence and therefore potential deposition fodder. Making sure that all the relevant information is accessible in a timely fashion, should an organization need to defend itself in a lawsuit, is also what records managers are responsible for.

These days a records manager’s job is anything but boring, and in many organizations there aren’t enough of them to handle the increased compliance laws and regulations that have cropped up in recent months.

Not surprisingly, then, many companies are looking at records management software as a way to get a better grip on the increased volume of all kinds of records. Although that approach can help, a basic understanding of what records management is and its concomitant practices are required before even looking at any software product. If you don’t have a records management policy in place along with the appropriate retention and destruction rules for the records, the software will be useless.

What is Records Management?

There are many different definitions of records management but one that I like the best is,

“A professional discipline that is primarily concerned with the management of document-based information systems. The application of systematic and scientific controls to recorded information required in the operation of an organization’s business. The systematic control of all organizational records during the various stages of their life cycle: from their creation or receipt, through their processing, distribution, maintenance and use, to their ultimate disposition. The purpose of records management is to promote economies and efficiencies in recordkeeping, to assure that useless records are systematically destroyed while valuable information is protected and maintained in a manner that facilitates its access and use.”

Some people have the mistaken impression that records management is about hoarding everything that comes across one’s desk in the course of doing business. In some highly regulated industries it may seem that is the case. But in most cases it’s not only making sure that what needs to be kept as a record is retained but also prescribing how long it should be kept, where it should be stored, who has access to it and when it should be destroyed (if ever).

There is even an ISO standard for developing a records management program (ISO 15489). However, even though records retention practices are considered systematic and scientific, deciding what is a record and how long it should be retained is a combination of both prescribed practice and a certain amount of subjectivity depending on the actual documents in question. Just defining what is a record can get somewhat confusing to people.

What is a Record?

According to the Federal Records Act a record is, “recorded information, regardless of medium or characteristics, made or received by an organization that is evidence of its operations and has value requiring its retention for a specific period of time.”

According to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) records include,
“… all books, papers, maps, photographs, machine-readable materials, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by an agency of the U. S. Government under Federal law or in connection with the transaction of public business and preserved or appropriate for preservation by that agency or its legitimate successor as evidence of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the Government or because of the informational value of the data in them.”

Got it?

This can be confusing for non-governmental organizations that don’t believe that these definitions necessarily apply to them so a more generic definition would be that records are recorded information, regardless of physical form, that are generated or received and used while conducting business, and preserved because of their informational value or as evidence of an organization’s functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, mission, programs, projects, and activities.

This is why there is no real cookie-cutter approach to defining a records retention program for every document out there — every company has to look at its own business operations and examine what should be considered a record and then decide what retention rules to apply against them. Again, the government and other industry regulators may help in that decision by defining exactly what they expect to see if they have to do an audit or investigation, but audits and investigations aren’t the only reasons to have a records management program.

There are other ways to determine if an information item should be considered a record or not:
  • Does the information document your daily business process?
  • Does the information provide input to a mission-critical business decision?
  • Does the information provide evidence as to whcy a business decision was made?
  • Is the information required for legal, fiscal, audit, or tax purposes?

"Vital Records" contain unique or irreplaceable information and require special protection, such as articles of incorporation, annual reports and shareholder records. These should be defined as an integral part of a disaster recovery plan or operation.

RM Programs, RM Software

Essential elements of a records management program include a records retention policy and a set of procedures where records are classified, retention periods are defined and destruction procedures are prescribed. Classification of records and then maintaining them with the appropriate metadata are necessary so that this information can be retrieved quickly when required.
Record integrity depends on three attributes: content, context, and the structure of the original record. Authenticity is very important to determining if a piece of information is the “true” record of an event or business transaction, which is why the management of electronic records, most especially e-mails, web pages and instant messages, is so problematic. The ability to generate larger volumes of records in a shorter period of time has increased the productivity of many organizations but that productivity gain can be lost if essential records can’t be found during the course of doing business or, in even more critical procedures such as when an audit takes place or a legal discovery of evidence is required. Finding lost records costs money in terms of lost productivity and in more the substantial costs of fines, court costs and lawsuit settlement costs.

Hence the need for records management software that aid in the record repository management activities of many organizations. These products help users:
  • manage retention schedules,
  • store records in their appropriate classifications along with the prescribed metadata,
  • search for records when required,
  • destroy records according to prescribed schedules,
  • put holds on records so they don’t get destroyed while the company goes through an audit or investigation, and
  • track the access of the record over its active and in-active life cycle.

In many cases these systems track not only electronic documents but also other record objects such as paper, boxes and tapes...

Amid all the focus on key records management features such as record declaration and standards certification, one key factor sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. Records management is a core activity within many different business processes within the organization itself. It is in and of itself not meant to be the core application. Just like filing is an adjunct activity to one's work, records management must fit into the core business process in order to be truly effective.
Therefore, technological elegance shouldn't be the focus -- integration with core business processes is more important. Ability to support and integrate with key business applications and be imbedded as an activity within a workflow should become more important evaluation criteria in the long run.