From Servers to Filing Cabinets: Information is a Vital Asset

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of working in Information Management (IM). At that time, it became instilled in me how important information and data are to the Government of Canada – to all organizations for that matter. However, trying to spread my IM enthusiasm to colleagues was a different story. I could see their eyes begin to gloss over when I would bring up the topic in conversation.

In their defence, I know some had been traumatized by RDIMS (Records Documents and Information Management System) because they didn’t quite fully understand it. They never embraced it because they had developed a mental block towards the technology aspects. In their eyes, it became more of a barrier than an essential business tool.

Since then, many departments have successfully rolled out GCDOCS, an enterprise content management solution – by setting up recordkeeping foundations that focus on people and programs, rather than technical issues. With the staggered implementation, individuals are spending time in learning labs – which enables them to fully understand the benefits of using the tool and learn ways that they can use it to their advantage. Colleagues I have spoken to that have completed the GCDOCS training have a positive outlook and are excited about the possibilities that GCDOCS brings to their working environment.

When I worked in both Information Technology and Information Management they were separate divisions. Since then, they have merged and work together hand-in-hand. The common denominator of servers (IT) versus filing cabinets (IM) is the information they contain. The information is the asset – IT and IM Management are the mechanisms. Many departments are adopting digital approaches to IM, including having information open by default to promote information sharing in line with social behaviours.

The organizational culture and leadership are crucial to an effective IM infrastructure and IM approach. Information should be seen as a corporate resource that needs to be shared effectively across Government. Information is a valuable asset and we must manage information as effectively as we manage all other tangible assets.

We need to share, adapt and celebrate our IM successes across the Government of Canada. For instance, the Information Management Team at Canadian Heritage won an award for furthering Business Excellence through recordkeeping and business process standardization. As well, Public Safety has set up DG Accountability Agreements for ownership of information in program areas.

Information architectures are being built that reflect the way government operations and internal services do their business. The Language of IM is changing to better align to the work of government, to better support program and service delivery needs. Individuals are beginning to see the relationship between IM and Open Government philosophies.
Fundamentally, Information Mangement is the responsibilty of each and every one of us – to manage information as a vital asset. I encourage you to incorporate IM discussions into your team meetings and daily interactions. Talk to your IM Specialists – they have the tools, guidelines and expertise to share with you so that you can make IM a seamless part of your daily routine.

I am looking forward to attending Sharon Henhoeffer’s “From Information Mangement to Open Information: The New IM” session. She will be speaking about how outside the government, information is the fuel of business growth, efficiency, and the customer and employee experience. These organizations started out by understanding that mobility, open, and digital are more about the motivations for using and sharing information than they are about technology and tools. Good business is about encouraging behaviours of information sharing and collaboration.

Just in case you missed it, check out Sharon’s GTEC blog post “A Mighty Vision: The Future of Information Management in the Government of Canada”.

Looking forward to seeing you at GTEC!

Jodi LeBlanc is a Values and Ethics Advisor with Veterans Affairs Canada and an Outreach and Engagement Advisor with the GC 2.0 Tools Team at Treasury Board Secretariat. This will be her seventh year attending GTEC and her third year as a GTEC blogger. You can connect with her via Twitter, @jodilynne3 or LinkedIn.