Recently the ARMA BoD approved the incorporation of the Strategic
Information Institute as a for-profit subsidiary of ARMA International.
Numerous messages have been posted in the past on the recmgmt-l listserv and
the ARMA Discussion Forum about SII/SIM. Most recently J. Fred Pauls posted
his statistical analysis of the SII conference held earlier this summer.
Just the other day I received the following from a long-time, well-respected
member of ARMA
International. Due to the member's position within the organization they
asked if I would kindly post the following to both recmgmt-l and to the ARMA
discussion board so as to receive the widest possible readership. The
individual prefers to remain anonymous at this point in time.
The Board's recent decision and other actions greatly affect the direction
of our association and our profession. If you are a member of ARMA
International please feel free to forward this message on to other members
who are not subscribers to the listserv. Remember that the Conference is
less than 8 weeks away.
To those members of the listserv who are not members of ARMA thank you for
your forbearance with this issue.
I'm struggling to understand what exactly the Board approved in July
regarding the Strategic Information Institute. I'm not sure I follow
the logic of establishing a "for profit" entity under the control of a
not for profit entity. What does that buy us, exactly? And in the end,
if SII will be doing all these things, what will ARMA exist for?
Doesn't seem like there's much left for ARMA to do. And how is ARMA
being protected in the event that the SII fails? Will ARMA members be
paying for all this?
So let's dissect a few things underneath the consultant-speak of
"supply side" and "demand side"...
Accreditation: What is being accredited? There are no real "Strategic
Information" educational programs out there to speak of, and very few
records management programs. ALA pretty much snubbed ARMA until our
friends at SAA got us invited back to the table. So what are we doing
there? What educational programs will be accredited?
Certification: What's wrong with the CRM? Or, are we going to have an
alphabet soup of Microsoft-style certifications that anyone with a
fistful of dollars can get by taking a computerized test? Seems like
that dilutes the meaningfulness of certification. What confusion will
we sow with multiple certifications that do not mean much to the
Corporate Partnerships: That seems to open some wallets and bring in
cash, but at what cost? Does every session at the ARMA Conference come
with a commercial? Does the ARMA website start to look like one big
banner ad? Do we sacrifice professional interests to further
commercial interests? There's a quid pro quo when you put the arm on
vendors. And I can assure you that my corporation is looking for ways
to pay ARMA less money for memberships, not more. If you're looking to
partner with the corporate world, something better be coming back for
But what "demand" is generated by all this? Wouldn't a well-conceived
PR campaign (or just a daily response to records issues on newswires)
generate demand for records management? Why create something
artificial? The reality is in the news EVERY DAY.
And what of the products and services? What does that mean?
The "supply side" is equally interesting.
What does "competent professionals" mean and what will they do?
Consult? Educate? Write white papers? Or are we talking about the
Educational Offerings: Correct me if I'm wrong, but the last time I
checked, ARMA's business was education. Who are we now educating? Are
we running seminars in Palm Springs? Are we competing against, and
potentially destroying, ARMA Chapters by running seminars in their
cities? There are a finite number of dollars in most corporations for
outside training. I'm allowed two "major" (i.e. $1000 range) seminars
a year. My professional staff gets one every other year. And I work
for a very generous company. Do these seminars start to dilute the
attendance at the ARMA Conference? After all, the Conference generates
a considerable amount, if not a majority, of ARMA's revenue.
Products and services: Again, what could these be that are not already
offered by ARMA as publications or sold by vendors?
So in the end, what exactly does ARMA International look like if SII
does all of this stuff?
And who sits on the Board of this new organization? If they are
spending ARMA's money, they better be elected by our membership in
Can someone share the business plan with those of us who have been
paying for all of this?
All I hear from Prairie Village is that the membership can't see this
and the membership can't see that. Confidentiality agreements. Rules.
Policies. ALs. It sure seems like the leadership of ARMA International
has forgotten who they ultimately work for -- the members. Partner
with the membership and you might actually have something. Perhaps,
just perhaps, those of us who are so critical of the way things are
might get on the bandwagon. We care about this organization. We are
people who have invested our time and a lot of effort into this
organization over many years. You know some of our names. You don't
know others. Help us share the vision. Practice good change management
for Pete's sake. Otherwise, we'll find some other organization to
carry our banner and take our dues.
WE ARE RECORDS MANAGERS. We manage records and information for our
organizations. We enable our organizations to make good business
decisions and defend the decisions that they have made by properly and
carefully maintaining the RECORDS of our organizations in a manner
that ensures timely retrieval and legally defensible destruction. We
do that by implementing sound practices to ensure that records and
information are maintained in appropriate ways and for legally
permissible periods of time. We identify and protect vital records
from harm. Those practices are tactical in execution and strategic in
concept. Our value to our organizations is in mastering the management
of records and showing bottom line impact in what we do every day. WE
ARE RECORDS MANAGERS.
WE ARE RECORDS MANAGERS. Every day our colleagues around the world
ensure that private information is maintained securely. Others ensure
that democratic governments are accountable to their citizens.
Corporate records managers ensure that their businesses remain
accountable to their stockholders, auditors, and regulators. We aid
our colleagues in the archival profession by identifying and
preserving records of historical value. We serve the knowledge
management initiatives of our organizations by bringing together the
largest repositories of a company's knowledge. Perhaps we even retain
the collective wisdom of our organizations. We aid people in receiving
citizenship, in enrolling and graduating from educational
institutions, in maintaining medical histories, in receiving insurance
and retirement benefits, and in being accorded a respectful and
honorable resting place. WE ARE RECORDS MANAGERS.
There should be nothing shameful in calling ourselves Records
Managers. We do not need a buzz-phrase to indentify what we are and
what we do. We do not need to inflate our egos. The Records of our
organizations are critical to the continuing existence of the
organization. We need to be at the management table, but we do not
need to be making the company's decisions. We are the expert resource
regarding the creation, use, management, and disposition of records.
We simply need to be recognized more universally as such. And we need
our professional organization to give us the tools, the publicity, and
the education to be truly recognized as professionals. If these are
the ultimate goals of the Strategic Information Institute, I support
them. But I will not, and I can not, support the waste of my company's
money in an endeavor to promote records managers as something they are
not, and never can be.
Peter A. Kurilecz CRM, CA
Manager, Records Management Group
Woodside Summit Group Inc
Office: 804-744-1247 x23
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