When it comes to making improvements in your records and information management program, there is no plan for improvement, iteration, or change that will survive if you just foist it on people and expect it to work.

If you’re looking to make improvements in your records program, whether it’s launching a digitization initiative or improving your organization’s ability to securely dispose of documents for remote employees, you need to not only have an idea, but a plan that proposes to the organization why they should want to help you complete it.

This post explores the importance of change management, how to tailor your discussions to win stakeholder support, break through barriers, and focus on the aspects that matter most—without sacrificing your vision of what needs to get done.

What is Change Management and Why is It Important?

In essence, change management is selling your idea to other people on the project, including executives and the people who will eventually end up using the end product and/or be affected by the change in behavior you’re proposing.

The word “selling” in this case implies that you’re trying to make someone or a group of people do something that they don’t necessarily understand or see a need to do.

“If we want to get stakeholder support, it’s oftentimes this negative thing that you’ve got to sell your soul for,” Organizational Development expert Rob Bogue said during a joint presentation with Access. “What you need to remember is you’re trying to help someone. You’re not trying to sell ice to Eskimos.”

Change management is designing and communicating about your project in such a way that the organization is championing your initiative and wants to help you see it through.

Change Management Starts with a Change in Perspective

For information management professionals, there are dozens of reasons why making a modern records and information management program is important.

But even for the largest organizations, budgets and time aren’t bottomless resources. For everything an organization invests in and takes on, it has to choose not to pursue something else. That’s an opportunity cost.

Solving this means thinking a bit differently about your proposed changes to your RIM or IG program. If you’re thinking of your program purely in terms of making it better (because that’s what the best practices say), you’re approaching it from the wrong direction. Instead, “Think of this from the point of view,” Bogue suggested, “of how do I align my RIM/IG program with what my organization already wants to do or is committed to doing?”

Perhaps the following lens helps to put it all in perspective. In many cases, Bogue suggested, “They don’t trust you, they don’t know you, they don’t know that what they’re doing is a problem because they can’t see it, they don’t desire to change, can’t see the consequences of not doing so, and they have no idea how to move forward.”

Who Should Be Involved in Your Change Management Team?

Different stakeholders bring different strengths to your project. During the presentation with Access, Bogue explained each of them, how they add to the project as well as what to pay attention to when dealing with these different roles/types.

“You need people who bring power, legitimacy, and urgency to the project,” noted Bogue. You won’t likely find all of these in a single person, however. “You’ll have to assemble teams, thoughts, and backgrounds so that when it comes together you get power, legitimacy, and urgency.”

The team roles he outlined include:

  • Executive Sponsor – The sponsor shares business issues and values, identifies priorities, removes roadblocks, and demonstrates behaviors for the rest of the organization. They understand that their influence will help ensure success.
  • Success Owners – These team members are most invested in the success of the program. They will benefit directly from the program and can share progress across the organization.
  • Early Adopters – These people are attracted to being a part of something new and having early access. From this group, you’ll get feedback that you can use to adjust in the critical early stages.
  • Champions – These individuals may or may not benefit directly from the program but believe in the cause and understand the driving needs. They are not the same people as early adopters. People often think they don’t need champions because they have early adopters but you will lose the early adopters at some point because they’ll move on to something new.
  • Supporters – These employees will take action and move the program forward across associated functional areas. They are in roles across the organization such as customer service, legal, account management, compliance or IT, and are tied to advancing the common initiative. They are essential to providing the valuable feedback needed to help iterate and optimize to a more realized vision of your project.

Measuring Success of Change in Your RIM Program

So you’ve assembled your dream team and are rolling out your changes. How do you know if it’s working? Measuring the success of your RIM/IG program comes down to a few things:

Document what Success Means to You and Your Organization

There are two paths your program can take.

  1. Gradual deterioration: Less and less funding over time.
  2. Gradual growth: growing little by little.

Obviously, the second option is what you’re aiming for. But you can’t grow toward or achieve any goal if you don’t know what you’re aiming at.

Trying to overhaul your entire records and information management program at once is likely doomed to fail. Tackling one part at a time, however, enables gradual growth and improvement. Maybe you tackle one part of the information lifecycle or if it’s information governance that you’re struggling with, maybe you start by getting a records retention schedule established or updated.

Consistently Monitor and Drive Adoption

As your plan and program lock into place, you’ll want to be looking at two different kinds of metrics:

  • Leading indicators (things you can change)
  • Lagging indicators (results you want to achieve)

Support tickets or calls are gold when it comes to measuring adoption. As Bogue explained, “If you’re not getting many support calls, you’re either not getting enough adoption or you’ve done a really good job of explaining things. You should probably go back and think about the first option as it’s the most likely.”

He continued, “Help desk tickets are the best way to measure and report. You might think more tickets are a bad thing, but the greater the number [of tickets], the greater the adoption.”

These tickets/calls also give you a hint of who is adopting and who is not. For instance, Bogue observed that, “If you get calls from accounting, but not from sales, you know accounting is using it and sales likely isn’t.”

Ignore the Laggards

If you’ve done everything right and start to see adoption and the results you want, the one thing you don’t want to do is focus on the so-called “laggards” – people who are stubborn and refuse to change.

“At a certain point,” said Bogue, “you have to let the laggards be laggards. Focus on the wins – the early adopters and the majority.”


The key to growth is “find[ing] someone with a map,” concluded Bogue.

What he means by that is you shouldn’t try to reinvent the wheel. Don’t try and solve everything yourself. It’s very likely that what you’re trying to do has been done before or at the very least, has required a similar path. Find the path that has worked for others before and follow it.

When it comes to building a modern records and information program, Access has the experience to assist, including a great tool – our Integrated Information Management Roadmap. It includes a step-by-step strategy plan that not only helps future-proof your business, but ensures that your information is accessible, compliant, and secure.

Download the eBook to get started today.

Download Now