Friday, August 5, 2016

Sports Teams, Governement and Audits

Now that we are at the end of the NFL drama known as deflategate, I thought I would look to see if there was any kind of records policy for the NFL or for any sports team.  There might be, but my questions to the NFL regarding a records policy was never answered.

A sports team will have personnel records, payroll records, contracts (players and vendors), facility records, reports, statistics, to name a few. They would also have security records, records of fan incidents at a game, season ticket holder records.

The policy should address what to do if there is a conflict with the NFL and a team or a player. I'm sure there is information in the Players Association about grievances and appeals, but to my knowledge there is little about keeping records for any length of time. The NFL Rule Book does mention keeping records, but these are records made during the game--not about the length of time to keep a said record.

For instance, this rule on the game balls is from the 2013 Rule Book. It states:
Rule 2 The Ball Section 1 BALL DIMENSIONS  The Ball must be a “Wilson,” hand selected, bearing the signature of the Commissioner of the League, Roger Goodell. The ball shall be made up of an inflated (12 1/2 to 13 1/2 pounds) urethane bladder enclosed in a pebble grained, leather case (natural tan color) without corrugations of any kind. It shall have the form of a prolate spheroid and the size and weight shall be: long axis, 11 to 11 1/4 inches; long circumference, 28 to 28 1/2 inches; short circumference, 21 to 21 1/4 inches; weight, 14 to 15 ounces.  The Referee shall be the sole judge as to whether all balls offered for play comply with these specifications. A pump is to be furnished by the home club, and the balls shall remain under the supervision of the Referee until they are delivered to the ball attendant just prior to the start of the game.  Section 2 BALL SUPPLY Each team will make 12 primary balls available for testing by the Referee two hours and 15 minutes prior to the starting time of the game to meet League requirements. The home team will also make 12 backup balls available for testing in all stadiums. In addition, the visitors, at their discretion, may bring 12 backup balls to be tested by the Referee for games held in outdoor stadiums. For all games, eight new footballs, sealed in a special box and shipped by the manufacturer to the Referee, will be opened in the officials’ locker room two hours and 15 minutes prior to the starting time of the game. These balls are to be specially marked by the Referee and used exclusively for the kicking game. In the event a home team ball does not conform to specifications, or its supply is exhausted, the Referee shall secure a proper ball from the visitors and, failing that, use the best available ball. Any such circumstances must be reported to the Commissioner. In case of rain or a wet, muddy, or slippery field, a playable ball shall be used at the request of the offensive team’s center. The Game Clock shall not stop for such action (unless undue delay occurs). Note: It is the responsibility of the home team to furnish playable balls at all times by attendants from either side of the playing field.

Nowhere in this rule does it say that the testing must be recorded. There is no proof that the balls of a game are tested, so how do we know that they are tested. There is ample opportunity to make a record of the fact the balls were tested especially during a playoff game.  Financial companies are often audited to make sure their books and records are complete. If they are required to test for specific things in their customers accounts, they must provide proof of that testing during an audit if requested. If they do not they are penalized with fines.  There reputation can also suffer.

And speaking of audits, don't you think that these are a good thing to have? Without audits, certain irregularities would not be caught. When a company is audited it is usually done with the intention of discovering any issues that would compromise the customer, company, or country. Auditors will identify areas of improvement, find that the company is in good or bad "health" -- i.e. it will continue to function or not. It will also check the performance of new technology and evaluate threats, economy, efficiency and quality. [Found in an answer by Abhilasha Sharma to Why do companies have audits.]

In my opinion, audits should happen to all companies, public, private, sports and entertainment, and the government. If the government  or NFL were audited on a regular basis, the audits might have identify issues like
  • A person using a private email server being used instead of the one used by the government.
  • Over spending by any branch of the government
  • Issues at the Veteran's Hospitals
  • The inconsistencies in the NFL's process of providing balls and proving that they were of the right weight during the games.
  • Audits can also identify issues in the records policy and procedures.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Where is records management heading?

Where is records management heading? This is the question that was asked in 2007 by Frank McKenna of Knowledgeone Corporation. His article discusses many of the technologies that were (and still are available) in 2007. His predictions about what would shape records management are interesting, but what I found most interesting was his answer to the question will technology alone ensure improved records and document management solutions? Of course not, Mr. McKenna gave several items that were needed to improved records and document management solutions.
  • Senior level and ongoing commitment
  • Budget
  • Adequate training for all levels of staff
  • Goals, milestones, objectives and internal reviews
  • Metrics and external audits
  • Change the concept of an EDRMS application from a cost to a profit
  • Better solution paradigm, server-centric (labor-lite) and not reliant upon end-users (labor intensive)!
So where are we headed. Today, in records and information management world, we not only have records to deal with, but we also need to understand e-discovery, a host of new technologies -- social apps, Google Glasses -- cloud technology, managing in place instead of in one repository, privacy issues and informaton Governance to name a few items.

Someone has some explaining to do!  (My apologies to the Lucille Ball Show.) RIM Professionals need to get out from the weeds of "doing" records management and explaining it to everyone that will listen. We also need to work with our IT counterparts and our legal connections. RIM needs to incorporate information governance and privacy considerations.

There also needs to be culture shifts in the corporate world and how information is treated and used.

  • Shift #1: Information needs to be treated as an asset and a commodity. It does have value and the value comes from how it is used. If information is not used then it is valueless.  
  • Shift #2:  All information must be managed and not just at the end of its useful life. Information must be managed from the time its created until the end of its usefulness. Preserving information needs to be able to happen and the life cycle management suspended when information is needed for litigation or regulatory matter.
  • Shift #3: RIM professionals can't do it alone, they need to combine forces with all stakeholders. This includes training all employees, working with IT to understand what needs to be done, can be done etc.; working with legal to hone the process of "holding" information as needed; working with compliance, information governance or security, and privacy stakeholders. Everyone in a company has some stake in the information game.
  • Shift #4: RIM professionals need to understand all sorts of technologies (and this is what makes RIM interesting to me.) They need to be almost psychic when it comes to looking down the road to see what challenges new technologies will be bringing. RIM professionals need to be proactive in identifying the needs of RIM so that when the new technology comes along, the RIM program is prepared.
  • Shift #5: RIM Professional need to creative in approaching new technologies. For example what are we going to do with records stored on a DNA strand -- how will that be migrated to the next storage technology? 
Each of these shifts will happen whether the RIM professional is ready or not. They need to happen if we are going to be able to continue our work. Some of these shifts are already happening. RIM can be a daunting task, but it is doable as long as you work with many in your organizations to get things done.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

This thing called records & information management

Some people may wonder about why we do this thing called "records & information management". What is they wonder? Why is it so important? What's in it for me (or your company)? Doesn't it just add to the overhead cost? So why records management?
What is it: What is records & information management--it is the practice of identifying, classifying, prioritizing, storing, securing, archiving, preserving, retrieving, tracking and destroying of records. This is done by creating a records schedule which identifies the records and the retention.
Why is it important: Records management helps to ensure integrity, authenticity and reliability of the records of a company or individual.  This slideshare by Omwoma Jacksongives top 10 reasons that records management helps the organization.
  1. To control growth and creation of records
  2. To reduce operating costs
  3. To improve efficiency and productivity
  4. To assimilate new records management technology
  5. To minimize risk to the firm
  6. To safeguard vital information
  7. To support better management decision making
  8. To preserve the corporate memory
  9. To foster professionalism in running the company
What's in it for me (or my company)? --Records management protects our reputation. Records management helps to reduce or avoid fines for non-compliance (see the FINRA's fine on Barclay press release). Records management also offers the opportunity to keep our records lean, so we don't spend a lot of time and effort searching for what is needed.
So what does success look like?
Records management is successful when we can find what the information that is needed. Can you imagine, having the right information, at the right time to make an important decision. Its successful, when there is an audit and everything for the audit checks out to be in good order. It is successful, when we prove in litigation cases that we have a program and that we do follow it. It is successful when operating costs go down and efficiency and productivity go up due to ease of access to information.
So why records management?  Hopefully by expanding on the questions above, I've answered this question. However, as pointed out in the Barclay press release:
"Ensuring the integrity, accuracy and accessibility of electronic books and records is essential to a firm's ability to meet its compliance obligations."

Monday, December 2, 2013

You know you're a records & information specialist when....

Many of us have taken walks outside during the day or at night. It's a great thing to do for yourself--you get fresh air and exercise. It might be a way to calm your nerves, answer an unsolved problem, clear your head or just enjoy. That is what most people do when they go for a walk...however, not me. I try to let my thoughts wonder around looking at the scenery, but I start seeing records! 
  • On seeing a fallen tree, I'm very likely to go over to it to see how many rings in it. The tree rings show how old a part of the tree is. A tree can be 40 years old, but the branch may only be 10 years. (It's a record of nature)
  • On seeing flowers and trees blossom in the spring, wonder how do they know how to tell time? Surprisingly enough its in their genes
I've searched around for information on how mother nature has kept records through the years and couldn't find a specific site to recommend. However, I've come to the conclusion that the record keeping for mother nature is recorded in the DNA for each species and is passed along to each generation. Its complete and intact. We could learn a thing or two from her. Apparently, scientists agree and have been working on designing a DNA storage device. In 2012 a complete book was encoded onto DNA. "A trio of researchers has encoded a draft of a whole book into DNA. The 5.27-megabit tome contains 53,246 words, 11 JPG image files and a JavaScript program, making it the largest piece of non-biological data ever stored in this way." According to the article recording the information is not fundamentally different than what we do today, but rather a creative use of technology that is available. 

It'll be interesting to see if this type of bio-technology might become the wave of the future and the implications it has on storage--especially long-term storage.  Other issues that will need to be addressed is the WORM aspect that is needed for many records in the financial world. Security and privacy issues will also need to be addressed if they aren't already part of the culture for the organization.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

I recently ran across Tom Koulopoulos, Delphi Institute blog in which he speaks 
about the end of his life in two worlds. No he wasn't talking about his imminent death. He discussed how Google Glasses changed his perception of the world from the plugged in world and the unplugged world to actually having the two worlds merged. His blog speaks about how he used the glasses and how long it took him to get used to them. In his blog he speaks about the differences between how the generations view the world, specifically how Gen Z views the world as opposed to their parents. Gen Z according to Tom sees no difference between the two worlds. They only see the "integration of offline and online will multiply the potential opportunities to live, work and play." This statement made me think. Who are these Gen Z's and when will they be entering the workforce? There is no clear cut answer on the dates for this generation, however according to a Forbes blog they are pragmatic and tend to face problems rather than hiding from them. 

What will happen when these kids come into the workforce? There is no telling what exactly will happen, however, they will impact the way we work, communicate, and deliver information/records. There will probably be an end of the "paper record" and the "electronic record" distinctions that we have so carefully crafted. Will this change the way that we manage records--most certainly it will. The question for us, as records managers or members of the records management community, is do we embrace the new ways of doing business or do we try to keep with the traditional approaches?

Even as we learn to deal with new technologies, we should never forget that information is everywhere and needs to be managed. If we don't embrace the new technologies our functions will become obsolete