IRMS Conference: Celebrating 40 years of records management

irms conference 2023

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the IRMS and this was suitably celebrated at a packed conference in Manchester this year.

Siobhan King, Senior Consultant here at Metataxis, attended this exciting event last month – read on to learn about her experience: 

This was one of the biggest Information and Records Management Society events I have seen in a long time, and big in so many ways. There was a large number of attendees, a programme packed with a wide range of contributors and topics and as always, a great variety of exhibitors in the Vendor Showcase hall.

The majesty and size of the venue (at the Klimpton Clocktower) was a fair indicator of the popularity of the conference, as were the queues for the lunch buffets. (Yet another opportunity to network and meet new people.)

Celebrating this big anniversary for their professional association allowed for some reflection for information and records professionals. Overall, I would say that over the past 40 years, records and information management has emerged as a much more self-assured (if somewhat sometimes under-appreciated) profession. I was really pleased to meet Anne Cornish who is the president of RIMPA (Records and Information Management Practitioners Alliance) and Wendy McLain, president of ARMA (Association of Records Managers and Administrators) International from Australia and the United States respectively. Both were there as a show of the convergence of information and records management – not only internationally – but also between different professional organisations as well. This is a really welcome development.

Fads have come and gone (remember blockchain?), but records managers still remain. I was half expecting to be bombarded with multiple sessions about how ChatGPT and AI will change my life – and I was pleasantly surprised this was not the case at this conference.

Instead, I would say that the presenters were much more practical in approach. Many presentations were case studies from organisations who have actually walked the walk and not just talked the talk. There were so many good sessions and I could not attend or summarise them all but the ones that really got me thinking were:

  • James Wood from Northumberland Estates talked about Records Management in SharePoint Online with an E3 Licence. And how Northumberland Estates have done this is to leverage existing functionality within the boundaries of an E3 licence as much as possible. This has meant some up-skilling and venturing into areas of Microsoft that many Records Manager are less familiar with. Wood himself is an Information and Records Manager who pushed himself to learn new skills using Forms, PowerAutomate and even PowerShell to achieve a clean and well thought through design.
  • David Canning from the Cabinet Office, Lise Jaillant and Rob Bath presented an excellent session on conquering the digital heap. Canning’s discussion of how they implemented e-Discovery methods to get on top of their digital estate was particularly interesting. This was a combination of introducing new methods and some AI to radically reduce their digital footprint. And I have to say for me it lead to more meaningful conversations with many of the vendors in the Showcase hall. I’ve always been keen to be involved in a project where AI is part of the solution to tackling the digital heap. Even more so now someone has done this and shared the results.
  • Kay Young and Kate Valente from the Food Standards Agency talked about how they migrated from an EDRMS to SharePoint. They managed to achieve this at an impressive pace and with only a few small bumps along the way. Their successful journey was very encouraging to any other organisations in the same boat of having to move from an EDRMS to Microsoft 365. Plus their advice to tell people that migration is happening until they are bored of hearing it was absolutely invaluable.
IRMS Conference

Overall, the vibe at the conference was generally really positive and collegial. This year, because of the presence in Manchester, bees and hives were heavily referenced in conference packs, session names and even honey themed prizes in the trade hall. Dare I say, there was a real buzz in the air. We already can’t wait for the next one!