Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Event – IRMS Site Visit to Dyson R&D Centre

Tuesday 11th August saw me driving through a beautiful English summer morning from Hampshire up into Wiltshire to the Dyson headquarters.  After getting safely through the rather daunting security gate, I met up with the other delegates and walked through a striking sculpture installation by Peter Burke to reach reception.
Billed as a site visit, I was delighted to find that Sam Steer (Information Manager) and her team had put in a great deal of thought and effort for the day.  Rather than a tour around the site, which was restricted for commercial confidentiality reasons, we were treated to a masterclass of in-place records and information management.
Sam joined Dyson four years ago, and was originally offered a £4m budget to buy and implement an EDRMS.  This led to sharp intakes of breath and jealous looks from many round the table!  However not bedazzled by this largesse, Sam proceeded to carry out a cost benefit analysis of the initial plan, which looked like this:

The characteristics of Dyson as an organisation, founded upon rapid growth, innovation, perseverance, perfectionism and anti-bureaucracy, had led to a particular set of IRM challenges:
·    Rapid growth had meant moving from a simple file share and conversations to share information, to 3,000 staff and a business reorganisation project
·    Innovation meant that competitors felt threatened and resorted to regular litigation as a strategy to try and maintain market share
·    Perseverance and perfectionism worked in IRM’s favour!
·    Anti-bureaucracy meant there was a need for strong business cases and demonstrations of value in what IRM was asking of staff
Because of the number, complexity and frequency of litigation, and subsequent need for legal hold notices and a legal discovery processes, it was felt that adding an EDRM system layer would lead to duplication of information and increasing the cost of discovery.  Another drawback was that the retention of information was largely to meet business needs for information re-use, and moving information into an EDRMS would mean loss of functionality, making it harder to re-find and re-use that information later.
The decision was therefore taken to follow Plan B: in-place records management.  This has meant tackling each of the line-of-business systems illustrated above in turn.  Sam is closely involved with IT in the specification, testing and roll-out of new systems, whether these are to be purchased and customised external solutions (like the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system) or systems to be developed internally (like the File Share search system, (Index)). 
The roll out and management of all these systems would clearly be too much for one person – so Sam has recruited 60 information custodians around the business who have information management objectives to meet as well as their ‘day job’.
On the roadmap for future development are a new front-office application, for example for CRM, a new web content management system for the website, email management, and an investigation of the use of social media. 
Our day included presentations from the developer of the new PLM system, which is due to go live later this year, and of the File Share search, categorisation and review system, which is already being implemented.  We had a splendid lunch, including fresh berries and either lemon or chocolate cake for desert, and then had a hands-on training session on Index where we learnt to categorise folders and review them.
As the first in a series of site visits organised by the IRMS this was an outstanding success, and everyone got a lot out of the day.

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