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Conference Review: 2009 AIIM International Exposition + Conference
By Sandra Nunn, MA, RHIA, CHP

The core sessions at the recent American Information and Image Management(AIIM) Exposition and Conference in Philadelphia opened on a Tuesday with long, single-topic sessions isolated on the preceding Monday. As a first-time attendee on a self-pay limited budget, it made scheduling more difficult without funds for the special sessions and with no means to link from the weekend directly into the meat of the conference. However, the multitude of sessions on all the juicy topics I needed to research for my job made up for the awkward beginning.

Keynote speaker John Mancini, president of the AIIM, spoke glowingly of the organization’s 15-year history, growing out of the old document management system associations into the professional force behind today’s content management industry. As a long-term records management professional, the AIIM’s role in moving electronic document, content, and records technologies into the mainstream arrived as news to me less than one year ago. Mancini talked enthusiastically about the AIIM’s dramatic growth and exploration of the new frontiers of collaboration technologies. Closer to my heart is the AIIM’s increasing interest in leveraging content management systems and technologies to support compliance and electronic discovery.

As one of a handful of attendees from the healthcare sector, I was encouraged by how many people in other industries are plagued by the same problems that pepper my own records management experience. People in diverse industries voiced their challenges with the glut of electronic records generated every organizational day.

Speaking of diverse industries, my first Tuesday session, “Getting Collaboration and Records Environments to Play Together: Enabling Better Retrieval of Documentation,” came from the jet propulsion industry. These folks’ solutions were similar to my own healthcare team’s decisions:

• Create new roles for records managers (also known as content managers).

• Use your subject matter experts to help you develop hierarchical classification schemas.

• Restrict metadata entry and management to content management experts.

• Emphasize simplicity in the population of organizational metadata.

• Carefully construct the triggers that drive the workflow cycles.

• Validation is wonderful.

American Greetings cards dove into the development and deployment of taxonomies, featuring a taxonomist and a product development fellow who delivered a practical approach to develop a multifaceted taxonomy. Electronic greetings can be categorized by theme, occasion, and recipient, so customers can find just the one they want to send. Although medical content is decidedly more complex, the concept of faceted search tweaked my brain with new possibilities.

Giving e-discovery a wide berth, I lined up for functional classification and the role of ISO’s 15489 standard. Given by the Episcopal church (yes, they have loads of records spanning over 100 years) and presented by a well-mannered church lady turned overnight records manager, the principal points were attained, including the need to protect very sensitive information through special security measures.

Over the next couple days, I attended a session on e-mail management complete with a scorecard to do a side-by-side comparison of vendors anxious to sell you one of the hottest products on the electronic market today. A blog and wiki session gave me good ideas about how to use these fun apps to create business value. A session near the conference’s end on SharePoint 2007 made the registration expense of this meeting worth it to me. I even circled back to Monday’s offerings and signed up for an electronic records management set of lessons online. The positives of the conference equaled a large volume of sessions on multiple topics, multiple industry representation, and a great leading organization.

— Sandra Nunn, MA, RHIA, CHP, is a contributing editor at For The Record and the enterprise content and information manager at Presbyterian Healthcare Services in Albuquerque, N.M.