M&Ms:  Mails and Meetings: My Day as an Information Management Officer

Ivan Donadello, Information Management Officer, European External Action Service, Bruxelles

If I wanted to briefly describe my working days, I would say: e-mails, meeting, and more emails. With different level of priority, these are the main elements of my working day as an Information Management Officer in an international organisation. During my day at the office, I am mostly busy collaborating with people and planning ahead for the projects the team and I are involved.

Despite my best intentions of not starting my day by looking at email, I end up by opening my Outlook first thing every morning nonetheless. Some good time is then spent on dealing with requests or catching up on streams of work. Also, I read the updates from the other parts of the organisation and relevant internal news as a way to understand better where the direction of the organisation are the most relevant topics for the business. Being rather new to the organisation, I am on the steep learning focusing on “who does what and why” in order to understand more and more the functioning of the house. I try to be alert of the main events taking place and to read the press releases. Information management is one of the many support functions and it can be easy to lose track of what the core of the organisation is interested in.

Usually a meeting interrupts the morning catching up: being involved in several projects means more meetings to attend. Working together is always easier to be said than done: different parts with different priorities need to find a common ground and talking face-to-face is often the best way. Currently I am involved in a project to upgrade a network used by the institution to exchange documents and information and my team’s role is to provide requirements on management of information and collaborate with the technical IT services to define the business needs and find appropriate solutions.

During my professional experience I realised that knowing how to interact positively with IT teams is very important. When well managed, it can be a refreshing and profitable collaboration. From our side, it is important to learn the language in use as much as possible and to understand how project management is conceived. Establishing partnership and trust is crucial when launching a new platform for your customers or negotiating a fix in the chosen software. We all agree that Information Management is more than only using a specific tool, but often the software in use is the most visible element in the eye of our customers: making it work well is important!

Our sector meeting could also take place, which is the occasion when the archive, document management and information teams share updates and issues we are experiencing. It is a regular meeting which brings about synergies and cross-fertilization, but also contributes to the team spirit. Usually, some following up from these meetings will fill the time until the lunch break: updating the team’s space with new action points or sending more meeting requests to initiate or continue our projects. A quick run for coffee is always placed here and there throughout the morning. Sometimes, even coffee breaks can turn into informal meetings: but not often.

In the afternoon, if no other meeting is in the way, I usually spend my time writing documents which have been requested or submitting them for approval. Also, I also devote time to planning the next phases of a project to improve some aspects of our current information management system. Thinking carefully about the communication and change management aspects requires a strategic and creative approach, for which help from team members is incredibly useful. Bouncing ideas and brainstorming is often the way to find new solutions. Also, part of my role is to monitor the status of and report on the advancement of the projects to the management to allow them to have a clear picture.

When it is time to go home, I usually draw a list of things waiting to be done the following day and not to be forgotten. It is a way to save time the following day and to capture all that is still pending at the end of the day. Switching off the computer and locking drawers before running out of the building. In conclusion, most part of my time in the office is about people and communication with them.

 

K & IM Refer 34(2), Autumn 2018 

 

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