When you think about record-keeping in HR, what does it typically bring to mind?
If you’re like a lot of long-time practitioners, it probably means a dark, dusty room filled with file cabinets or shelving, file folders filled to bursting with documents that track the course of an employee’s employment and benefits. It may be orderly, it may be messy, but it’s probably on paper.
Bobby Zaepfel wants you to start thinking different about record keeping.
I had an opportunity to talk to Bobby as he prepares for his 2018 SHRM National Conference session Once Upon a Time There Was a Mountain of Paper, on Tuesday, June 19 at 7:00 AM. Don’t let the early time scare you off – it promises to be a great session! Bobby is the University Records Officer in charge of the records program all of James Madison University. With a focus on process improvement, strategic goals, and vision, Bobby works closely with HR staff and campus leadership to facilitate and collaborate all areas of the records program at the university.
And Bobby is an electronics record-keeping evangelist.
As a member of the #SHRM18 Blog Squad, I get to interview speakers and help spread the word about their session, and I personally selected Bobby’s session on record-keeping because it seemed like a topic that, on the surface, doesn’t sound sexy, but is hitting HR departments hard as organizations look to modernize and cut down on their facilities footprints.
Bobby explains, “This is a hot button topic – it tends to be deprioritized until it CAN’T be deprioritized anymore. A lot of organizations find themselves in a ‘gotta move NOW’ situation and don’t make plans for the future.” The trick, Bobby continues, is to be strategic about how you will move forward with electronic record-keeping. Buying a system isn’t enough. Like all HR tech, you need to have a plan first.
When I asked Bobby what advice he would give to an HR department about to embark on the path to electronics record-keeping, he said, “Approach it with a heavy emphasis on workflows. A lot of the (record-keeping) systems out there are very specific about what they can and can’t do. Draw a concept map out before you dive into the pond – what are the workflows? Who needs access? Etc.”
When mapping out the requirements for a record-keeping system, it’s this last point that some HR departments forget. Bobby gave me an overview of a records-conversion project James Madison University is about to embark on (moving from an “online file cabinet” to an record-keeping system), and when they started reviewing who needed access, it was clear that the needs went far beyond HR’s records. Student records, transcripts, applications, accounting – all needed to be accessed across the university. This requirement – and the careful planning that preceded it – led them to a solution that was tailor made for higher education.
I enjoyed my conversation with Bobby Zaepfel. He’s funny, engaging, and tells a great story. His first career was in broadcasting, and you can hear the roots of that past in the way he approaches his content. His first experience with the SHRM National Conference was last year in New Orleans – guess whose session was during the tornado warning? Thankfully, it all worked out!
When I shared I live in Colorado, Bobby was quick to proclaim his love for Red Rocks Amphitheater (as well he should) and shared that he was a bit of a Dead Head before settling down. He’s the proud father of three boys – twin 6-yr-olds and a 4-yr-old.
As our conversation wrapped up, I asked Bobby if there was anything else he wanted me to share with the readers. “SHRM is a wealth of resources – if you go on their site, you can find information on pretty much any topic,” he said. “This is so incredibly helpful for smaller HR departments, folks new to the industry, and true generalists who have to handle everything on their own.”
Well said, Bobby.
Join Bobby Zaepfel for his session at 2018 SHRM National Conference: Once Upon a Time There Was a Mountain of Paper, Tuesday, June 19, 7:00 AM