The Central Utah Water Conservancy District manages a vast network of water facilities in eight Utah counties. Recordkeeping for this vital resource is of the utmost importance to the organization. Records Manager Mandy McClellan offers up some insight into her role and advice for other recordkeepers.
Tell us how you got your start in records management? Is this a career you saw yourself working in?
I was previously working in the IT department of a hospital when they began consolidating jobs. I heard of an opening at Central Utah Water Conservancy District for a records clerk and thought I’d give it a shot. I worked as a Records Clerk for 2 years and was then moved into the Records Assistant position which I stayed in for 9 years. At that point my predecessor announced that she was retiring and I was offered the opportunity to succession plan into the Records Manager position and was promoted in 2018. It didn’t take long before I realized that Records Management is a fascinating career. This is definitely not the career I saw myself in, but so far I have no regrets!
How important is records management for the Central Utah Water Conservancy District?
Because of the nature of our organization, recordkeeping is of the utmost importance in dealing with GRAMA requests, water deliveries and day to day operations. Making sure all employees have the records they need when they need them is one of our highest priorities.
How do you get everyone excited about records management at CUWCD?
I have found this is one of my greatest challenges, but we recently started having All Staff meetings regularly and I am given time to present on different records topics at each one. I have found this much more useful than our previous hour-long training each year because I am able to really focus on one topic and give specific examples on how it applies to employees. Our department has also begun making individual department visits with no formal agenda, just a visit to answer any records-related questions they have. We have found this extremely beneficial because the employees feel more comfortable asking questions specific to their department in a smaller setting. It has also allowed us to learn department processes and how records fit into them. Listening and being open to employees’ ideas and suggestions on how we can improve our processes is very important to us.
What is the most challenging thing about managing records in 2022?
Definitely the changes in technology and the complexities in GRAMA requests we receive. It seems like I just start getting a handle on new technology when something else comes along. And like most governmental organizations, the number and complexity of GRAMA requests we receive each year is rising. We are a department of two so managing the requests and the workload becomes more challenging.
What helps you stay motivated when your records management projects get tough?
The support I have from upper management. I have been very lucky to be placed under one of our Deputy General Managers who doesn’t have much experience with records but is very willing to listen, learn and support. I think feeling validated and supported is the most important thing to a records management position.
What kinds of resources do you recommend for new records officers that want to learn more about managing records?
Professional associations! Being a member of ARMA and NAGARA has been essential since I am relatively new to the field. I have found it very helpful to network with others in the field to get suggestions and feedback on recordkeeping processes. There are also quite a few free webinars on different records management topics that I have found helpful, and the Utah State Archives trainings are always great.
What is your favorite thing about managing records?
That it never stays the same. There are always changes which can be challenging but it keeps things exciting!