Records management

As the need to meet a burgeoning volume of legislative and regulatory requirements grows, records management has quickly become a concern for almost all organisations. IT analysts at Forrester Research use the term enterprise records management (ERM) to define products that “manage the declaration, retention and disposal of records, including electronic documents, email and physical records”.

More specifically, ERM enables users to:

Categorise and declare records ERM products provide a folder structure (or file plan) for storing and categorising records.

Enforce rules for retention and disposal of records Many regulations now define at what point records can be destroyed. ERM products enable users to apply rules of retention and disposal to records based on how they are categorised in the file plan.

Secure access to records If a record is tampered with, or seen by an unauthorised person, a company is likely to be in breach of a number of important legal and regulatory mandates. Features such as user authentication, access control and audit trails in records management software protect records.

Browse related records ERM products provide a unified view of related records, independent of their media type.


Quotes: Mission-critical application

“Clients must address records management and compliance mandates as mission-critical requirements. Users should treat this as evolutionary, and preparation should begin as soon as possible to ensure enterprise compliance at whatever legal risk level senior management has established.”
Meta Group analyst Charlie Brett

“The guiding principle is that IT will be an indispensable element in compliance – but it cannot act on its own.”
Giga analyst Martha Bennett

“We must sweep away the cobwebs of secrecy that hang over far too much government activity.”
Prime Minister Tony Blair




Business case: Reasons to roll out RM

A number of factors will fuel growth in the records management software market in 2004, according to Forrester analysts:

1. Increased number of regulations

2. Greater risk of litigation over records retention and disposal

3. Cost of ownership driving product selection as IT departments struggle to cope with a growing number of records held in an increasing number of repositories

4. Need for software to deal with classification of documents

5. Demands to provide uniform application of corporate policies for records

6. Need for electronic records management as a means to manage records and centralise policies

7. Need for a centralised records management system to reduce costs resulting from staff, hardware and resource utilisation.




Adoption: Three steps to RM

All organisations should take a three-stage “enterprise approach” to records management, advise Forrester analysts.

Define process and policies
Consider what defines a record, how it will be classified, who is responsible for declaring record, and what the retention and disposal policies are.

Launch a cross-functional records management committee
Cross-departmental collaboration on records management is essential. The legal department can provide guidance on corporate policies and industry regulations. Line of business managers have the best grasp of how content is created and who the key users will be.

Include records management in enterprise content management systems
Organisations should view records management as an extension to their enterprise content management initiatives and take advantage of existing standards for metadata management, repository architectures, search and user administration.




Consolidation: Sector crossover

The technologies for supporting the declaration, classification, indexing, organisation and retrieval of records have traditionally emerged from specialised companies. But as records management has become an indispensable part of document and content management, the powerhouses of those segments have been adding RM packages to their portfolios.

Documentum, for example, has acquired TrueArc, Open Text has absorbed PS Software and its iRIMS package, Hummingbird has purchased Valid Information Systems and, most recently, Vignette has swallowed Tower Technology and its Seraph records management system.

Key players

Documentum The company’s Records Manager is seen by analysts as good for customers that wish to add records management to their existing content management deployment. In addition to records created in the Documentum systems, the product also enables customers to manage records held in FileNet and Microsoft SharePoint repositories.

eManage eManage, a Microsoft platform-focused product that, instead of providing its own repository, applies its record management capabilities to existing content management repositories such as Exchange and SharePoint, saving companies the trouble of migrating existing documents. Email record management is a particular specialty.

FileNet – Records Manager, a long-awaited product due in the second quarter of 2004 as an add-on to the company’s flagship P8 system and part of the company’s Compliance Framework that integrates content, business process and records management.

Hummingbird The Hummingbird Enterprise – RM suite pulls together a broad set of records management tools, including the R/KYV product acquired with its takeover of the UK’s Valid information Systems’ in mid-2003. The RM line-up is being integrated with Hummingbird’s portal, collaboration, content and document management technologies.

IBM The DB2 Records Manager does not come with its own records repository but enables users to declare and retain documents stored in certain document management repositories including DB2 Content Manager, Microsoft SharePoint and LibertyNet.

MDY Advanced Technologies MDY is one of the few remaining specialists in the area and has a good track record in the legal sector. Its FileSurf enables buyers to manage physical as well as electronic records.

Meridio Meridio Record Manager is a component of the company’s wider enterprise document management product. It integrates strongly with Microsoft applications.

Open Text LiveLink Records Management is a good fit for organisations that are seeking integrated document and records management or for secure documents.

Tower Software Trim Context from Tower Software (as distinct from recently acquired Tower Technologies) is a mature and broad RM package, integrated with Tower’s document, process and email management offerings.




Legislation: Time running out

The Freedom of Information Act 2000, which comes into full effect in January 2005, will have a significant impact on the way companies manage and store information and documents. The main features of the act are:

  • A public right to be told if information held by public authorities exists and rights of access to that information, subject to certain conditions and exemptions. If access is refused, the public authority must disclose why the public interest in refusing access outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

  • An Information Commissioner and an Information Tribunal are created, each with wide powers to enforce the rights created. ° A duty for public authorities to adopt a scheme for the publication of information, approved by the Information Commissioner.

  • A robust information management system which covers all information held by an authority, including information that existed prior to the Act taking effect. The system must be able to classify data, record all information requests, deliver requested information to the public within 20 days and provide a full audit trail of the process.

    These requirements are proving a significant task. It appears that many organisations are struggling to get their systems and processes ready in time for the 2005 deadline. Some surveys suggest that hundreds – if not thousands – of public sector bodies such as local councils and government departments are struggling to meet it. The cost of compliance – and a refusal by Whitehall to make available special grants – is a major barrier. Another problem, at least in the minds of open-government campaigners, is institutionalised resistance within the civil service to the very notion of a Freedom of Information Act.



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    Ben Rossi

    Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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