Current Trends in Records Management, Part 1

Original author: Mark Mandel
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image From the translator . Developing an electronic archive and record management system , we carefully monitor all publications devoted to current trends in the field of electronic document management and electronic storage of documents. We recently found an article on the Internet by Mark Mendell, an OpenText record management specialist. The article is written on the basis of foreign practice, which is largely far from the current Russian realities, but is of undoubted interest, since it anticipates some trends that we still have to face in the real future. So far, the first part of the article has been published on the website of the Association for the Processing of Information and Images. We will definitely translate the second part as soon as it is posted on the site.

Over the past few years, I have come to the conclusion that, in connection with all the latest changes, our industry has reached a qualitatively new level. The changes are associated with the emergence of new market development factors, as well as the fact that vendors have proposed new solutions that meet today's requirements.

In the first part of this article, new factors of market development will be considered. In the second part, we will try to analyze how these factors have affected the professional community.


Federal civil litigation rules require that all documents in a trial have the ability to be verified. This also applies to documents submitted in electronic form. The most important type of electronic content in eDiscovery procedures is email. Instant messages, voicemail, copies, drafts, personal correspondence - all this can be investigated and verified. In this situation, it does not matter at all whether the content has a record status: everything can be examined and verified, regardless of whether the record status is present.

The cost of researching documents is very high. The absence of this or that document in the trial can also lead to very serious consequences: sanctions, fines, negative decisions, and in some cases even imprisonment. In this situation, it is very important that any content can be easily found, classified in accordance with the rules of storage and excluded from consideration if it is not relevant. This approach allows to reduce the costs of research and storage, as well as to avoid or significantly reduce the number of cases of loss of documents.

This approach, called Content Lifecycle Management, involves applying information management techniques to all content from the moment it is created or captured until it is permanently deleted. Information management methods apply to e-mail messages, social media, electronic documents with all their versions, shared files, content created using collaboration tools, etc.

The consequence of changes in legislation was the emergence of a new look at the content of the concept of “record” (record). Previously, information was proclaimed a record at the end of the business process during which it was generated, and the schedule for storing records determined how it should be systematized and stored. The classification and storage system as a whole reproduced the approach of the paper era, in which paper documents were distributed on shelves or drawers.

According to the new definition, everything is a record. It follows that all content must be managed. Such an approach involves an enlarged classification of records by shelf life. Within this classification, in turn, a special group of records with the status of "Transitional" is allocated. According to this approach, everything that is not a record (personal correspondence, non-business correspondence, drafts, copies, etc.) receives the status of a transitional record. A certain storage period is set for them (for example, 120 days), after which they can be destroyed. This approach allows you to reduce storage requirements, as well as reduce costs.

From the point of view of the new paradigm of records management (RM), it is one of the subclasses of ECM systems. After the introduction of ECM solutions, record management becomes a key factor in processes such as human resources management, lender accounting, accounting, customer support, etc. During all these processes, records are received and created, which are captured and indexed as business functions. -processes, and the classification of these records is carried out automatically.

The inclusion of record management in all of the processes mentioned above entails the need to audit all transactions. Here you need to pay attention to another important factor - readiness for verification.

Readiness for inspections

The term “audit readiness” was introduced by the US Department of Defense to indicate the organization’s ability to quickly, accurately, and fully prepare for a possible audit. If you approach this requirement from the perspective of the old (“paper”) approach, this can lead to negative consequences and very serious problems. Automated solutions allow organizations to keep a complete record of all business transactions, which can significantly save time on preparing for an audit.

Since the damage from failed audits and inspections can in some cases be measured in the millions of dollars, constant readiness for inspections is of great importance. Thanks to the use of the content life cycle model, detailed accounting of all the information involved in business processes becomes quite achievable.

Presidential memo on managing government records

On November 28, 2011, President Obama signed a decree according to which each government department should appoint a person to translate all paper documents into electronic form. At the same time, information management of departments must necessarily include e-mail, social media, cloud solutions, etc. All departments have provided a plan for the transition to electronic storage of documents in the US National Archive, as well as in the Management and Budget Service. This summer, a directive will be drawn up on the transition to electronic storage of documents, which will take into account the proposals of all departments, as well as the results of a public discussion of the issue.

This work, like the implementation of most government directives, is an unfunded mandate. However, the transition to electronic storage of documents, as you know, can increase the level of payback. This decision, if it is correctly implemented, will save significant funds in the future.

Achieve more with less

One of the characteristic trends of the current American government is the desire to "achieve more with less." This also applies to the current situation: budgets and resources are declining, while the amount of information that needs to be worked on is growing. In the current difficult times for the economy, this situation takes place both in the private sector and in government organizations at all levels. The key factors in solving this problem are the introduction of new technologies and automation. The inclusion of record management and information management in the main business processes, as well as the use of new tools (for example, tools for automatic classification) make it possible to simplify the work of organizations in the context of increasing volumes of information.

Integrated classification by shelf life

The new paradigm requires a new approach to the problem of archive storage schedules. The current paper era approach is very detailed; storage rules formed on its basis are completely unsuitable for the current situation. Records stored in many organizations can be divided into hundreds or even thousands of groups. Recently, an enlarged classification by shelf life (English big bucket classification). If the ECM system already contains all the metadata on the basis of which records can be searched, the storage schedule is built only around the periods during which the records should be stored. Such a simplified classification system is easier to implement, it is much more understandable, to ensure compliance in such a system is much easier.

The U.S. General Audit Office, for example, introduced a classification in which all entries are divided into 3 large groups and 27 subcategories. Other departments also follow this example; Similar trends can be seen in private companies. The U.S. National Archives Office (NARA) has also begun to take this approach, and will soon be even more widespread.

Summing up the preliminary result, we will once again list the factors that currently have a significant impact on the practice of managing records:

  • eDiscovery
  • new approach to record definition;
  • readiness for inspections;
  • the President’s decree on the transition to electronic storage of documents;
  • “Achieve more with less”;
  • transition to an enlarged classification by shelf life.

The second part of this article will examine in detail the reaction of the ECM market to the current situation.