Magazine article Information Management

Systems Automation: A Way to Reduce RIM Risk

Magazine article Information Management

Systems Automation: A Way to Reduce RIM Risk

Article excerpt

With executive management's buy-in, information technology (IT) and records and information management (RIM) professionals can collaborate to execute systems automation solutions that mitigate risk. An organization's legal/regulatory requirements, based on its business mandates, can be synchronized with automated processes, which is a crucial benefit in our dynamic, global business environment.

Further, automation can transition paper-based RIM tasks to an efficient, digitally focused environment where activities require fewer personnel and less time to complete. The international case study presented in this article offers an example of a manufacturing company's efforts to move from paper document processing to a web-based, digital platform using an automated systems solution.

Making the Case for Automation

RIM-related risks can take a variety of forms, including the following:

* Failure to preserve needed documents for litigation

* Incomplete or nonexistent procedures for the use of document archives

* Untimely or accidental destruction of documents

* Lost documents

* Inappropriately indexed documents

* Security breaches

* Obsolescence of document formats or media

* Outdated or incomplete retention schedules

Automated system solutions can improve document flows and enhance an organization's compliance with its RIM requirements and with industry-related legal and regulatory mandates. Risk is mitigated when proper systems and solutions are enacted.

When the manual, hands-on steps of a task are replaced by a systemized, automated process, streamlining can occur. Generally, more output can be achieved with less input. In a paper-based environment, the physical touchpoints where documents are handled, duplicated, stacked, and stored can be numerous. Each touchpoint represents a potentially riskladen event. For instance, a document can be ruined by careless handling, it can be misplaced in a disorganized cabinet, or its sensitive information can be revealed to prying eyes as it lays on a desktop. By reducing the number of touchpoints, the opportunities for mishaps decrease.

Exploring the Benefits of Automation

Benefits of document management via automated systems include the following:

* A comprehensive audit trail that includes essential metadata capture; reports can be ordered on an ad hoc or regular basis

* Automatic archiving and indexing of documents following the creation of each scanned, digital image

* Automated version control

* Digital conversion and migration to maintain file accessibility and usability despite evolving technologies

* Improved document security through the use of digital safeguards on a system-wide basis (e.g., encryption and virtual private networks (VPN) for remote access)

* Faster turnaround time for process-related revisions to accommodate changes in the legal and regulatory climates

* More robust lifecycle management with the inclusion of retention schedules as part of the systems platform design

* Fewer human errors due to less physical handling of documents

* Time savings from faster document processing due to less physical handling of documents

* Fewer staff members needed to perform document processing tasks due to less physical handling of documents

* Quality enhancements related to the use of a consistent, standardized process, regardless of staff changes

* Greater options for scheduling flexibility offered by a web-based solution so that telecommuting is feasible

* Cost savings in the long term as document processing requires less labor and time and fewer employees

Other Helpful Aspects of Systems Automation

Organizations can use systems automation to track operational metrics. Because many metadata elements are routinely captured in these systems, it's possible to investigate specific components of an operational procedure by selecting unique elements for report generation. …

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