How to Successfully Implement an E-Records Management Program: Recognizing the Need for Collaboration, the Records Management and Information Technology Departments of the Company Highlighted in This Case Study Partnered to Implement a Successful Enterprise-Wide Electronic Records Management Program

By Dionne, Mimi; Carboni, Adele | Information Management, March-April 2009 | Go to article overview

How to Successfully Implement an E-Records Management Program: Recognizing the Need for Collaboration, the Records Management and Information Technology Departments of the Company Highlighted in This Case Study Partnered to Implement a Successful Enterprise-Wide Electronic Records Management Program


Dionne, Mimi, Carboni, Adele, Information Management


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Building on its successful implementation of an e-mail management program, the company featured in this case study turned to holistic e-records management.

From its inception, the project's fast pace drove its success. In the first 90 days, the team established the records inventory, records policies and procedures, records retention schedule, and folder structures. During the next 90 days, the team outlined the project structure and deliverables for all the company's e-records, including e-mail and file shares. But the project began with the company's motivation to make changes.

Motivating Factors for RM

Records management (RM) programs are typically created for one of four reasons--the last two being the most common:

* Management embraces RM principles because it wants to manage its records better.

* The organization recognizes that proper RM will give it an advantage over its competitors.

* The organization is unable to locate important records and wants to improve its ability to do so.

* A litigation hold or investigation prompts the organization to focus on RM.

Critical Ingredients for Success

The case study company's project's success was largely due to three things: (1) its level of executive support and resources given; (2) the ability of RM and IT staff to collaborate; and (3) the organization's ability to apply RM policies.

Executive Support

The support from the case study company's executive committee for an e-records implementation strategically placed the RM program in an advantageous light.

However, the RM and IT teams approached the project from differing viewpoints and with an unclear division of responsibilities. To resolve these issues, the teams spent a week with a RM consultant and fashioned a common approach to the project plan of developing an electronic content management system (ECMS) and, as a result, a strong e-records program.

This illustrates that when upper management strongly supports a project by providing a healthy budget, a reasonable scope, and the correct RM resources--and when staff collaborate--it can be successful.

Collaboration

The case study company assigned the RM team as the business owner of the ECMS, while the IT staff became responsible for project management. The program's architecture and implementation were designed jointly by the two partners.

IT and RM found themselves at odds several times during the development of the architecture. (Interestingly, in the development of the architecture, the ability to apply retention won every time). To resolve the conflicts, the team members deferred to rules agreed upon during their week-long strategy session in which they framed the project and addressed several parameters, including:

* This was not a uniform file classification environment. (A uniform file classification had been attempted earlier but failed when consensus could not be reached.)

* Duplicates would need to be purged from the system. This was accomplished by running an algorithm periodically that looked at several key fields (e.g., date, time, file size, subject, to and from) and ranked them in a Google-like report from 100% to 90%. Accepting a 3% margin of error, the e-mail from the sender was retained (allowing for multiple pointers based on user requirement) and duplicates were deleted.

* Based on how users searched for e-mail, this search needed to be customized, including a way to differentiate if the e-mail had attachments.

* A default folder called "No Fit" was used in every department's folder structure to guarantee a place for every record.

* A tool called "Send Intercept" was developed to force attributes for each record declared into the repository called the "corporate workspace."

* Metadata was used to pre-populate attributes where possible, depending on the object type in the system. …

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