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The Top Ten Issues in Records Management Today


The Top Ten Issues in Records Management Today Presented to the: North Jersey Chapter ARMA International By: David O. Stephens, CRM, FAI September 15, 2010 – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Top Ten Issues in Records Management Today

The Top Ten Issues in Records Management Today
  • Presented to the
  • North Jersey Chapter
  • ARMA International
  • By
  • David O. Stephens, CRM, FAI
  • September 15, 2010

Issue 1 - The growing role of RM as a significant
issue in organizational management
  • Let your Eminence give
  • orders throughout each and
  • every province that a
  • building be erected in which
  • to store the records . . . So
  • that they may remain
  • uncorrupted and may be
  • found quickly by those
  • requiring them . . .
  • The Emperor Justinian
  • Roman Empire, 6th century A.D.

Recordkeeping is in transition . . . and so is
  • When I started in RM in 1972, the discipline was
    about exercising direct custody over physical
    records in file rooms and records centers our
    only technology was microfilm.
  • Now, the discipline has transitioned to one
    concerned largely with policy planning, systems
    development and compliance monitoring across
    all media types!

Issue 2 RMs role in the transition to the
(nearly) paperless office
  • For decades, the term paperless office was
    greeted with ridicule in the RM community.
  • Even today, some Luddites still cling
    tenaciously and irrationally to the notion
    that paper will be with us forever that the
    long-awaited but hitherto unrealized paperless
    office is and will remain a myth.

Consider the analogy of the horse and buggy at
the dawn of the Automotive Age
  • To argue the case for paper-based recordkeeping
    today is akin to extolling the virtues of the
    horse and buggy . . . . when, in Dearborn,
    Michigan, a guy named Henry Ford was just
    starting to mass-produce what was undeniably a
    better mousetrap the Model T the Tin Lizzie
    that changed America and the world!!!
  • With every year that passes, paper files are
    (correctly) regarded as archaic, particularly by
    the younger generation of office workers who
    grew up with technology, not file cabinets!

Paper records A long, slow decline
  • Today, no sophisticated organization runs off
    paper it runs off system-based information
  • With every year that passes, paper records are
    relegated to the status of casual printouts.
  • So, even today, we still have quite a lot of
    paper, but its rapidly declining as a
    significant factor in organizational

Yes, paper records are going the way of the horse
and buggy!
  • Although its early demise has been wrongly
    predicted, paper is (sooner rather than later) on
    the way out just like the horse and buggy!
  • The technology to de-paper business offices has
    been invented during the past 30 years and is
    just now beginning to make a significant impact.
  • It will take another decade or even a little
    longer to come to fruition. But it will

RMs must facilitate the transition to the
(nearly) paperless office!
  • Example The Bank of America is one of the
    worlds largest consumers of paper!
  • Under its new Enterprise Digital Records Policy
    mandate, the goal is to convert to digital format
    all legacy paper applications, for which a viable
    business case can be made, by 2013!
  • This is, of course, a daunting challenge to cite
    just one example, the Bank sends monthly
    statements to 50 of all U.S. households!
  • Key enabling legislation E-commerce, digital
    signature and electronic transactions acts.

Issue 3 RMs role in regulatory compliance and
litigation risk reduction
  • While this issue is more compelling for business
    corporations than for governmental entities, this
    remains the key driver for RM as practiced in
    the U.S.
  • This is why records retention remains the
    mainstay of professional practice!

Demonstrating compliance in recordkeeping Three
key principles
  • That the organization is conducting its business
    with honesty and integrity, and in a manner
    consistent with the public interest as well as
    its own.
  • That the organizations records are properly
    maintained and preserved, in case they may be
    needed as evidence in government investigations,
    litigation, audits or other legal proceedings.
  • That the organization is in full compliance with
    all applicable laws and regulations, in letter,
    spirit and good faith.

In the eyes of the law, its not the medium that
matters, its the integrity of the content!
  • In general, the law doesnt care what medium
    content has been recorded on.
  • Rather, the key issue is whether the content is
    trustworthy that is, it has not be falsified in
    pursuit of some malicious purpose!
  • The goal To pass the tests of reasonableness and
    good faith!

Electronic records Five key principles for
demonstrating legal sufficiency
  1. Store and preserve them in a manner and format
    that provides reasonable assurance that they will
    be retrievable, usable and printable throughout
    the duration of their authorized retention
  2. The format should allow for validation, audits,
    reporting, and disclosure
  3. Store and preserve them in a manner that
    reasonably safeguards them from loss,
    unauthorized alteration or destruction.
  4. At such time in the life cycle when a record has
    been finalized and thus possesses the
    characteristics of an officially retained record,
    the record should be retained in a format that
    does not alter its contents.
  5. Maintain complete documentation to demonstrate
    that the records were created in the normal
    course of business by accurate and reliable
    processes and that internal controls are in place
    to safeguard them from unauthorized modification
    or deletion.

In litigation, its not the records you no longer
retain that cause the most problems, its those
that remain
  • An organizations attorneys can more easily
    defend the absence of documents that have been
    systematically destroyed under an established
    retention policy than they can defend the
    information content of existing records.
  • In other words, if you no longer have a record,
    you just need a good reason why that record was
  • Thus, from a litigation risk avoidance
    perspective, the goal should be to retain only
    those records needed to conduct business and
    comply with the law.

The best strategy for mitigating e-discovery and
litigation risks . . .
  • . . . retain only whats needed to operate the
    business, comply with the law, and meet
    reasonable needs to retain history!
  • All other records should be regarded as
  • They should be systematically discarded under
    approved retention policies that can be defended
    as compliant and reasonable!

Issue 4 RMs role in enhancing the
accessibility of information content
  • Miss Lemon, secretary to Hercule Poirot
  • Her real passion in life was the perfection of a
    filing system beside which all other filing
    systems should sink into oblivion. She dreamed
    of such a system at night.
  • Source Agatha Christie, How Does Your Garden
    Grow, 1931.

The value of information is directly
proportionate to its accessibility
  • An organization may possess a single kernel of
    information upon which its entire future rests,
    but if those who seek it cannot find it, the
    golden nugget is worthless.

Google . . . The search engine that changed the
  • User experience with Googles public search
    engine, which has demonstrated the power of
    search to find needed information on the
    Internet, has greatly raised the bar of
  • Why cant I find information in my organization
    like I can find information on the Web using
  • The rising tide of expectations is causing
    companies to rethink search technology and its
    role in overall content management.
  • Source Matthew Brown, Enterprise Search
    Platforms, Cambridge, MA Forrester, 2006.

In response to any (properly formulated) search
query, one of five things can happen
  • The system delivers all the documents /
    information requested and no others.
  • The system delivers all the documents desired, as
    well as others deemed not relevant.
  • The system delivers some of the requested
    documents, but not all.
  • The system delivers some documents, none,
    however, are deemed relevant.
  • The system delivers no documents at all and some
    are known to exist that are relevant to the
  • It is the task of RM to ensure that No. 1 occurs
    consistently across the enterprise!

Your best chance of finding the needle in the
  • In large and complex unstructured content
    environments, the best chance of consistent
    precise and timely retrieval results from a
    combination of
  • A good and well implemented document taxonomy
    schema, combined with . . .
  • A robust full-text search engine!

Issue 5 Getting to (nearly) perfect in records
  • Sadly, most records retention programs are not
    organized around success and are under-managed.
  • Most have no long-term management plan or
    strategy for achieving success.
  • So, just like every self-fulfilling prophesy,
    success in retention remains elusive!

Best practice in enterprise RM requires the
systematic application of rules, tools and
implementation strategies in five recordkeeping
  • 1. Active paper records at departmental
  • 2. Inactive paper records in storage facilities
  • 3. Personal working papers kept in desks,
    credenzas and bookcases
  • 4. Structured database applications managed by IT
  • 5. Unstructured electronic records (email and
    others), controlled by their creators

A top RM goal No more unmanaged storage closets
paper or digital!
  • Regardless of whether they used for the storage
    of paper or electronic records, every storage
    repository must be managed such that the content
    is fully accessible, readily retrievable, and
    safe and secure.
  • Moreover, the lifecycle of the content in all
    repositories must be properly managed under
    approved retention rules.
  • This basic principle should be enshrined in
    organizational policy!

Getting to perfect in retention Three key
  • You must have a workable strategy for modifying
    employee behavioral tendencies for indefinite
    retention. Mandated records purge days are
    strongly recommended.
  • Any strategy that over-relies on user
    classification of content into retention
    buckets has a high probability of failure.
  • Compliance monitoring is key Success in
    enterprise retention requires a police and a

Rome wasnt built in a day (and neither will
perfection in records retention!)
  • Organizations should establish a 5-year goal of
    applying retention rules in all 5 recordkeeping
  • Poorly managed warehouse storage and IT-managed
    system applications will require multi-year

Issue 6 The role of electronic records
retention in improved data lifecycle management
  • What happens to computer data as it ages?
  • Does the value of data increase or decrease as
    time passes?
  • Do storage management requirements change as data
    ages through its lifecycle?
  • In the world of paper, these are questions that
    records managers have addressed for decades!
  • But not in the world of IT, where retention has
    not been widely practiced.

Is there a viable business case for applying
retention rules to electronic records?
  • With media capacity increasing at 60 per year
    and the cost-per-megabyte declining at 35 per
    year, it is often assumed that there is no viable
    business case for electronic records retention.
  • But . . . this view neglects the explosive growth
    of data and increases in the total cost of data

Bringing retention functionality to structured
database applications
  • In most organizations, the large majority of
    databases and other IT-managed applications lack
    the requisite functionality to execute retention
  • The solution
  • A new policy that requires that IT work with the
    data owners and RM staff to incorporate such
    functionality at the time of the next technology
  • Since technology upgrade cycles average 5 years,
    at the end of this time period, most applications
    can be made retention-capable / compliant.
  • Of course, the policy must also require that new
    applications must incorporate retention
    functionality at the time of initial design /

Issue 7 Email Still the biggest RM challenge!
  • Even today, 15 years after it came into common
    office usage, email is still the biggest RM
    challenge for most organizations.
  • For many, the only email solutions they have in
    place are mailbox capacity limits and archiving
    messages to PST files stored on local hard
  • This is not best but worst practice!!!

Consider the analogy of the postal mail you
receive at home . . .
  • When you go home tonight, youll get your mail
    out of your mailbox.
  • There will be bills, magazines, and junk mail.
  • Youll discard the junk mail, put the magazines
    on the coffee table or night stand, and put the
    bills in the pending file for payment.
  • But you wont put any mail back in the mailbox!
  • Well, thats exactly whats happening in many
    email environments!

The email environment should be restricted to
current communications only!
  • Many e-mail users retain hundreds, even
    thousands, of e-mails, in their messaging
    environment. This is not best but worst
  • A top records management priority is to ensure
    that the messaging system is not morphed from an
    e-post office into an unmanaged archive!

Traditional RM orthodoxy A receipt for failure!
  • For years, RMs said that the way to manage
    retention was to hold the users responsible for
    classifying it by matching message content to the
    proper records series in the retention schedule
    and then saving the messages in a repository
    where the retention rules could be satisfied.
  • But, asking users to classify 30 to 60 or more
    e-mails per day in accordance with a taxonomy and
    save them to an ERMS or ECM solution is not
    practical aint gonna happen!!!

Retention rule No. 1 Email of transitory
(short-term) value
  • Typically defined as any messages requiring
    retention for 90 days or less.
  • Employees are empowered (indeed they should be
    required by organizational mandate!) to delete
    email of transitory value daily.
  • Guidance is given as to what constitutes email of
    this type.
  • This requires 10 to 15 minutes per day.
  • For most employees, the volume of such messages
    is 20 to 60 percent of the total.

Retention rule No. 2 Email of routine
business value
  • A standard or default retention period for
    email of routine business value is established
    by policy.
  • It is effectuated by automatically transferring,
    without user involvement or decision-making, all
    e-mail remaining in employees mailboxes when the
    messages have aged 90 days to a dedicated email
    archival repository, where they will remain for
    the duration of the approved retention period.
  • When the messages have aged to the duration of
    the retention period, they will be purged, again
    without user intervention or decision-making.
  • To operationalize this strategy, youll need an
    email archiving tool (software solution).

Retention rule No. 3 Email of long-term
retention value
  • Defined as messages requiring retention longer
    than the retention period for email of routine
    business value), based on their content as
    compared to the rules in the organizations
    retention schedule.
  • These messages must be saved in a separate
    repository that can satisfy their retention
  • Printed and filed in paper format.
  • Saved to another software application (ERMS, ECM,
    or other solution).
  • Many employees wont have any emails of this
    value in most organizations the total volume of
    such messages will range between 5 to 10 percent
    of all messages.

Lets summarize these three email retention rules
. . .
  1. Email of Transitory Value Destroy daily by
  2. Email of Routine Business Value Subject to
    standard, approved default retention rule (3 to
    7 years) and implemented automatically in
    archiving software
  3. Email of Extended-term Retention Value Users
    responsible for retaining as scheduled in
    approved retention repository

Issue 8 Cleaning out the digital closets
Records retention and unstructured content
  • Lets take a brief look at the biggest forms of
    digital closets in todays organizations
    SharePoint sites and fileshares on network
  • Apart from email, PSTs and local hard drives,
    these are the biggest RM challenges today where
    unstructured content is concerned.

SharePoint The de facto standard for enterprise
  • Just like our closets at home, content tends to
    be saved, indiscriminately, without regard to its
    retention status.
  • Further, site owners / administrators often
    neglect to manage retention of inactive sites.
  • While the software possesses the functionality
    for the automatic identification and clean-up
    of unused sites, this, too, is often neglected.
  • Basic policy principal
  • Site content should be retained for a
    predetermined period of time after the site is
    declared inactive.

Retention rules for SharePoint site content
  • The default? retention rule
  • Date of site inactive status 3 to 7 years, as
    selected by the site owner and approved by RM, at
    which point all content will be purged /
  • Exceptions can be granted i.e. sites can be
    designated for permanent preservation for
    historical purposes.
  • Finally, users should be empowered to delete
    duplicates, drafts and working papers saved to
    the site at any time.

Issue 9 The significance of the new software
  • Today, for the first time ever, the goal of total
    life cycle management, through a retention
    methodology supported by computer software, is
    within reach!
  • This is the holy grail of RM!
  • At present, a total of 52 software solutions have
    been certified under DoD 5015.2!
  • More good news Retention functionality is
    increasingly being built into native software

For the first time, large computer companies get
into the RM business
  • For decades, records management was perceived as
    tangential to the larger enterprise information
    management agenda because large computer
    companies werent in the records management
  • But, in the last five years, things have changed
  • In 2002 IBM acquired Tarian Software and
    announced plans to integrate records management
    capabilities across its entire software
  • In 2006, IBM enhanced its position in the market
    by its acquisition of FileNet.
  • In 2003 EMC acquired Documentum and launched an
    Information Lifecycle Management business.
  • In 2006, Oracle acquired Stellent.
  • These and other developments have the potential
    to elevate records management to another level of
    legitimacy as an information management
    initiative of enterprise strategic significance.

Issue 10 The role of RM in preserving the
digital record
  • Our IT department tells me they can support data
    retention requirements up to 5 years with
    certainty. From 5 to 10 years, with a little bit
    of luck. After 10 years, there are no
  • Source Edie Allen, Records Manager (retired)
    Battelle Memorial Labs

Why digital preservation?
  • If an organization creates a record in electronic
    format in, say, the year 2006, and this record
    will need to be digitally processed and read many
    years later, how, exactly, can this requirement
    be supported in a technology environment in which
    the only constant is rapid change?

Digital preservation Eight best / recommended
  • 1. Records selection
  • 2. Storage media selection
  • 3. Data migration
  • 4. Standardize file formats
  • 5. Media recopying
  • 6. Metadata management
  • 7. Systems documentation
  • 8. Media storage and maintenance

Can the nations digital archives be preserved
for posterity?
  • In the Age of Paper, the U.S. National Archives
    (established by President Roosevelt in 1934) went
    from nowhere to world leadership in 15 years!
  • With paper we could do it, but can this feat be
    replicated in the Digital Age at any level of
  • This remains an open question!

And finally, the thought for the day . . .
  • We have two ends
  • With a common link
  • With one we sit
  • With the other we think
  • Success depends on which we use
  • Heads we win
  • Tails we lose!
  • Source Anonymous
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