July 26, 2019

How to Manage Your Sprawling Content

3 minute read

Sprawling content, the spread of content across multiple repositories, has been a thorn in the side of records managers since the dawn of document management. Consolidation of repositories, which began in the early 2000s, at first looked to be the solution. However, it ended up highlighting the problems of content sprawl due to the high costs of consolidation as well as need for records managers to manage multiple file plans. Federated records management offers a solution to these problems but doesn’t offer the same locked-down approach with regards to regulation that consolidation can. Consolidation of repositories and federated records management both have pros and cons and, depending on your organization’s content management processes and repositories, one can be more beneficial than the other in the long term.

In the early 2000s, the occurrence of sprawling content coincided with the push to consolidate repositories. After the era of legacy systems, consolidation seemed to be the ideal way to handle records management at the time seeing as records were very difficult to manage. Consolidation seemingly only made the problems plaguing records managers worse due to the steep price and companies continuing to store content in other repositories.

Is Consolidation a Pipe Dream?

These problems regarding consolidation led to the realization that consolidation was unattainable, and instead another solution was needed. This led to the idea behind federated records management. Federated records management is made up of three key pieces:

  • The ability to manage content in place. This means that records managers can leave the content in the current repository eliminating the need to worry about content migration between repositories.
  • A single, unified file plan that controls the documents in all your repositories. This eliminates the need for records managers to stay on top of a separate file plan for every repository being used.
  • Repository-agnostic architecture, which means that where the information lives doesn’t matter since the single file plan reaches it no matter where it’s stored. Repository-agnostic simply means configuring your system so that your file plan and retention schedules live outside of any one system, but can reach into them all.

Ultimately, federated records management simplifies the document management process for all of those involved.

Simplify Information Management for Users

An increase in sprawling content can be confusing for your organization’s end-users. Increasing the number of repositories, processes, retention schedules, and systems of disposal can prove daunting to those in who need to understand how to use them. Despite the high costs, consolidation offers a more hands on approach when it comes to regulating your records. Federated records management, or the management of records in-place within the systems from which they originate, can offer a cost-effective solution that simplifies processes by taking users out of the equation in many vital information management processes.

There are pros and cons to both consolidation and federated records management. In reality, consolidating your records can be costly and time-consuming. Federated records management, on the other hand, presents a solution to many of the issues that consolidation cannot address.

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