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What's the Point of Federated Records Management?

Storing vital information across various repositories can get complicated and daunting, a burden that is all too often placed upon the end-users. As your organization has grown, odds are the number of places or repositories to store your content has grown proportionally, if not at a greater rate. If you’re having trouble managing all your content in various repositories, implementing a federated management system can help. No longer would it be necessary to go through multiple complicated processes to locate, dispose of, or otherwise manage documents and records. Letting a federated records management system simplify your content allows for your organization to be more efficient.

What is Federated Records Management?

When describing federated records management, it might be helpful to think of the way a Google search is conducted. By aggregating a lot of data across multiple repositories, Google’s federated search algorithm is designed to get you the most relevant material based on your search, regardless of that data’s location. In a very similar fashion, a federated (as opposed to centralized) records management solution can search for your content from one hub across multiple locations, giving its users the most relevant material. Aggregation sorted by relevance is able to give the end-user exactly what they want throughout all of the organization’s content storage, without needing to worry about which repository to search.

What’s the Point of Federated Records Management?

A federated system allows for users to manage their content truly in-place. For example, if you have records stored in Documentum, SharePoint, and a physical repository, federated records management can set rules and processes for that content from one hub. The content itself never has to move, and can be accessed from one singular access point despite being stored in three or more different repositories. Because the content doesn’t move, your workflows remain unaffected, saving time and money that would go into updating the workflows already in place. By making it easier for records managers to find important content, time (and therefore additional money) is saved.

Migrating and consolidating content is extremely costly, but allowing a federated system to use its reach instead can save your from the need to do. As an added bonus, since there is no requirement to use a different interface or change locations, your content is able to stay where it is and users will be able to search for it the same way.

Often times, having information in separate databases requires multiple file plans unique to their respective repositories. A federated policy allows for your organization to have one file plan that can be implemented across all of your data repositories, simplifying the business process. Your policies can be managed by a single web with a single view into which records are being managed with which policies.

Finally, a federated records management system is repository-agnostic, meaning it doesn’t matter where the content lives. You can apply retention from one location and be able to reach out to those various repositories, applying the same (or specialized) processes to them all.

A Single File Plan for Everything?

A federated solution is certainly not the solution for everyone. Keep in mind that a federated records management system:

  • Allows for the management of content in-place
  • Avoids the costly expense of migrating and consolidating content
  • Applies a single file plan across all repositories
  • Can apply retention, whether the same of different, to all locations

So, if you’re looking to be able to control all your content from one access point, without costly consolidation and migration, federated records management might be the perfect solution for you.

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Creating a Retention Schedule that Works

Creating a usable, automated, and simple file plan is an important part of ensuring records are managed in a consistent manner and that you are protected from legal risks, such as failure to disclose information during a discovery proceeding or the unauthorized leakage of information. The first step in the process is creating a retention schedule, which outlines how long records are kept in accordance with the organization’s obligations and the law.

How to Manage Your Sprawling Content

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.