Think back ten or fifteen years. How many different collaboration systems was your organization using? You were probably handling a lot of paper, trying to empty your email inbox, and storing important files in a document management system.
Today, that has all changed. If you’re like most people, you may be working with network file shares, one or more document management systems, an ERP system, an HR system, a CRM system, email, and more!
Now think about how records management has changed. Moving all your important documents and records from all these systems into a single repository is no longer a viable option. You’d be spending all day, every day just moving records into the appropriate system. You need a way to manage the records that these systems are creating within the system itself. This is referred to as in-place records management.
However, managing records in their native systems means that your record management policies need to be implemented within that system. Many companies have tried this approach only to realize that many of systems do not have the features needed to apply records policies. And, of the ones that do have these capabilties, keeping them up to date and synchronized in an ever-changing regulatory atmosphere is virtually impossible! There must be a way to combine the benefits of managing policies centrally but apply them across multiple systems.
The Best of Both Worlds
One of the main reasons that in-place records management with federated policy is becoming popular is because it responds to the reality of the modern workplace. No organization creates all of its content within a single platform – each business unit requires a unique set of capabilities, file types, and processes. Despite that, records originate everywhere. If an organization is constantly migrating content from collaboration platforms to dedicated records repositories, it creates the side effect of restricting access to important information to people trained on those systems.
A federated approach to managing records in place nullifies this issue while retaining the benefit of centralized management. By abstracting where the policies are created and managed, an organization can apply a single set of rules across a variety of business systems. Access can still be managed and limited intelligently without a draconian embargo enforced by opaque silos.
Also, records managers are experts in records management, but are not necessarily experts in the types of content they manage. They don’t create records – they apply policy to them. In-place records management allows content creators to maintain visibility into the records they created so that the organization can make sure that the information being managed is also providing actionable insight.
A federated approach to records management is more adaptive, and allows an organization to transition from legacy systems at its own pace. If a platform is to be decommissioned, the information that is actively being utilized can be moved to its new home while archived records can be left in-place under the federated policies that dispose of them over the course of time, saving time and money on migration.
Another way in-place records management is more cost effective is by supporting platform rationalization. By augmenting existing systems with advanced records management capabilities, a business avoids the need to implement a costly enterprise content management (ECM) platform such as OpenText that does not communicate with primary business systems or require the organization to store duplicate copies of files.
If parallel infrastructure already exists, cost benefits are still achieved by eliminating the necessity of maintaining identical file plans across systems and by offering a tighter integration with other services that users employ to generate content that becomes records.
Less End User Disruption
The benefits of in-place records management extend all the way to the end user. By allowing records to remain in their system of origination, users will not have to do any work outside of systems with which they are already familiar. Furthermore, most federated records management systems have the ability to auto-classify content so that the responsibility for properly categorizing a document or record is removed from the end user. This not only dramatically reduces the number of categorization errors, but makes it much, much easier for the end user to add content into the system. This drives adoption of the system and improves compliance with established policies.
The auto-generated metadata can be easily leveraged by enterprise search engines to allow end users to quickly find the content they need,regardless of the system in which it is housed. This enables end users to access the content they need, when they need it, without having to navigate a myriad of different repositories (or ask records managers to help them), thereby improving end user productivity and effectiveness.
The more effort any initiative requires from the end user, the less likely it is to be successful. A well-defined records strategy is useless without adoption and enforcement, and an in-place strategy is the easiest way to remove some of the biggest roadblocks to success in these areas.
Modern Records Management for Modern Organizations
In summary, a federated approach to in-place records combines the maintainability of centralized records schedules and policies with the flexibility of a distribution of the policies across multiple systems and repositories. It is easier for records managers to maintain, it simplifies the management for IT, and it makes the end users’ lives easier.
By Jude O'Neill