Implementing Records Management for an Existing Repository

Implementing a solution for records retention and disposition on an existing system is often significantly different than implementing one for a new repository.  Here are some actions that can be taken today, to help ease into an RM implementation in 2013.

The Challenge

In order to comply with records management standards such as ISO-15489 and DOD 5015.2 solutions from vendors, such as Documentum and Alfresco, expect the content model to organize documents within the framework of a pre-defined file plan. File plans manage the complete disposition life cycle of documents and dictate the folder organization and metadata required of folders and documents. While a new implementation can consider the RM model from the beginning, the need to retro-fit an existing solution into the RM model is one of the toughest challenges for using out of the box (OOTB) records management functionality.

A Creative Solution

It may take an update to the content model and perhaps some creative brainstorming to develop a solution, but it’s certainly possible to implement the functionality found in RM software for an established repository. TSG has developed solutions for clients that report and disposition eligible documents and initiate periodic review processes as part of controlled document solutions. The key to any RM solution though is to first define the file plan for a document type, or better yet all documents involved in a business process. One of the benefits of defining the retention and disposition all at once for document types involved in a business process is the high level of confidence that should a record in the process be needed or dispositioned then all the related records will be available for review as well.

Where to Start

There are 5 steps that can be done now that will make an RM implementation much easier in the future. Generally, these are also best practices for implementing any ECM system.

  1. Identify documents that are part of the same business process.
  2. Determine the owner of the document, this should be specified as a position in the organization not a named person.
  3. Confirm that the document security is correct. It may be unnecessarily tight or too loose.
  4. Seek guidance from the Legal Department and Owner to specify the retention period for the document.
  5. Identify what regulations or auditable actions are relevant for the document

Overall, determine if implementing Records Management can be done incrementally.  For example, are there small things that can be done now such as automatic reporting and tracking of retention dates?

Where to Learn More 

ARMA International has a wealth of resources for learning more about records management and how to create a file plan.

We’d love to hear about your RM experiences and plans for 2013 in the comments.

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