What's the Duration of Your RIM Strategic Plan?

By Mark Mandel posted 06-16-2010 10:28

  

Recently I attended a meeting of IT folks and the discussion revolved around strategic plans.  A point was made that one year plans are best because everything changes very quickly in today's tech environment.  That is true, and for many IT environments this dynamic has everyone moving at warp speed.

For Records Management, on the other hand, your plan needs to encompass active and inactive records, and most importantly those vital and historic records that are important for your organization's long term viability.  A "permanent" record is one which is saved for the life of the enterprise.  For government, this means "for the life of the Republic."   Therefore your time horizon is 500 years or more.

In a practical sense, what does this mean for a RIM strategic plan?

Your plan must take into account that the software application and storage medium that manages your records must allow for viability 500 years in the future.  That's why microfilm is still around - it is an analog media that has a 500 year life.   Paper records, if stored correctly, can last that long or longer.

Digital records are more problematic.  They must be stored in a way that they can be migrated periodically to new storage technology.  Remember those 12 inch optical platters that were state of the art in 1990?  A flash drive today can store more information than the largest optical platter from just a couple of decades ago. 

Records must be stored in a format that can be read by software 500 years in the future. That's why standards such as TIFF and PDF/A are important.  This need for periodic migration is called Digital Preservation.

Your records management software will go through upgrades, new releases, and eventually will be superseded by new software.  How will you migrate the data (including file plans, records and metadata, retention rules) from the old application to the new, many times over?

Your RIM strategic plan needs to have a long time horizon, looking at periodic migration of content from one platform to another.  Software and hardware components of the plan need to include planned replacement with new technology every 5 to 10 years.  Your budget estimates and long term operations costs must also take this into account.

It is not enough to build a RIM or ECM system, train everyone, and put it into operation.  You must also plan for technology obsolescence and for migration of the solution over time so that the long term records of the organization are preserved.

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