Deletion Approval Process

By Blake Richardson, CRM posted 09-27-2012 21:40


Over the past nine months I have had the pleasure of participating on a team that is evaluating several CM applications in an effort to replace our organization’s legacy system.  This process has been very educational and enlightening. 

As a CIP, CRM and long-time records manager I have concluded that most CM applications do document management very well and records management is an afterthought or vice versa.  It amazes me that no vendor has been able to combine the best of both.

I recently attended a CM user conference (one of the vendors that we are evaluating).  One of the sessions I attended was “Automating Records Management”.  The speaker, an employee of the CM vendor, started the session by stating, “We feel your pain; we know how difficult our records management module is to configure and maintain.”  My first thought is – if you acknowledge and feel my pain, then take the necessary steps to make me feel better!

I could go on and on; however, the point of this blog post is to bring attention to a specific records management issue – the deletion approval process.  For years organizations have been depositing content in CM applications without considering what to do when retention periods expire.  This may sound presumptuous.  However, after many conversations with vendors and end-users I feel qualified to make this statement. 

During the CM vendor evaluation process I have provided the vendors with my requirements for the deletion approval requirements – none of the vendors have the full capability out-of-the –box.  I do not believe that I am asking for anything unreasonable.  My organization has a multi-tiered approval process – department head, records manager, Tax and Legal Department.  I am fully aware that in a physical records management environment it is feasible to review a couple of hundred boxes that are eligible for destruction.  However, in an electronic environment this may mean that 200 boxes become 10,000 electronic files. 

Most vendors have the ability to auto-delete files.  However, in my conversations with vendors and end-users, most organizations are not yet comfortable deleting content without a review process.  Here in lies the rub.  I believe that we are in an organizational infancy when it comes to deleting electronic content.  At some point companies will have to make a decision as to how they will review electronic content for deletion.  However, in the meantime (1-3 years) records managers will have to work with their organizations to acclimate them to the deletion approval process.

With this being said, CM vendors need to address the issue.  This means providing functionality that allows organizations to review content that is eligible for destruction at the document type level with the ability to drill-down to individual files.  Including the ability to exclude document types during the deletion approval process as well as individual files and provide reasons for excluding the content from deletion.

Over the next few years I believe this issue is going to become more and more of an issue.  CM vendors should pay attention and develop the necessary functionality and flexibility to address their customer’s and prospective customer’s needs. 

#CM #ElectronicRecordsManagement #approval #deletion