Make RM Simpler

By Susan Cisco posted 09-22-2010 09:57


Implementations of Enterprise Content and Records Management (ECRM) systems have mostly been complicated and expensive. I don’t put all the blame on the ECRM solutions. If the underlying processes being automated are complicated, then the resulting systems are likely to be complicated.  So before automating records management, the underlying processes need to be simplified.

According to Michael Schrage, research fellow at MIT Sloan School’s Center for Digital Business, improved simplicity is a byproduct of improved accountability. Accountability means that someone has interviewed the process owner or appropriate business team leaders and asked, "What does 'simple for staff' mean and how do we measure it?" Schrage recommends choosing whatever measures of effectiveness seem appropriate — time, number of steps, rework, etc.

RM professionals need to step up and be held accountable for simplifying RM. Build and lead a team with key stakeholders to systematically streamline RM processes to enhance adoptability of future ECRM systems. Start with the retention and legal hold processes:

  1. For records, streamline your retention schedule to 50-100 record series/buckets. Julie Gable, Carol Brock, and others (including me) promulgate the benefits of applying the big bucket approach to retention schedules.
  2. For everything else, establish a streamlined information lifecycle. Temporary, Work in Progress, and Record are the most common three lifecycle states. You’ll need to determine the enterprise retention periods for the Temporary and Work in Progress states. The retention periods for records are determined by the retention schedule.
  3. Streamline the legal/preservation hold process. Set a clear policy with procedures that define the who, what, when and how the legal hold process is to take place. John Isaza Esq. reminded me that, “it is critical to suspend not just the destruction of records, but also to preserve all data, documents and information in the systems that is relevant to the subject matter of the pending or threatened litigation or investigation.”
  4. Dispose of obsolete information, automatically if possible. With an approved and up-to-date retention schedule, information lifecycle, and legal hold process in place, routine disposition of records and information whose retention periods have been satisfied can begin.
  5. Learn from others. Every day I see valuable lessons being shared on this site, on the RM listserv, and in periodicals and webcasts. These frequently reflect new tools that are applied in new ways and contain important insights. 
  6. Get started. There are complex issues and technology is changing rapidly, but this will always be the case.  There are benefits to be derived in the near term that will be lost if you wait until you have all the answers. 

What are your suggestions for simplifying RM?

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