Just Tell Us What “It” Is

By Susan Cisco posted 10-22-2010 14:10


Most business information is created, received, and managed electronically. One of the keys to successfully managing it all is to broaden the scope of records management to retention management of all information and to apply controls at the beginning of an information lifecycle. This is done by assigning or tagging a new piece of information with metadata attributes at the point of creation or receipt so they can follow the information throughout its lifecycle.

Sounds good, but many (most?) of us have learned the same lesson as Guy Chiarello, CIO of JPMorganChase: “The more you ask users to tag information, the more likely it is you’ll make your data problems significantly bigger.”  (http://tinyurl.com/24el9qd)

We have sophisticated tools that do content searching, semantic analysis, and relevance ranking and technologies that enable control of recorded information in a repository environment. But we’re still waiting on the promise of auto-classification to dramatically simplify the tagging (indexing) process.

With good planning in advance of implementing Enterprise Content and Records Management (ECRM) systems, many metadata attributes can be system-generated (examples are author name, creation date, last modified date, and file format). We still need to know what the record is – invoice, contract, job description, etc. If we know what “it” is, we can assign retention automatically by mapping information types to record series and retention types in order and achieve standardized retention across all information lifecycle states. There are a number of methods to find out what “it” is in an ECRM system:

Templates – Especially for high volume/high risk records and information, create templates that ensure relevant information is captured including required metadata such as information type. When creating a new job description, for example, using the template will capture all the necessary information, and the system will know what “it” is. 

Customized Pick-Lists – Create brief customized pick-lists for information type based on the ECRM user’s role and usual activities in the organization.  Limit the initial choices to the information types most frequently chosen by this user.

Folder Hierarchies – Create customized folder hierarchies based on the ECRM user’s role and normal activities. You can pre-populate a folder hierarchy with metadata attributes. Then ECRM users can drag and drop records into folders that inherit the metadata automatically.  

SharePoint 2010 offers an option for assigning retention periods automatically. Using the Content Organizer, a record can be routed to the appropriate location based on the Content Type and metadata where information management policies can be assigned.  If you’re not familiar with the term Content Type, refer to http://sharepointrecordsmanagement.com/

What techniques are you using to get ECRM users to tell you what “it” is?

#ElectronicRecordsManagement #Records-Management #electronic records management