Progress at Different Paces

By Timothy Elmore posted 04-23-2010 12:16


When we first started a records management initiative 15 years ago, it was all about scanning account agreements and storing statements & green bar reports from our core processing system. Five years later we had two separate, relatively specialized document management systems, the original still holding the same types of documents, and a second system for reports from a mortgage system.

When we decided it was time to evaluate options for yet another system to store scanned loan files, we seemed to be on the road to creating a network of document imaging systems. We recognized the trend and made a strategic decision to find one system that would meet all of our needs. We were fortunate to find Hyland Software, an innovative, quality-focused, family-owned company in Cleveland that had the right system for the job.

In the past decade we have widened the scope of the system to include storage of mortgage files, tax forms, checks, corporate documents, member correspondence, and, ultimately, anything and everything that is generated by the business and requires retention or periodic access.

Through the years, our organization has been fortunate to have a decentralized records management environment with strong user acceptance. In discussions with colleagues from other organizations, a surprising number report user resistance and other obstacles to full digital storage and distributed retrieval. Common issues seem to be lack of time and resources, not knowing where or how to get started, and absence of a management imperative to transition files and documents into a cohesive records management system. Resistance to change from users seems to go hand-in-hand with lack of progress in instituting an effective records management system.

I feel fortunate that our organization generally embraced the concepts and benefits of electronic storage early and often, and that we have created an environment where the natural place to store anything of importance is the document management system.

Until recently I have made the logic leap that because my organization reached the other side of the records management digital divide some time ago, everybody else must also be well along in their inevitable records management evolution. While attending a technology-focused conference this week, a colleague from a top 30 credit union was tallying the notable successes from a core system conversion just a year ago. One accomplishment was the launch of the organization's first document management system. In that organization, microfilm and microfiche were still actively in use, while I hadn't given a second thought to that generation of records management media in many years. Change is inevitable, but progress comes at different paces.

The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or AIIM.

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