The Ten Biggest Issues in Records Management Today

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The Ten Biggest Issues in Records Management Today Powered By Docstoc
					 The Ten Biggest Issues
in Records Management
             Presented by:
    David O. Stephens, CRM, FAI
    To: The Western New York Chapter
            ARMA International
           September 22, 2009
 What are the biggest issues in RM
• What issues have the greatest
  impact on Records
  Management today?
• That is, they are redefining,
  even revolutionizing both the
  theory and practice of records
  management, and will continue
  to do so for years to come.
• While every such list is
  inherently arbitrary /
  judgmental, here is mine . . .
      We’ll discuss my “top ten” RM
                issues . . .
1.    The growing role of RM as a significant issue in organizational
2.    RM’s role in the transition to the management of electronic records in the
      (nearly) paperless office
3.    RM’s role in the new environment for regulatory compliance and litigation
      risk reduction
4.    RM’s role in enhancing enterprise accessibility of information content
5.    The impact of September 11th and RM’s role in enhancing information
6.    Getting to (nearly) perfect in records retention
7.    The role of electronic records retention in improved data life cycle
8.    Bringing records management / retention to the desktop, messaging and
      backup environments
9.    The significance of the new software solutions for electronic records
10.   The role of RM in digital preservation
  Records management: Not new,
    but never more important!
“Let your Eminence give
  orders throughout each
  and every province that a
  building be erected in
  which to store the records
  . . . so that they may
  remain uncorrupted and
  may be found quickly by
  those requiring them . . .”

  The Emperor Justinian
  Roman Empire, 6th century A.D.
 Issue 1 - The growing role of RM as a significant
       issue in organizational management

• With the recent spate of
  business scandals, now – for
  the first time ever – records
  have become pivotal in
  determining the fate of
• In the case of Arthur Andersen
  LLP vs. the United States, for
  the first time ever, a hitherto
  great corporation was virtually
  destroyed by acts related
  directly to records disposal, in
  which retention practices were
  a major issue.
   Electronic records: The management
challenges are much greater than for paper!
• Higher strategic value
• Higher customer / client
• Greater technical expertise
• Much higher rates of growth
• Greater accessibility
• Greater consequences of loss
• Much shorter life expectancy
  and greater preservation
• All of these make RM more
  important than ever before!
  Issue 2 – RM’s transition to the management of
 electronic records in the (nearly) paperless office

• Many records managers
  still cling tenaciously –
  and irrationally – to the
  notion that paper will be
  with us forever; that the
  long-awaited but hitherto
  unrealized “paperless
  office” is and will remain a
• I will give you my
  opinions and invite
 The (nearly) all-digital office: Not if
            but when!!!
• Just because it hasn’t
  happened during the last 30
  years doesn’t mean it won’t
  happen during the next 30!
• During the last 30 years,
  electronic records have
  become much more prevalent
  and prolific, relative to their
  paper counterparts.
• And their importance has
  skyrocketed while that of paper
  records has gradually
    But . . . as Bob Dylan said, the
      times they are a changin’
• The decisive factor in the
  transition to the less-
  paper office is . . .
• . . . Different behavior
  patterns on the part of the
  next generation of office
• Our children and
  grandchildren do not and
  will not use filing
  cabinets when they take
  our places in the offices
  of today and tomorrow!!!
   Issue 3: RM’s role in corporate governance,
regulatory compliance, and litigation risk reduction

• Since the passage of the
  Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002
  (and the new regulatory and
  other legal initiatives that
  resulted) regulatory
  compliance, e-discovery and
  litigation risk reduction have
  been the key drivers for new
  records management
  initiatives in the U.S.
• SOX changes executive
  perceptions about records
  management, as nothing had
  ever done before!
       RM’s role in demonstrating
• RM’s goal should be to
  ensure that the
  recordkeeping systems
  are being managed such
  that the integrity of their
  information content can
  meet the tests of
  authenticity, integrity and
• In short – full compliance,
  in letter, spirit and good
  RM’s role in mitigating litigation risks

• The presence or
  absence of records
  can be either
  favorable or
  unfavorable . . .
• . . . exculpatory or
  RM’s role in mitigating litigation risks

• The best strategy:
• Retain only what’s
  needed to operate the
  company, comply with
  the law, and meet
  reasonable needs to
  retain history!
  Issue 4: RM’s role in enhancing enterprise
      accessibility of information content
• Information accessibility: It’s
  the foundation for world-class
  records management!
• Wherever records
  management is practiced at an
  advanced level, the existence
  and location of all information
  content must be known, and
  precise and timely retrieval
  must be the rule rather than
  the exception, so that the
  organization’s recordkeeping
  systems effectively support its
  larger business objectives.
• Information accessibility is a
  strategic business issue and
  needs to be managed as such.
     The dreams and aspirations of Miss Lemon
        (shared by every records manager!)

• “Her real passion in life
  was the perfection of a
  filing system beside
  which all other filing
  systems should sink into
  oblivion. She dreamed of
  such a system at night.”

• Source: Agatha Christie, “How
  Does Your Garden Grow,”
 The value of information is directly
  proportionate to its accessibility
• An organization may
  possess a single
  kernel of information
  upon which its entire
  future rests, but if
  those who seek it
  cannot find it, the
  golden nugget is
  In response to any (properly formulated)
search query, one of five things can happen
1.    The system delivers all the documents / information
      requested and no others.
2. The system delivers all the documents desired, as well
      as others deemed not relevant.
3. The system delivers some of the requested
      documents, but not all.
4. The system delivers some documents, none, however,
      are deemed relevant.
5. The system delivers no documents at all and some are
      known to exist that are relevant to the query.
It is the task of RM to ensure that No. 1 occurs –
      consistently across the enterprise!
 Issue 5 – The impact of Sept. 11th and
   RM’s role in information protection
• There is a persuasive,
  even compelling,
  argument that protecting
  organizational information
  from loss due to disaster
  – whether due to natural,
  technical or human
  causes – is the most
  important aspect of
  records management.
  Greater risks / consequences of loss

• Most organizations
  could lose all their
  paper records and
• No so for computer
• A large-scale data
  loss would likely be
  cataclysmic and
For all vital, mission-critical records, off-
        site back is the way to go!
• Organizations should adopt the long-term goal of
  converting to digital format every paper-based
  recordkeeping system of mission-critical importance – as
  soon as resources and priorities allow.
• Records managers should survey all such applications,
  and develop a plan for conversion from paper to digital
  format that can be implemented over a period of several
• This will permit the records to be backed up off-site.
• For all mission-critical recordkeeping systems, we
  recommend that organizations give themselves 5 years
  to get out of paper.
Issue 6 – Getting to (nearly) perfect
        in records retention
• Sadly, most records
  retention programs are
  not organized around
• Most have no long-term
  management plan or
  strategy for achieving
• So, just like every “self-
  fulfilling prophesy,
  success in retention
  remains elusive!
  Best practice in enterprise RM requires the systematic
application of rules, tools and implementation strategies in
             five recordkeeping environments
• 1. Active paper records at
  departmental workstations
• 2. Inactive paper records in
  storage facilities
• 3. Personal working papers
  kept in desks, credenzas and
• 4. Data in computer
  applications managed by IT
• 5. Electronic records in
  desktops, controlled by their
   Getting to perfect in retention
• Organizations should
  establish a 5-year goal of
  applying retention rules in
  all 5 recordkeeping
• Poorly managed
  warehouse storage and
  IT-managed system
  applications will require at
  least 3 years.
 A top RM goal: No more unmanaged /
 under-managed storage repositories!
• Regardless of whether they
  used for the storage of paper
  or electronic records, every
  storage repository must be
  managed such that the content
  is fully accessible, readily
  retrievable, and safe and
• Moreover, the life cycle of the
  content in all repositories must
  be properly managed under
  approved retention rules and
Issue 7 – The role of electronic records retention in
       improved data life cycle management

• What happens to computer
  data as it ages?
• Does the value of data
  increase or decrease as time
• Do storage management
  requirements change as data
  ages through its life cycle?
• In the world of paper, these are
  questions that records
  managers have addressed for
• But not in the world of IT,
  where retention has not been
  widely practiced.
  If getting rid of dead data is such a good
idea, why hasn’t it been widely practiced???
1. A largely invisible
   problem – no physical /
   visible manifestations.
2. In some situations, it’s
   cheaper to retain than
3. For decades, IT had
   “carte blanche” to buy
   all the storage they
   wanted – no questions
4. No strong advocate
   among key stakeholder
   None of the key stakeholders in business computing
      strongly advocated ERR, so it didn’t happen!

• IT departments – Data
  retention not a priority; no
  methodology or expertise.
• Vendors – Driven by
  customer priorities. Data
  retention not historically
  an issue. But this is
• Data owners – Usually
  content to take whatever
  data they can get.
 The explosive – and unprecedented –
        growth in data storage
• The total cost of
  managed storage now
  rivals or exceeds the
  investment in systems
  and servers, and often
  accounts for 50% or more
  of total IT spending.
• Data storage costs will
  rise to three-quarters of
  all IT spending over the
  next few years.

• Source: Storage Inc.
    Issue 8 – Bringing RM / retention to the
            messaging environment
• In most organizations, the
  desktop is an records
  management “basket case” –
  generally under-managed or
• But this is where most of the
  work of organizations is done!
• Approx. 56% of all digital
  content resides here.
• To bring better records
  management to the desktop is
  one of the biggest records
  management challenges
   The messaging environment should be
 restricted to current communications only!
• Many e-mail users retain
  hundreds, even
  thousands, of e-mails, in
  their messaging
  environment. This is not
  best but worst practice!
• A top records
  management priority is to
  ensure that the
  messaging system is not
  morphed from an e-post
  office into an unmanaged
 Consider the analogy of the postal
   mail you receive at home . . .
• When you go home tonight,
  you’ll get your mail out of your
• There will be bills, magazines,
  and “junk mail.”
• You’ll discard the junk mail, put
  the magazines on the coffee
  table or night stand, and put
  the bills in the pending file for
• But you won’t put any mail
  back in the mailbox!
• Well, that’s exactly what’s
  happening in the digital
        The only practical retention
        methodology for e-mail . . .
• Asking users to classify 30 to
  60 or more e-mails per day in
  accordance with a taxonomy
  and save them to an ERMS or
  ECM solution is not practical –
  ain’t gonna happen!!!
• Therefore, a simpler strategy,
  one which minimizes user
  involvement and decision-
  making, is required.
• The only practical, realistic
    – A uniform maximum
      retention period,
      accompanied by aggressive
      daily management by users!
  The uniform maximum retention
  strategy: Here’s how it works . . .
• . . . A uniform maximum retention period, of pre-
  determined length, is established by policy.
• It is effectuated by automatically transferring, without
  user involvement or decision-making, all e-mail
  remaining in employees’ mailboxes when the messages
  have aged 90 days to a dedicated e-mail archival
  repository, where they will remain for the duration of the
  approved uniform maximum retention period.
• When the messages have aged to the duration of the
  uniform maximum retention period, they will be purged,
  again without user intervention or decision-making.
• To operationalize this strategy, you’ll need an e-mail
  archiving tool (software solution).
   The uniform maximum retention
    period: Options for its duration
• Not less than 3 years, nor
  longer than 7 years!
• The average retention of all
  records kept by American
  business falls within this range!
• Because of system
  obsolescence, 10 years is the
  longest practical retention
  period, but it’s usually much
  longer than needed.
• Three years should be
  sufficient to meet the test of
  reasonableness and good
• If you want to be more
  conservative, go to 5, 6 or 7
The uniform maximum retention period must
  be accompanied by two major caveats
•   (1) E-mail of transitory value must
    be deleted on a daily basis.
•   This requires 10 to 15 minutes per
•   (2) E-mail of long-term value (for
    which the retention exceeds the
    uniform maximum period) must be
    saved in a separate repository that
    can satisfy its retention period:
     – Printed and filed in paper format.
     – Saved to another software
       application (ERMS, ECM, or other
•   Do these things, and your e-mail
    retention problems will be over!
   Issue 9 – The significance of the
    new software solutions for ERM
• Today, for the first time ever,
  the goal of total life cycle
  management, through a
  retention methodology
  supported by computer
  software, is within reach!
• This is the “holy grail” of RM!
• At present, a total of 52
  software solutions have been
  certified under DoD 5015.2!
• More good news: Retention
  functionality is increasingly
  being built into native software
    For the first time, large computer
  companies get into the RM business
• For decades, records management was perceived as tangential to
  the larger enterprise information management agenda because
  large computer companies weren’t in the records management
• But, in the last five years, things have changed:
   – In 2002 – IBM acquired Tarian Software and announced plans to
     integrate records management capabilities across its entire software
   – In 2006, IBM enhanced its position in the market by its acquisition of
   – In 2003 – EMC acquired Documentum and launched an “Information
     Lifecycle Management” business.
   – In 2006, Oracle acquired Stellent.
• These and other developments have the potential to elevate records
  management to another level of legitimacy as an information
  management initiative of enterprise strategic significance.
Software solutions for content retention

• Retention functionality in
  native applications
• ERMS software
• Integrated EDMS / ERMS
• Fixed-content archiving
• Database archiving
• E-mail archiving solutions
Issue 10 – The role of RM in digital
• “Our IT department tells
  me they can support data
  retention requirements up
  to 5 years with certainty.
  From 5 to 10 years, with
  a little bit of luck. After 10
  years, there are no
• Source: Edie Allen, Records
  Manager (retired) Battelle
  Memorial Labs
      Why digital preservation?
• If an organization creates
  a record in electronic
  format in, say, the year
  2006, and this record will
  need to be digitally
  processed and read
  many years later, how,
  exactly, can this
  requirement be supported
  in a technology
  environment in which the
  only constant is rapid
  Digital preservation: Eight best /
      recommended practices
• 1. Records selection
• 2. Storage media
• 3. Data migration
• 4. Standardize file
• 5. Media recopying
• 6. Metadata management
• 7. Systems
• 8. Media storage and

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