The particular Role of the Records Manager within Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Systems

ECM, or Enterprise Content Management, provides traditionally been a project led with the Information Technology (IT) department. ECM refers to the technologies and tools utilized to capture, manage, store, preserve, plus deliver structured and unstructured content. ECM focuses on ways to improve functional efficiencies, improve workflows, enable digital searching, and significantly reduce the quantity of paper used. Sounds like IT buzzwords to me.

ECM focuses on three challenges:

Enhance workforce effectiveness through cooperation, communication, and information sharing.
Change business process through the integration of content and the automation of related processes
Optimize the infrastructure for content and compliance through the capture, the archiving, the retention, the particular discovery, and the retrieval processes.
IT loves ECM as it speaks to technologies, storage, archiving, organizational procedures, and unstructured information. To IT, ECM represents the state-of-the-art technology intended for managing data in a highly effective manner. So it would seem that it’s a no-brainer that IT should be leading ECM projects, or is it? And it would certainly also seem that IT has a fantastic justification for ECM systems, right? Actually, the answer is “No. ” IT generally cannot justify ECM programs on their own. And this is where the records manager can save the day by becoming the business sponsor of the ECM project. Just two cases prove this point. In recent litigation, 2 large companies suffered losses associated with $29 million and $600+ million due to inadequate email management techniques; put more bluntly, they failed to have a records management sponsored ECM program in place.

IT Missed the Point

ECM is more than achieving hardware and software efficiencies. The underlying concentrate of ECM is not on IT efficiencies but on compliance, risk, and ediscovery challenges. Now here’s the rub: While IT may have achieved some data reduction efficiencies with e-mail and document management redundancies, these people haven’t touched the critical element of compliance, risk, and ediscovery difficulties.

Enter the Amended Federal Rule associated with Civil Procedure (FRCP).

On Dec 1, 2006, the Federal Guideline of Civil Procedure was amended to include ESI, or electronically stored information. The new rules address the particular extraordinary increase in information conveyed and stored in electronic format. These amendments related to “electronically stored information” (i. e., information stored on computer systems or other electronic media) during the discovery phase of litigation. Prior to these amendments, whether electronically saved information should be searched or created during discovery was a point associated with confusion and disagreement. The amended rules have resolved this issue.

IMPORTANT Component of the Amended Rules regarding Records Managers

This Federal Principle of Civil Procedure affects most companies, big, small, public, private, or not-for-profit and more importantly, the amendments essentially require records supervisors to prove to the courts that they have a records management program (including an up-to-date records retention schedule) which is consistently applied to physical and digital records. Wow, all of a sudden, there turns into a real need for records managers. The particular proof of this last statement can be found at job boards like CareerBuilder and Monster that now advertise pages upon pages for records management individuals whereas several years ago, it would be easiest lucky to find one position classified by any month.

The Records Manager can Save the Day

The key component of any ECM implementation is how it relates to compliance, risk, and ediscovery. The fact that IT can reduce data redundancies and streamline document storage plus backup is secondary.

The key towards the success of any ECM system hinges on the implementation of information retention rules on the content managed by ECM (e. g., electronic mails, documents, work flows, web content, quick messaging, databases, or flash hard disks, to name a few). With ECM implemented, the Records Manager can have the best opportunity possible to confirm that they are consistently applying their records retention schedule to electronically kept information.

Records Managers can Guarantee Success for Electronically Stored Details and Assure Success for present and future Filed and expected Litigation

All electronically stored information must be matched against the company’s records retention schedule to determine if the information is a record and for how long the information ought to be retained. ECM is the perfect alternative for accomplishing this records administration requirement as large ECM vendors (e. g., IBM, EMC, or Interwoven) can offer solutions that deal with email messages, document management, business procedure workflows, and web content to name a couple of. More importantly, these vendors have ediscovery modules to implement legal keeps (mechanism to prevent records from getting modified or destroyed) across just about all electronically stored information and even physical records, at the same time. As to the vendors that provide these solutions, you have to do your research. but be aware that there are companies around that only offer pieces of this solution such as for email just or web content only.

Why the particular Records Managers should lead ECM Efforts

The current trend is for Information Managers to lead ECM efforts with IT being a partner in the work. The mistake is to think that IT can guide the effort with the Records Managers as the secondary partner. Records Managers must have the final say (even administrative rights to the ECM system) to assure that this records retention rules are correctly and accurately applied and to ensure that the legal holds system is administered only by Records Managers plus Litigation Attorneys. More importantly, the Information Managers can serve as the business sponsor and provide the funding for the project in situations where IT would have difficulty justifying the ECM system without the influence of the Records Management program.
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Summary

In summary, the ediscovery rules make it clear that electronically saved information, the information on your business’s computer systems, is discoverable. Therefore , it’s period for your business to become tech-savvy and get prepared because unless your business will be immune to litigation, the ediscovery rules will impact it. As well as the consequences are severe when records are destroyed prematurely because the information retention schedule rules were disregarded or nonexistent as they apply to electronically stored information.

My advice to Records Managers is to study different ECM offerings from vendors plus attend seminars and conferences provided by ARMA and by AIIM to understand the significance of ECM and why you should be top the effort and not IT.

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