Responding to the Presidential Directive: How to Get the Most From ECM and RIM

Topics: Federal Records and Information Management | Govern Information

IT directors and records managers in government agencies generally agree: An enterprise content management system combined with a solid records and information management policy can help them meet impending deadlines and comply with President Obama's Directive on Records Management.

Agencies taking part in the federal government's records system transformation can get much-needed support from some recently developed content management tools.

Enterprise content management (ECM) systems can help agencies effectively manage their records and more easily adopt accepted records and information management (RIM) best practices.

Many agencies either already have an ECM system in place or are planning to deploy one to reap the many benefits it offers. A recent ECM study from the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) reveals that:

  • 38 percent of those surveyed say compliance and risk have driven their interest in ECM systems.
  • Another 38 percent say reduced costs and improved productivity are the main reasons organizations deploy ECM. The ability to streamline to a single, automated ECM system is especially important, because there's less of a chance that information will be duplicated and out of sync.
  • 39 percent expressed interest in ECMs because of their redundant, workflow-based, document-centric processes.

ECM Delivers the Goods

By successfully deploying an ECM system, agencies also stand to gain the following records management benefits:

  • Greater visibility. ECM systems offer a way to centralize records inventory, whether they're in paper or electronic format, stored onsite within the content management system or at a third-party vendor's secure facility.
  • Better reliability. By automating the process, ECM systems let you unify records policies and eliminate inconsistencies across all records and all parts of your organization.
  • Improved control. Agencies can present a standardized, enforceable, automated, auditable records destruction schedule for business, compliance or litigation purposes.
  • Enhanced social media optimization. Many of the latest ECM systems are also set up to support all kinds of unstructured data from social media, blogs, wikis and other new record types.

Beyond Technology

Of course, technology alone is never the answer. That's why CIOs and top records managers should collaborate to develop a unified plan. Follow these steps.

Step 1: Develop a single records and information management policy that governs all information types and formats. Apply it consistently across the agency.

Step 2: Create a timeline for implementation of your RIM policy objectives, including enforceable deadlines, and stick to it.

Step 3: Inventory,assess and organize physical and electronic records. Retain the most important files first.

Step 4: Build document retention and destruction schedules according to NARA guidance and agency needs. If you follow operational and regulatory guidelines, you'll create a compliant strategy and know what information you need to keep.

Step 5: Ensure access by indexing. Classify each bit of information making its way into a record by type, author, date created, storage location and other descriptors. With a comprehensive index, you can locate information quickly.

Step 6: Develop a solid digital storage strategy. Your agency's storage capabilities may not be enough for either the paper deluge or the growing volume of electronic content. Let record type and level of usage dictate how you store records. Routinely move records, particularly paper-based ones, offsite to free up onsite space for other purposes.

Accelerate RIM Improvements with ECM

Moving forward, AIIM recommends a quick audit to determine where poor access to information is hurting your organization. Use this to reenergize your ECM project.

While only 18 percent of organizations surveyed by AIIM have fully completed an ECM implementation, it is in an agency's best interest to use ECM systems to manage both paper and electronic records. ECM systems include some records management features that can handle both types of records. In concert with records management software, the ECM system rises from a document management/collaboration platform to a next-generation, enterprise-worthy unified records management solution. Users can search for documents and request delivery of records stored offsite from within the ECM. And add-on software applies the same retention policies to both electronic and physical records.

ECM: One for All

The more content you can converge into a single, searchable, all-device-accessible ECM system, the fewer other places you'll need to go to solve the problem. You might also want to evaluate how you might enhance the agency's ECM functionality.

Capture and process records management workflow, collaboration, digital signatures, extended search, internal social and output management might all find a natural home within ECM, making it a useful tool for agencies to more quickly meet the presidential directive on records management.

AIIM for a Plan

As AIIM pointed out in a recent study, integrating records management into ECM systems calls for careful planning. The organization recently detailed the following aspects of getting agencies organized with these tools.

  • Discovery: Analysis and understanding of the agency's existing ECM system (if one is in place), the types of documents contained within them and how these documents are used in current applications.
  • Extraction: Identification and selection of the most appropriate and efficient methods to extract content and the associated metadata from the ECM system.
  • Transformation: Repurposing and manipulation of legacy content to add additional value and meet current business requirements.
  • Auditing: Auditing and reporting throughout the process, ensuring accountability, tracking and content chain of custody. Also includes confirming that the correct documents are moved and relevant reports are available for future audits.
  • Indexing: Creation of any additional indexes for metadata enrichment, searchability or performance enhancement.
  • Loading: Insertion or loading of documents, metadata and resources into the ECM system, maintaining compliance and accessibility.

Do you have questions about records and information management? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain's Information Management team. You'll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your specific challenges.