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Federal agencies wanting to accelerate their path to digitization and meet the M-23-07 mandate need to have a plan and roadmap for success.
Digitizing government records and complying with M-23-07 (formerly M-19-21) is a complex undertaking - similar to tackling a major home renovation on a tight deadline. In both cases, numerous factors will influence how long a project will take and how much it will cost.
It's important to cut through the complexity and focus on the most important keys to success:
A successful transition to digitized records will streamline work processes, improve capacity for effective remote work, enhance user experiences for citizens, extract value buried in data, and support government initiatives in pursuit of digitization, accessibility, and IT modernization.
A faulty transition can result in scanned documents of poor quality that must be rescanned at an additional expense. Failure to "scrape" metadata during digitization results in digital documents that can't be searched or properly categorized. If you don't do it thoughtfully, you'll spend a lot of money and additional resources rescanning.
If you haven't made much headway or aren't sure how to begin, these steps will help you get moving.
Most agencies don't have a comprehensive inventory of records in their possession. If you don't know what's in your repository, it's time to get organized. Find out what's in those boxes. If records of different types are commingled (e.g., permanent and temporary records), you'll need to sort them. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) won't accept commingled records, but they will accept permanent paper records (and they'll digitize them at no cost to agencies).
An initial assessment will help you identify records that aren't ready for disposition but can't remain at their current location. These assets must be moved to a secure storage facility in accordance with regulations to ensure a secure chain of custody during transport. An experienced partner with knowledge of records management in the public sector will provide critical support to jumpstart a records-disposition program.
Phase one goal: Find a qualified partner and get early wins! An experienced partner will set in motion the process of records disposition: inventory records, sort records, and move records to appropriate destinations.
After starting the process of records disposition, you'll need to turn your attention to long-term goals. In this phase, it's important to develop a roadmap to keep your records management program on track.
To begin, create a digitalization and data accessibility plan for transforming paper records into digital formats. The plan should leverage technology, including machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities to comply with regulations as well as generate more meaningful information from the process.
Workflow automation will figure prominently into the plan. A benefit of information technology is that it can perform mundane tasks traditionally done by human workers. Effective IT tools liberate your staff to focus on complex problem-solving. By automating certain processes, you can easily monitor and track large numbers of records and create rules that flag your team when retention periods expire and documents become eligible for destruction. Long-term records management plans should consider optimal ways of creating new digital documents.
Phase two goal: Lay out a roadmap to digitalization success. Build on process wins from phase one by implementing workflow automations.
Giving up paper records and fully entering the digital era is a challenging transition, so it helps to have an experienced partner. This is not a do-it-yourself project. We have professional services to assist with organizing and assessing documents; developing and implementing digital-records programs; and managing and auditing those processes.
Phase three goal: Identify a record management partner and leverage their expertise and best practices that will accelerate digitization goals.
When records are an issue, Iron Mountain is like a clean start. We have a process to solve your challenges and accelerate your M-23-07 compliance.
We can help. Let's talk.