records management questionsEnterprise content management was born of a desire to integrate disparate systems; and these days that desire can extend to the systems that perform records management (RM) and document management (DM). The convergence of RM and DM is being fueled by some very legitimate wants, needs and desires among corporations. Our task as ECM providers is to meet those business needs and offer insight on just how these two important functions can be more closely aligned.

RM and DM perform some functions unique to each and yet also perform other functions common to both. Both RM and DM must be able to retrieve, view, and print documents or records. But, neither system’s approach completely satisfies the need for full lifecycle management of document-based information. The merging of the functionality of the DM with the requirements of the RM provides for the reuse of electronic information while ensuring the integrity and retention of the electronic records.

There are a host of considerations for proper records management that aren’t present for traditional document management. These are the result of the legal statutes and regulations that demand records be handled in a certain way. Additionally, RM systems need to be able to manage email, web pages, and physical records including paper, microfilm, microfiche and artifacts.

Federal statutes and regulations on the handling of records are mirrored in state and local jurisdictions resulting well in excess of 10,000 different rules. These add immensely to the complexity of the task for organizations that are national in scope. These regulations aren’t punishable by fines and adverse court rulings only; some carry the threat of imprisonment.

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that records be secure and unaltered in the event of a dispute or litigation. There are the periodic corporate vital records reviews. Then there are access control considerations that often vary by department and even within departments.

Non-records management enterprise software applications are typically weak in the areas of capturing actively created documents or email messages and any associated metadata that qualify any type of document as a record. Many enterprises lack thoroughly implemented policies and procedures governing websites, emails, engineering drawings, and other valuable electronic records.

The focus of a DM system is to support the processes of creating, editing, and reviewing work-in progress documents. Document management requires a more dynamic philosophy since most documents are in a constant state of flux. Document management systems have to make collaboration and change easy. This is diametrically opposed to the mission of an RM system: to securely preserve the unaltered document record for its complete life cycle.

RM, DM come together in Systemware Content Cloud

Systemware Content Cloud can uniquely identify each individual document’s versions, providing the ability to view, capture, maintain, and retrieve documents for edit by authoring applications. Systemware can manage a variety of document types, including audio, video, hypertext markup language (HTML), Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF), and other file types. It also effectively provides the ability to reuse electronic information.

The Systemware Content Cloud manages electronic and non-electronic records according to accepted principles and practices of records management. The policy, rules, and approved retention schedules developed by the customer based on their business activities and governing statues form the basis for the retention schedule the Records Manager executes.