White Paper Summary

Does Records Management Matter?...Yes, and Seven Things Record Managers Can Do To Make It More Relevant

The last few years have seen an explosion of activities related to the management of records – legal discovery, intellectual property issues, privacy concerns, and knowledge management have all become extremely important to today’s organizations. Surprisingly, records managers, who would normally be best-prepared to deal with these issues, have often not been included when the topics arise. This is especially true for electronic records – a recent survey conducted for ARMA showed that 40% of organizations do not include electronic records in their retention schedules[i], even though UC Berkeley says that 93% of all information today is created in electronic format, and 70% is never printed out[ii].

The shift in focus from paper to digital has made records more accessible than ever before, and this affects organizations in ways that they might not notice or realize until it is too late. Litigators are increasingly interested in casting wide nets for electronic documents during legal discovery, with electronic searches exposing more inside information than the old manual processes. So-called data leaks, where private records are shared, have spurred regulators to create reporting requirements and stiff penalties for business and government custodians. At the same time, businesses are becoming interested in “mining” their own records to improve service, efficiency, and accountability of operations. Each of these three elements – litigation, compliance and business – creates a new need for management of information in the electronic world.

As the volume of corporate records shifts from paper into the digital realm, some have questioned the value of traditional records management approaches. Many traditional records management groups report feeling pushed out, driving fewer projects of their own and too often overlooked or excluded by those who think they are irrelevant in an electronic world. One may ask: Does records management matter? In this era dominated by electronic information is the records manager relevant? We believe the answer is yes. Records management does matter, perhaps now more than ever. The nature of electronic records has transformed records management into an indispensable element of modern organizations. Furthermore, the challenges present by electronic information should be seen as an opportunity. Records managers have a unique opportunity to expand their scope and prestige beyond what it has ever been.

So how can records management become more relevant? What can a records manager do when they find that a forest of electronic records has sprung up around their traditional paper domain? Simply, they must transform their function, expanding the definition and scope of their remit to the organization and pushing for better management of information stored in electronic formats. This Whitepaper outlines seven steps records management can do to meet the challenges of electronic information – and help others realize the relevance of their function.



2008-06-01
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