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What is records management? Simply put, records management exists to ensure that valuable information is properly created, stored, maintained and disposed of so that your organization is in regulatory and legal compliance.

But let’s be real: there’s nothing simple about records management.

Experienced managers spend countless hours sorting and classifying documents and other pieces of content. Their job is complicated, confusing, far from fool-proof, and face it – a lot of times, things get missed.

As the scope of records management extends beyond internal systems to cloud, social and mobile applications, the situation has become even more complex. With content stored in multiple repositories across the business – such as file shares, e-mail, CRM and other systems – managing, searching and accessing critical records is a real challenge.

One of the main challenges is traditional records management systems themselves. Not only are they difficult for end users to operate, most are also expensive to extend to other environments.

At the same time, the demands on records retention, disposal and management have increased over recent years, making it critical for compliance across more and more processes. The challenge is how to keep error levels low, which has led many organizations to automate the process so that metadata is applied in a consistent and uniform way.

Embedding records declaration within a content management system business process – subject to strict governance rules – keeps things simple and compliant.

Automated classification

Automated declaration and classification of records can greatly simplify the RM process and help with consistency and regulatory compliance. A recent study by global independent researcher AIIM discovered that, while there was initial skepticism around the technology’s capabilities, more and more organizations are turning to automated classification.

AIIM showed that while only 14% of organizations are currently using automated declaration/classification, some 65% plan to use the technology in the near future. Of those already using it, only 5% say they are disappointed with its accuracy. The vast majority of users report that it’s the same or better than expected.

Trouble in the Cloud

Cloud technology is only becoming more popular, and as more and more software vendors offer cloud versions of their applications and cloud file-sharing and collaboration environments expand, more content will reside in the cloud in a non-compliant way.

Including content held within cloud repositories and applying governance policies to traditional records management systems can be difficult and expensive. In the same AIIM study, when asked about their concerns about content being stored in the cloud, over 35% responded that it is harder to apply information governance and security rules to content in this environment.

Organizations must include cloud services in their RM policies and procedure – just like any other information repository – while keeping it easy for users to adopt.

Social counts!

Think social media doesn’t count when it comes to compliance? Wrong! Blogs, tweets and other social network posts must be considered in the same way as any other content and should all be included in a company’s records disposal, storage and records retention policy and procedures.

Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.

The AIIM study found that 37% of organizations feel they should treat social content as records, but aren’t – and only 15% say they save some of the content, if not all.

Keeping an organization’s records management process simple enough for users to adopt, while effective enough to ensure compliance consistently across all channels isn’t easy. But there are tools available today that can automate and help simplify some of the process.

Remember: if there are areas within your business that are non-compliant, then the whole business is non-compliant.

Want specific recommendations for making records management easier in your organization? Download the complete AIIM white paper.

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About the author

Kathleen Reidy

Kathleen Reidy

Kathleen Reidy is the Director of Market Strategy at Alfresco.

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