Change is good and the New Year brings a new focus for this blog. As many of you know, I am a Certified Records Manager and I’ve spent the better part of my career promoting effective electronic records management practices. None of that has changed. I firmly believe that the role of a Records Manager is far more important today than it ever was and I will continue to fully support and promote what has traditionally been called ‘electronic records management’ until the last person stops listening to me.
That said, I’ve reached a point where I don’t believe I can continue to speak in terms of records management as a separate notion from managing the lifecycle of all unstructured content. As I’ve said in a number of interviews, I never fully bought into the idea that content can be divided into ‘records’ and ‘documents’. This is a misleading concept that evolved almost by accident in the mid-90′s when document management applications (e.g. Documentum, OpenText, etc.) were developed separately from records management applications (e.g. TrueArc, Meridio, Tower TRIM, etc.), leading to the idea that is was perfectly acceptable to manage one but not the other.
The fundamental flaw with this notion is that you can call one piece of content a ‘document’ and another piece of content a ‘record’, but none of that matters because in the eyes of the law it is all evidence. Which, of course, means it is all discoverable and its unnecessary retention – or its premature disposition – can put an organization at tremendous risk.
So what does this mean to professional Records Managers? It means our responsibilities have become much more far reaching than they have ever been before. It means, quite simply, that we must take ownership of the entire lifecycle of our organization’s content. We can no longer be content to sit back and let content come to us so we can manage it through its final end state. Instead, we must be proactively involved in every phase of the information’s lifecycle. From cradle to grave.
This also means we should no longer speak in terms of ‘records management solutions’. This term is simply no longer relevant. We must now focus on information management solutions that address every phase of the information lifecycle. And this must be done across the entire enterprise. This is what I refer to as the Integrated Information Lifecycle Management (IILM) model and it includes all of the traditional records management functions, but also incorporates many features long considered outside standard records management responsibilities. These include, but certainly aren’t limited to, the following:
- eDiscovery and information preservation orders
- Solution governance
- Retention and disposition of transitory content
- Email archiving policies
- Shared drive management and cleanup
- Enterprise taxonomy and metadata design
- Software obsolescence
- Hardware obsolescence
- Long term storage
- Physical records management
- Backup and recovery
- Continuity of Operations, vital records and disaster recovery
- Legacy solution integrations
- Document template creation
- Structured data lifecycle management
- Information Rights Management
- Privacy and security
- Social media best practices
- Web content management
- Many, many more…
So you’re probably thinking, ‘Sure, Don, that’s great and all, but isn’t this a SharePoint records and information management blog?’ To which I reply, ‘Yes. Yes, it is. Thank you for keeping me focused.’
I have a great deal of experienced with a number of the major enterprise content and records management solutions and I can honestly say that, with a few exceptions, they are terrific applications. I also believe that most of them could be leveraged to implement the IILM model with varying levels of effort. But I honestly believe that no other existing platform is in a better position to manage enterprise content from its creation, through its retention and to its final disposition than SharePoint. And going forward into the New Year it will be my goal to demonstrate to you why I believe this is true.