Recently, we took a look at records management in SharePoint in which we cited research from AIIM that showed spending on records management is set for a major increase. That research has now been published and shows that while records management is a major concern for enterprises, the real bad boy in records management is email management.

The first thing that stands out is that recent events like the BP oil spill, the banking crisis and high profile government email leaks have focused executive-level attention on records management.

The second thing that strikes is that one third of organizations have no records management policy at all. Of the two thirds that do, many are struggling to define a policy on emails -- whether they should be kept, destroyed or saved.

Spending On RM Rises

Based on 650 responses to questionnaires sent to business people not involved in records management in August, the findings are published in the report E-Discovery and ERM: How is records management performing in the new spotlight?

There were a lot of positives to be taken from the responses, not least of which is that the priority given to records management over the past two year has increased in 80% of companies, with a corresponding planned increase in spending on records management software in over half those organizations.

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In nearly half the cases, enterprises said that they had implemented records management across organizational units, with 17% saying they had applied across the entire enterprise.

For enterprises that are concerned about the costs involved, leaving aside the potential cost savings by remaining compliant, 31% of respondents say a lack of complete electronic information has been an issue --  17% say that they achieved a return on investment within two years.

Content and Record Retention

However, it is the negatives that are surprising, especially given the escalating costs of e-Discovery, and the growing number of increasingly stringent regulations that enterprises now have to comply with.

In general, retention policies are quite good around office documents, but considerably less so around newer Enterprise 2.0 technologies or social media content. Could it be that, as we found earlier on this year, many companies are having difficulties understanding what records are?

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The evidence would seem to suggest that they are. While 86% of enterprises include office documents amongst their electronic records, transactional records such as invoices or bank statements have only been included by 64% of companies, while only 12% are including Enterprise 2.0 and social media content.

Email Mis-Management

This is particularly telling when looking at policies around email, even at the level of where emails should be stored. For those that do store emails, 18% are storing them on Exchange archives, but 9% are still keeping them on local drives. A further 5% print and file emails, while 16% have absolutely no policy at all.

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Whether enterprises should be keeping emails at all is also a problem for a large number of companies. Apart from the 31% of enterprises that have no policy at all, opinions are almost equally divided as to what to do with them, with 23% keeping everything “just in case” and 26% deleting all.

e-Discovery and Efficiency

On the good news front it seems that many enterprises are beginning to see the value of e-Discovery software and the value of moving from paper to electronic records. For enterprises with no records management system, the average legal e-Discovery request takes 25 days, while with one it takes 12 days.

For those using paper, the corresponding figures are 19 days on average, with 28% taking more than a month. Paper is also considered a good deal less efficient than e-Discovery software, which is reckoned to be three times more efficient than paper.

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Search was also considered key to successful e-Discovery processes with 47% using ad-hoc search across file shares and email systems to find discoverable records. A further 24% use native search in their ECM or RM system, while 7% use enterprise search.

There is a lot more in this report, including an overview of records management in SharePoint 2010, which indicates enterprises are taking to records management principally because of external factors like compliance, or the possibility of e-discovery demands, rather than for better business organization. It’s free and can be downloaded it from the AIIM website.