The release this week of AIIM’s (news, site) 70-page report entitled Recommended Practice: Analysis, Selection, and Implementation of Electronic Document Management Systems is going to answer a lot of questions about a lot of issues in the document management industry.
Principal amongst those questions are what constitutes a good, or bad, system, what kind of features should a good system have, and what features can it do without.
As an update to its 2001 best practice guidelines for the industry, this document does not set itself up as the definitive guide to all that is good (or bad). By way of introduction, it simply says it is for “anyone responsible for or interested in planning and implementing electronic content or document management systems”.
Demand For New Guidelines
In this respect it suggests five groups of people that might be interested including people working in:
- Information Technology
- Records managers
- Content managers
Originally published in 2001, AIIM said it felt the need to revise the guidelines because of the number of organizations and users that downloaded and used -- and are still using -- the original version.
“We noticed increased discussion in the industry about what constitutes a trusted system, so we undertook the process of determining the general parameters of the best practices in the industry,” said Robert M. Blatt, chair of the AIIM Implementation Guidelines Committee.
Incorporating many new updates in the area of procedures and improved practices, the report notes that the base technologies have not radically changed in the past eight years, just the way and manner of their implementation and use.
Best Practice Help Save Money
Divided into three general subject areas the guidelines provide:
- Technologies: In-depth information about each of the technologies used in the management of any digital or electronic document that are referred to as electronically stored information.
- Current Standards: Detailed information associated with current standards and technical reports.
- Best Practices: Detailed analysis of best practices associated with the implementation, selection and use of an EDMS.
Companies that have followed these best practices have over the past ten years effectively managed to eliminate unnecessary technologies and user licenses, while at the same time reporting greater project success than companies that didn’t use them.
Just imagine the cost savings that goes with this.
The scope of the guidelines covers all technologies related to document imaging, document/library services, routing/BPM/workflow, records management applications, forms management and enterprise report management.
In this respect the guidelines add: “It should be noted and acknowledged that a complete records management program is critical to any organization . . . regardless of whether it is referred to as a "document", "record", "audio", "video", by the organization."
Prepared by a panel of industry experts, the guidelines outline what AIIM believes to be best practices even though there are many proprietary approaches used by individual companies that work as well.
Vendor neutral, it enables users and organizations to quickly identify and locate required information for all aspects of an EDMS (Electronic Document Management System) project.
For each stage of implementing and using an EDMS, it also outlines best practices that should be followed referencing national and international standards that are currently available.
Good System Criteria
In concludes in this respect that there are four principal functions a system must be able to carry out to be trusted.
- Creation of duplicate copies the document, one of which is located in a secure external location
- Security protocols that prevent unauthorized document alteration
- System verification using audit logs
- Best business practices and polices incorporated into the system
And while many systems at the moment already meet one or more of those elements, it is more often the case than not that all four are not being met.
“Through the AIIM Implementation Guidelines Committee we found that many systems already meet several of the elements, but they may be lacking policies and procedures or they may not be storing the information offsite, and that makes the entire system vulnerable," said Arthur Hedge, CastleVentures.
For companies that frequently deal with eDiscovery requests these guidelines should come as a welcome tool.
They provide essential first steps in meeting the rigorous tests demanded by both courts and federal regulators and with the rocketing costs of eDiscovery processes, they will go a long way to making sure companies ‘do it right’ the first.
Free of charge, follow this link to download the guidelines.