6 Actions For Your Records Management Strategy
The latest report from Forrester Research (news, site) would seem to suggest that companies are slowly coming around to the fact that it's bad business to put investment in records management on the back burner.

While there is a recognition that records management is a core business process in any company, only 20 per cent of companies would be “very confident” that they could meet eDiscovery or compliance requests if they were asked to do so in the morning.

However, the good news is that by the end of 2010 more than half of those surveyed in the 14-page report, entitled Records Management: User Expectations, Market Trends, And Obstacles written by Brian W.Hill of Forrester with Matthew Brown, Peter Schmidt, say they will be expanding their technology deployments in this regard.

Records Management Problems

The only thing that is really surprising here is that it has taken so long for the penny to drop. Even over the course of this summer alone there are have been a number of reports on the problems many companies have with records management.

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There is also a number of high-profile cases that testify to how costly this can be. In a recent article, Betsy Atkins, who most recently served as CEO and Chairman of Clear Standards, cited two major pay-outs in 2008 alone.

These included the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ( FRCP) data discovery demands in litigation, which cost UBS Warburg US$ 29 million, and Merck a whopping US$ 253 million.

But even playing by the new data governance rules can cost a company if the information is badly retained and organized, she said.

You could also take a look at the AIIM survey for the EMC Corporation earlier this summer which shows that while most organizations have already invested in capture technologies, two-thirds were only scanning 50% of possible documents.

Compliance Action

You get the picture. And this report backs all this up -- but also finds that many companies are now ready to do something about it.

The Forrester Research and ARMA International records management online survey was conducted across 434 technology and strategy decision-makers with responsibility for records management, during June and July 2009. Approximately 95% of respondents were located in North America.


Many of those surveyed cited a changing and complex market as their principal concern with low satisfaction with current solutions in more than half of those surveyed, (13% of whom said they were “not at all” satisfied in this respect).

There are other findings worth noting here:

  • More than half (56%) said they would be investing in new licenses, or try out new products in the coming year 5%.
  • While only 26% said they were confident they could meet privacy requirements, 45% said they were somewhat confident.
  • Although most companies indicated that they were aware of the need to integrate record management across a wider range of records in their company, only 36% of organizations consulted record managers in planning IT deployments.
  • One third of companies did not use technologies for the retention of email.

Six Necessary Actions

Is it any wonder that companies are beginning to get jumpy? Is there anything to be done? Well the Forrester report has a number of recommendations that companies should take on board.

  1. Team Development: Develop a cross-functional team across your enterprise made up of people from different departments who will ensure that a retention management strategy is initiated across the entire enterprise.
  2. Expand Content Criteria: Expand the content type that falls under your content retention policy. It is critical, the report says, to incorporate electronically stored information (ESI) under a company’s records management strategy.
  3. Develop Retention Procedures: Develop an integrated data ‘hold’ policy across the entire enterprise.
  4. Use Technology: Companies need to use technologies to automate eDiscovery and records management. Instead of simply throwing more bodies at this challenge, the report says, companies must work smarter, leveraging technology to automate retention classification and selected eDiscovery steps.
  5. Choose Your Vendor Carefully: While companies may be happy with the platform they are currently using, they need to ask themselves whether it is capable of making them compliant with federal rules on compliance.
  6. Repository Development: So you’ve managed to include all your content, electronic and otherwise into your records management strategy, but where are you going to keep those records. The report points out that for many companies a single repository is not really an option and that they should be looking at developing a cross-repository strategy along with their records management strategy.

When you sit back and look at it, it all looks really obvious. However with tight budgets and over-stretched IT departments many companies are neglecting to implement these policies and leaving themselves open to compliance madness.

The old adage about the only sure things in life that are certain are death and taxes springs to mind here; except with compliance and ediscovery issues you might also tack onto the end of that adage federal regulators.