Confirming the recent Forrester Report that showed a widespread lack of management of electronic records, AIIM (news, site) has just published a similar report that shows 26% of organizations admitting that they have no electronic records management policy.

The report also shows that nearly half of companies surveyed (44%) have no procedures for freezing electronic records in the event of litigation or compliance issues.

Paper v Electronic Records

It is hard to find the good news in this report, entitled Electronic Records Management - Still Playing Catch-Up With Paper, by Doug Miles, the managing director at AIIM’s UK office.

Even with all the best intentions, most enterprises still have yet to grasp the concept of paperless offices, with the volume of paper records increasing in over half of all organizations -- although 21% did report a decrease.

The findings of the survey were the result of 700 responses across the enterprise content management industry.

Although independent, it was sponsored by some of the biggest names in the industry including Autonomy, EMC, FCS Information Governance, Hewlett-Packard, Mimosa Systems and StoredIQ Inc.

Electronic Security

According to John Mancini, president of AIIM, even bigger issue arises when the security of electronic documents is assessed.

“I’m concerned that management of electronic records is still not being taken as seriously as that of paper records,” he said.

“We found that over a third of organisations, if challenged, would not be confident that their electronic records had not been changed, deleted or inappropriately accessed. For organizations over 5,000 employees it rises to 43%.”

The report author, Doug Miles cites a basic misconception about electronic document management that could explain the current situation.

Document management and scanning is often used as a filing cabinet replacement with nearly half of the respondents admitting to printing Microsoft Office documents or e-mail data and using them as paper records.

Investment In Technologies

As to why they do that a quick look at this report and the previous Forrester report might indicate the problem is that many companies have yet to install the necessary tools.

The AIIM report finds that with 70% of companies reporting an increase in the volume of electronic records, only 13% were using dedicated eDiscovery tools and a further 22% planning to do so in the future.

It the Forrester report entitled Records Management: User Expectations, Market Trends, And Obstacles more than half of those surveyed said that they will be expanding their technology deployments in this regard by 2010.

It also showed that more than half (56%) said they would be investing in new licenses, or try out new products in the coming year 5%. And while only 26% said they were confident they could meet privacy requirements, 45% said they were somewhat confident.

Earlier this year, in its annual State of the ECM Industry research report, AIIM found that managing electronic office documents is still a challenge for 47% of organizations, and that modern business communication channels -- instant messages, text messages, blogs and wikis -- are uncontrolled and off the corporate radar for 75% of businesses.

It also found that whereas two years ago compliance was the main driver for bringing this content into a controlled and searchable environment, cost savings and efficiency are now the main motivating factors.

Maybe its time to put the two in perspective and examine how costly it could be to a business if their electronic records have not been maintained and they are asked to produce them for legal or commercial reasons.

The betting is that it will be a lot more costly than investing in an effective document management system.