AIIM (news, site) posed an interesting question: Have you (really) embraced Electronic Records Management (ERM), or are you still stuck in the age of paper management?

Judging by a recent personal experience when visiting a local government office, ERM has long ways to go and AIIM's 2010 Records Management toolkit might just be that guiding star.

What's Wrong with Records Management?

It's 2010, but many activities are still done/managed/saved via paper and not electronic records. Do you know long long it takes to process a record on paper vs. doing it electronically? And you wonder why the lines are so long every time you go to a government, medical, insurance, etc. office?

[A helpful reminder: How DM is different from RM]

AIIM aims to change that through education and better understanding of records management principles in their latest addition to AIIM's toolkit collection – Records Management 2010.

The paper is available for download and covers many topics -- from best practices, maturity matrices to the evolution of Electronic Records Management.

Best Practices for Electronic Records Management

According to AIIM, RMers need to mind the four Cs:

  1. Compliance
  2. Cost
  3. Collaboration
  4. (Business) Continuity

There are three categories of systems that can address the 4 Cs: Enterprise CMS (ECM), ERM and Email Management. The key in any of them is a proper implementation.

Another piece of advise is to take a holistic, silo-free, enterprise-wide approach to managing records vs. looking at narrow solutions. Think scanning, OCR, email capture, collaboration -- all under one technology roof.

Also, get executive support and buy-in -- just like with any Enterprise CMS implementation. AIIM puts it well:

Management often shuns the term “records management,” opting instead for somewhat slippery descriptors such as “compliance and information” or “knowledge management.” Records management is not a dirty word...

Without creating a common language/controlled vocabulary and standard indexing terms, it might be so much harder to collaborate and share information. Everyone in the organization needs to be able to speak the same ERM language and understand the terminologies used.

Using metadata -- the data about data -- organizations can categorize their electronic records and increase usability and findability.

And finally -- train, train, train and manage change. And hold your employees accountable. Be pro-active and not reactive. When first creating or receiving information, either create a proper record of it in a specific app, or destroy it.

Evolution of Records and Information Management

A plethora of RM knowledge exists, yet there are still challenges in the practitioner world. There are ERM technologies, yet still it takes hours to process and manage a piece of paper. Why?

AIIM says:

Paper had advantages. Reading required no power source, so long as a window was nearby. And file systems were straightforward. It’s not surprising that records management borrowed heavily from Library Science. To this day, most academic degrees in records management are conferred by schools of Library Science.

But then we got digital scanning, cheap storage, more computer speed. These are some of the advances that AIIM sees as part of the ERM evolution, allowing RMers to be productive and efficient when managing records. Learn from the mistakes of the '80s and make today a better Records Management world.