Over the past few months I have talked to lots of people interested in the Alfresco Records Management solution. There are a number of reoccurring themes and topics that have come up. I thought I would share some of this advice, so below is a list of things to think about when considering adopting a Records Management solution.
1) Technology is Not the Answer
Many companies think that technology is the solution to provide them with a ‘quick fix’ to their compliance needs. The reality is that compliance is more complex than traditional Document Management or Collaboration. It is very easy to roll out a DM or Collaboration solution, allowing your end users to use it to manage the content that they are creating each day. But Compliance, the art of identifying and managing vital company records, is more complex.
Companies need to understand their legal obligations and put in place policies and procedures to address their compliance needs. Technology can help but it is not the answer.
2) Understand your Legal Obligations
Compliance requirements will be different for each company and these are typically based on legislation and industry regulations. Companies need to research what their legal obligations are and develop a plan for how they are going to address their compliance needs. Things to consider include:
What types of document need to be managed (e.g. Financial Reports, HR files, Standard Operating Procedures, Email)?
How long do records need to be kept?
Do records need to be reviewed, and if so how often?
What should happen to records at the end of their life (transfer, destroy)?
Who should have access to file and declare records?
Only when they have a good understanding of these legal obligations should they start to develop policies and procedures that define your records management strategy.
3) Put in Place Policies and Procedure
Companies need to develop policies and procedures that can be communicated to the rest of the organisation. These policies and procedures need to be understood and easy to follow. It is no longer acceptable to state that a procedure was in place but that the company was not liable because an employee failed to follow it. It is the company’s legal responsibility to make sure all policies are being followed.
4) Make it Simple
Any compliance solution that is difficult to use is going to fail. When choosing a Records Management solution make sure that it is easy to use and can be used by any employee without disrupting the way that they work. One way of working will not necessarily work for every employee; in fact some employees may use multiple means to file records depending on what they are doing at the time. The way that employees want to interact with the compliance system will include:
Desktop access – Using drag ‘n drop to file records directly from the desktop
Email access – Using standard email clients to file emails and their attachments
The Web – Providing RM specific web clients
From DM or Collaboration – Content has a lifecycle before it needs to be filed as a record, make it easy to file once it is approved
Scanning – We are still waiting for the paperless office, so being able to capture and file paper is important
5) Try Alfresco
Having said that technology is NOT the answer it is part of the solution. Companies are looking for an easy to use, lower cost solution that will fit into their existing environment and business practices. By designing the Alfresco Records Management Solution on top of the Open Source Alfresco content management platform, Alfresco provides a single solution to allow companies to easily address their Document Management, Collaboration, Web Content Management, Imaging and Compliance needs through one simple system.
But don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself... take the Records Management challenge – start filing records with Alfresco in under 10 minutes...