Let's stop and rewind a minute: all records are
documents, but not all documents are records
created in the normal course of business of an
organization. I can scan a comic book into a
document management system. That doesn't make it
a record. When someone uses the term "document
management system," I ask do you mean a records
management system? Vendor's reply: "what's
that?" Would you buy a records management system
if it were "only" a document management system?
I'm inserting here a list of 16 questions to ask
vendors that was circulated at an ARMA conference
some years ago. Most of them are still valid.
Automating Your Records Functions?
Sixteen Questions to Ask Vendors
1. How does your system deal with records which
are related to but not part of the system you
propose (e.g., legacy records, records that feed into the records in question)?
2. How does the system deal with, provide access
to, older records that will not be back-file converted?
3. How does the system write and apply
constantly changing records management policies?
4. How does the system select and implement changing retention periods?
5. How will be the system accommodate a changing
regulatory environment in which revisions of
records retention requirements can change on a
daily basis? For example, how will the new
computer-based system “understand” current and
upcoming requirements of current IRS electronic record keeping rules?
6. How does the system search for and produce
information which has not been properly indexed?
(Systems “index themselves” only in unsophisticated ways.)
7. How does the system understand the
organization’s structure and history in order to
identify and make available to users all relevant
repositories of information throughout the
organization? (This would include information of
an archival, historical nature that documents the
purpose and growth of the organization.)
8. How does the system physically search a box
of hardcopy records, filing cabinets, or employees’ desk drawers?
9. How does the system keep up to date on
emerging issues in information management?
10. How does the system identify the media
appropriate or information retention? How does
the system convert information form one medium to
another (e.g., paper to optical disk or
computer-out-put microfiche or 16mm microfilm)?
11. How does the system determine which records
are responsive to an audit, discovery, or a subpoena?
12. How will it flag such records and stop
unauthorized destruction or disposition?
13. What are the system’s capabilities in
organizing and supporting litigation for the
organization’s internal or external counsels and other legal staff?
14. How does the system account for and deal
with the many convenience copies--printed out or
electronically duplicated--found in filing
systems throughout the company? Copies of the
same record to be deleted may be found in an
employee’s drawer, in a records center, on a
computer that is not on the LAN, etc.
15. Will the system force all users to store all
“records” (including those not relevant to the
system’s original purposes and functionalities)
in electronic form? If not, how will the system
analyze all user needs and then develop an
effective active filing/retrieval system for all
information/records needs throughout the
organizationincluding those which may or may not
belong directly in the system proposed?
16. How does the system filter, re-organize,
repackage, and update information needed by
first-line supervisors, middle managers, and senior management?
List archives at http://lists.ufl.edu/archives/recmgmt-l.html
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