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I have heard of too many cases where the system (hardware
and software) offered by
vendors to solve a Records Management problem set the buyer
up for a future disaster.
The system worked beautifully until it became obsolete,
meaning that there are no techs around who can work on the
system, parts are no longer available to repair the
system, no programmers are available to patch the software,
etc. I believe the situation can be completely avoided if
buyers will require vendors to include the following
paragraph in their proposals.

oIf you follow all of our written procedures when using our
proposed system, we
guarantee to maintain at our facility, for not less than
_____ years, sufficient hardware,
software and technical support to allow you to retrieve any
and all information you
record using our proposed system. If, for any reason
whatsoever, we are unable to
provide such an information retrieval system, we will accept
full liability for any litigation
brought against you due to your inability to retrieve
information processed using our
proposed system.o

(I recommend talking with your legal department before using
this statement. Lawyers
like to use bigger words.) But this statement should give
you a better idea of the
commitment of the vendors with whom you are working. These
words were put together
at the request of several people who were concerned with not
just the initial cost of
their records management systems, but the cost of
maintaining them through the years.
If it appears that information will have to eventually be
migrated from one system to
another, I suggest you investigate the option of committing
the records to microfilm and
then scanning the film images into the digital system. Your
records will be stored on a
aepermanentAE, human readable medium. Migration can be
accomplished by rescanning the images into the newest
e.system. This procedure is less likely to introduce errors
into the records during the migration process than the
process of e.copying e.files from one e.system to another
e.system that may have difficulty communicating with the
first e.system.
This procedure does have a drawback - the microfilm images
will probably have to be
duplicated every 500 years. But look on the bright side; by
that time systems and media
that are more durable may be available (and, if weAEre lucky,
we will have retired by
then).
Respectfully submitted for your consideration.
Bill Thomas, VP R&D, MicroD International
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