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So a *partial* solution is to create some sort of "access structure" that
categorises the schedules in a way that makes sense to the users, and is
reasonably quick and easy to use. I say *partial* because we still can't
live with over 500 schedules.

One aspect of this access structure would be to present to the user a
limited number of choices at any point in the classification process. 

So initially, the user might have a choice of five very generic category
choices, such as "human resources", "budget", "procurement", "design and
construction", etc. 

Choosing one of these buckets (say, "procurement") would take the user to a
second level of category choices, again limited in number, but much more
specific in nature. For example, "bidding".

Choosing one of these second-level categories would lead the user to a short
list of retention schedules, limited to the sub-category of function
selected at the second level. For example, "bid specifications".

If this process were automated, it could allow the creation of "one-click
workflows" for classification of commonly-used records.

One could enrich the system by attaching a thesaurus of alternative terms to
each category, to allow for the use of different terms which refer to the
same records.

We hope to begin this process.

Best regards.

Fred

-----Original Message-----
From: Records Management Program <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thu Apr 26 17:27:41 2007
Subject: Re: [RM] RAINdrip: SNIA and the IT Community has an epiphany!!!

>>I'd be interested in additional thoughts and comments!!!!<<

Doug,

I don't buy into the big bucket approach. Ease of use is a good thing and
Fred is right, a user cannot understand 5000 categories. Do we need to
consolidate schedules with duplicated record series and conflicting
timeframes, you bet.  But does a big bucket approach do the trick. I
challenge anyone on the list to identify an employee who has to understand
even 50 categories to do his job (RM staff excluded).

One of the things I like to do is take logic and apply it to another
scenario and see if it still makes sense. A company has 25,000 employees and
5000 pool cars. Management has taken the position that there is no way that
employees can decide which of the pool cars they should use. The solution is
to replace the 5000 pool cars with 5 buses. Sure makes it easier on the
folks who manage the motor pool.

Now lets apply the logic to an organization like the one I work for. One
jurisdiction has regulations requiring us to retain a category of
records for 20 years. The big bucket theory would say, keep all records
associated with that activity for 20 years. The upside is attractive,
standardized retention makes it easier for everyone. The downside is a deal
killer. The records today are retained for periods ranging from 4 to 20
years. Standardizing the retention on 20 years will increase storage expense
by a 100 times or more. Throw in migrations, obsolesence, media issues and
this becomes a very bad decision.

I also question the logic behind the entire approach. Employees still need
to be taught which bucket the information needs to go into. Creating 5
buckets only reduces the retention timeframe options, not the description of
record categories that employees need to understand so they will know which
bucket is appropriate. Here is the difference I see:

Traditional Schedule:
HR Records
 - Employment File.............Term + 6 yrs
 - Training File....................Term + 6 yrs
 - Payroll File.....................Term + 6 yrs
 - Performance File.............10 yrs
 - Medical File....................Term + 30 yrs

Big Bucket Schedule
HR Records
 - Employment file, Training File, Payroll File............Term + 6 yrs
 - Performance file..................................................10 yrs
 - Medical file.........................................................Term
+ 30 yrs

 The consequence of the Big Bucket Schedule is that becomes much more likely
that an employee will not be able to find the Training and Payroll files.
Then again, the folks that are doing the filing are HR folks.  They need to
know where to file the documents (in the proper employee file).  Disposition
is a once a year effort that takes minimal time.

I am a Records Manager, what I do is help my organization manage records.
Throwing them in big buckets simply because we don't believe our employees
are competent enough to select from the very small subset of categories that
actually relate to their work is demeaning to the employees.  It
also marginalizes our contribution to the organization and its bottom line.

Bill R

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