ECM: Lack of Records Management Policies can cost a lot of money. Part 1. Records Management Policies – a vital part of ECM – benefits of having them and risks of ignoring them.

Related Articles:
PART 2. What can go wrong if you don’t have Records Management Policies in place?
PART 3. HOW and WHEN to implement Records Management Policies

Records Management Policies are the rules of moving content through all stages of its life cycle until it is discarded (or kept forever).
It usually includes:
– What content you are moving
– When you are moving it
– How you are moving it

Synonyms:
Records Management Policies, Document Retention Policies, Records Retention Policies, Archiving solutions, Archiving strategies, Content Management Policies

The article is for: IT professionals and corporate leaders, companies of all sizes who have a substantial amount different data coming into ECM platform, hybrid or cloud

This article is mostly for cases where you have an ECM platform on-premises or going with the hybrid solution, but some of the statements and ideas can be applicable for a cloud as well.

Having worked as SME in IT  for years just like many of my peers I can probably write books on different topics, issues, success stories, funny stuff… and maybe I will some day :). But today I’d like to write a small article about ECM and lack of its policies – I think this is one of the most interesting and neglected subjects in the corporate life.

Enterprise content management (ECM) is a formalized means of organizing and storing an organization’s documents, and other content, that relates to the organization’s processes. The term encompasses strategies, methods, and tools used throughout the lifecycle of the content. (Wikipedia)
To add to it: ECM is a big part of IT governance and Corporate governance overall.

With a lot of new directions and trends in technology such as Big Data, Service on Demand, AR  and VR, continuing Automation that is affecting every sector of the economy there is a lot of electronic data that is coming into the systems and need to be properly managed. I am talking not only about the products themselves but in addition, everything that surrounds it such as technical documentation, marketing materials, legal docs, financial docs plus many more working files that keep corporation alive and business going.
A lot of companies are doing their best to make sure that they are compliant with existing regulations, plus they are trying to mitigate the risks and put their best efforts into the planning the future of the company but quite often some areas are overlooked. Not on purpose of course, but just because the management does not think that this part is important. So usually it gets pushed to the back burner and forgotten. Or in some cases, they don’t even know that this part needs to be taken care of as well. I am talking about Records (or Content) Management Policies (retention policies and archiving processes) in ECM components of Enterprise Software Applications: clearly outlined and implemented processes of how the content is created, where it resides and most importantly how it is removed from the active stage and then discarded.

I wanted to call this part “The Benefits”, but it just doesn’t sound right because it is not an extra perk where you save the money – it is a vitally important part of corporate processes which will keep you from losing the money if you have it in place. More like consequences and risks of not having it.

So here we go:
Risk mitigation and other benefits of ECM policies or Record Management policies:
There is a number of substantial time saving and money saving (I’d say money-keeping) benefits for having these processes in place:

1. You are avoiding malfunctioning software due to overstuffed DBs or just simply overstuffed lists: that means you are avoiding:
– Projects that are related to this issue. They are usually stressful and urgent and have quite a sizeable price tag at the end. (Keep in mind – the software has its limits)
– Your employees are not wasting their time staring at spinning wheel due to a hung site or losing their changes in the document – here comes a loss of productivity
– You are not possibly spending money on a 3rd party tool for migration
– And! (the most important factor) You are not explaining to your boss what the heck happened there 🙂
+ more
2. Moving the records from “active” stage you are expanding into LOWER tiers storage which is LESS EXPENSIVE than tier 1
3. Your Content Management is compliant
4. You are not storing/backing up obsolete data, the process which cost money
5. It’s easier to find a needle in a smaller haystack 🙂

To sum it up: if you are starting to utilize ECM software and not having Record Management Policies in place – you might be opening the door to a black hole called “Overblown IT spendings”

I’ve been hired on the projects where I had to raise infrastructure and design RM processes right in the beginning and also I’ve had an opportunity to work on the projects where the software gave problems due to the lack of RM processes, so I had to spend a lot of time on fixing the hosing software and design the RM processes at the same time, so this problem is avoidable in the future. Guess what is cheaper for the company? 🙂

Your company should be spending money on growth and not on patching the holes.

Keep reading the next article about the problems that arise from not having the policies in place but if you’d like you can skip to the article how and when to implement the RM policies.

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