Get Your RIM Program up And Running

A. Capture        B.  Classification        C.  Reorganization          D.  Migration

Records management progression from a start-up situation to a fully managed enterprise records management solution can seem like an insurmountable task.

Many organizations implementing a Record and information Management (RIM) program struggle with where to start.  There are considerable digital files in multiple storage structures.   Often records are stored on local hard drives.

It is tempting to move all these files to a shared drive. While this may present some security through centralized backup, it seldom contributes to a more effective storage of records in a structured environment where everyone can easily access the data they need as part of their business process. Hence, the spawn of multiple shared drives or SharePoint sites.

The company typically has no policies around the handling of records or the process for capturing valuable physical or electronic records.

If there is a classification structure, it may be excessively detailed or non-existent. Either way personnel rarely use it.

Someone decides the company needs an Electronic Document and Records Management System (EDRMS), buys and installs the software.  The plan to migrate the existing data into the EDRMS was not planned and may become a rather complex shared drive.

If at least some of the above sounds all too familiar, you are not alone.  Fortunately there is a better approach.

Establishing the management expectations for a RIM program is first up. This is followed by assigning responsibility and budget.  Establishing policies to protect and manage the corporation’s information is required to convey the importance of records management in the business.  Governance is key to success!

Next up would be to create an inventory of the physical and electronic records in the corporation.  This will provide the knowledge on what information you have, where it is and who is using it.

This will bring significant insight into the scope of the job at hand, but without understanding the business requirements and culture of the organization, it is still premature to acquire an EDRMS solution.

This is where a fast and flexible inventory tool can capture the required information without disruption to the established business processes. 

In conjunction with the inventory or even before, the development of a Record Classification and Retention schedule can be developed.

Classifying records can be done after the inventory is captured.   If the classification structure is available and combined with the capture process, this can save valuable time and be used to educate all personnel on the value of classifying documents as they are created.  This process equally applies to physical records and electronic records.  Another benefit of combined classify and capture of asset inventory is that many electronic and paper files can be identified for destruction.

WISPIR provides a tool that helps in the development of a Records and Information Management (RIM) group through establishing an asset inventory. The inventory database can be used to apply classification and retention to assets and prepare for a migration to a full function EDRMS. 

The WISPIR tool can be used in the following four stages:

A. Capture        B.  Classification        C.  Reorganization          D.  Migration

A. Capture

The objective is to create an entry in a database that describes all of the physical assets or electronic files.

Using a passive inventory approach avoid moving any of the assets or files with the potential for disruption in business processes.

Using a database tool can capture the location and source of the asset as well as multiple metadata (*1) fields to describe each asset.

For physical files this can be a box/folder, room/painting, cabinet/drawer, or any container/content combination.  For digital files this can be folder/file with metadata automatically capturing source, date updated, file type, etc.   

The tool can import items form existing spreadsheets or access databases.

Digital files can be imported form hard drives and shared drives using standard or custom import profiles.

Typically the time required to load the inventory is determined by:

  • Number of spreadsheets and databases of existing physical records
  • Inspection time for all physical records which are not in spreadsheet or database
  • Number of source locations, volume of files at each location, and number of import profiles required for digital records
  • Availability of personnel for individual hard drive capture
  • Knowledge on files in shared drive

Capture can be organized by business unit, digital source, or individual

A “sync” function is available to re-acquire any new digital files.

B. Classification

Classification is not required to create an item in the inventory database.

Your classification structure (and retention schedule) can be uploaded to permit drop down selection to reduce coding errors.

The bulk updating function can quickly assign classifications (or changes) to existing items in the inventory database.

If known, the classification can be set for digital files during the capture process.

C. Reorganization

A number of predefined fields are available for assigning a new organizational structure.  This structure accommodates a function classification scheme.

Additional metadata fields can be added to capture unique information on items as a customization.

Without moving an asset, records management can build a new structure for the collection of physical and electronic assets of an organization, report this new structure for approvals.

D. Migration

The new organization structure and current source/location of assets in the WISPIR inventory database can be used by migration tools to expedite the automated transfer of electronic files into a new shared drive or a content management system to establish a corporate repository.

Each stage can be executed separately. The first two stages can be executed at the same time, assuming a classification structure is pre-loaded into WISPIR. The third phase addressing reorganization often occurs at a late time after Records Management group has had time to analyze the collected inventory in conjunction with business unit subject matter experts.

*1 Metadata is “data [information] that provides information about other data”.   I>E> title, author, keywords, color, file type, version, relationship, department, date created, location, classification, source, security access, privacy flag.