If an RM Program already exists and is geared toward a paper-based system, then much of the work towards designing a new program is likely done. The types of records are probably defined appropriately in the strategy, and all that needs to be accomplished is validation and updating to make the program current prior to deployment of an ERM application. In either case, “paper-based program defined” or “paper-based not defined,” the same steps listed below should be accomplished to identify a new program or the necessity for validation and updating of a current program. Below is a list of steps that we will be covering in this phase:
Step 1 – Physically inspect all department or company files:
Physically inspect or conduct an inventory of what records are in each location. You may choose to create a data collection form in order to collect essential data for those records. In the table below there are descriptions of the the typical data collected:
Since records come in various formats, the list of formats below should be considered:
Step 2 – Identify Duplicate, Fragmented, and Related Records:
Once the inventory is complete, the analysis begins. There will be an abundance of duplicate record formats, and record data to sift through. Review and sort the data collection forms by asking three primary questions in the table below:
At this point, you are prepared to create a “File Inventory Matrix” that can be cross-referenced in many ways by criteria, location, format, etc. This matrix is a culmination of the inventory analysis and will eventually be the criteria from which the File Plan is developed.
Step 3 – Match the Records to the Disposition Schedules (if they exist):
The next step is to match the inventory results in the File Inventory Matrix to the Disposition Schedules.
In an ERM application such as Alfresco RM, if unscheduled records are found, they will be labeled as “incomplete” and the application requires the Records Manager to apply a Disposition Schedule to that record. Keep in mind these incomplete records will have to be scheduled by a Records Manager or Records Proprietor which compounded by a large number of records loaded each day by a large number of employees, imagine the manual intervention required. For this reason, it is important to define the Disposition Schedule for each type or category of record.
There may also be specific industry, governmental, or worldwide standards that need to be considered in addition to company-wide or department standards when considering records retention and destruction. Although these standards may not apply to each department, they represent proven ideas and best practices within the industry and by other organizations in addressing an ERM system implementation.
Below are suggested standards. Take a few moments to review these references:
The product of this step is a new or updated records matrix outlining the record title, type, use, department, and disposition or record lifecycle.
Step 4 - Stakeholder Review:
It is important to give the stakeholders of the project an opportunity to review additional, agency-unique record requirements after they have been drafted. Several methods are available in order to facilitate this exercise:
Walk through with stakeholders how records requirements map directly to identified goals.
Ask stakeholders to rank the impact and risk of each organizational process, then use the mapping between record requirements and business processes to rank critical requirements.
Ask stakeholders to identify their "Most Wanted" and/or "Least Wanted" record requirements in the context of organizational value and risk.
Ask stakeholders to rank record requirements, in terms of importance on a sliding scale.
Present the stakeholders with a picture of the File Plan as it could be built from the record requirements and request that they critique it.
Arrange a stakeholder meeting to assess the record requirements either in detail or as a whole.
Publish the draft record requirements and request written comments.
Once stakeholder comments or opinions are known, it is possible to broaden the mandatory record requirements to include those requirements of most use to stakeholders, to re-write requirements as needed, and to prioritize optional requirements according to their usefulness.
Depending on the extent and substance of stakeholder comments, the record requirements may be rewritten and resubmitted for stakeholder evaluation. In the event of the previous existence of legacy paper-based RM program, this may be an especially important step for the owners and operators who have intimate knowledge of that program.
Where there are many competing voices to be heard, an iterative process or re-write, re-prioritizing, and review is needed to sufficiently refine the requirements.