Future Proof Update August 2009 – Selecting software for managing records August 21, 2009

What does NSW government recommend and how can I work out what’s best for me?

As you’re probably aware, a number of software products whose specific purpose is managing records and other information assets are available in the marketplace.

The NSW government has assessed a wide range of these products and selected a small number that best meet the challenge of managing the State’s information assets. The chosen software solutions are identified in Contract 2602 GSAS Information Asset Management Systems (IAMS) Software Applications, discussed in detail at State Records’ Future Proof site [//futureproof.records.nsw.gov.au/selecting-recordkeeping-software-to-suit-your-organisation/]

In summary, what is offered by the contract is a range of different solutions selected to meet a range of different needs. This type of approach has been adopted because information management abilities, capacities and needs differ significantly across government organisations. Some organisations already have good levels of recordkeeping compliance and are looking to progress their information management beyond the basics into increased levels of automation, web content management and knowledge sharing. Consequently the contact lists specific vendors who offer specially chosen software packages and combinations that will enable these advanced levels of information management to be achieved.

In contrast, a large number of organisations are still working hard to achieve minimum levels of recordkeeping capacity. They are working to get the basics of records control, classification, use and disposal right and so the contract therefore also offers a range of vendor and software solutions to enable these critical outcomes to be achieved.

To work out how the solutions listed on the contact can best help your organisation, the Government Chief Information Office has developed a tool you can use to assess the current state of your organisation’s information management and to identify where you’d like to move to in the future. Based on the input you provide to the range of specific yes/no questions, the tool, called the Information Asset Management Maturity Matrix and Assessment Tool, then calculates which information management solutions available on the contract will best meet your current and future needs.

Remember, it’s horses for courses

It’s important to note that not all products available on the contract will suit all environments. Vendors and solutions have been chosen for their ability to meet particular needs. Some were chosen because they have highly developed solutions that are appropriate for those organisations with advanced recordkeeping and information management capacities. Others are much simpler solutions, designed for environments with more minimal requirements. So it’s really important to know your environment, know your requirements, use the assessment tool and choose a solution that best works for you.

The process of assessing the software solutions was massive…

All solutions on the contract had to measure themselves and report against a massive functional requirements statement developed by State government experts.

The functional requirements statement covered 18 specific areas of information asset management – records and document management processing, user and identity management, document relationship management, storage management, security and access management, search and retrieval, reporting, audit management, email management, content management, content input/output management, workflow, content quality and organisational controls, content rights management, web content management, collaboration and productivity, knowledge management and operational and technical support. In total, there were 1547 lines of detailed requirements specified.

Because the functional requirements were so extensive, a number of the solutions proposed are combinations of software which, when implemented together, offer a comprehensive solution but which, as separate products, may not meet your specific needs. Where products are bundled together on the contract it’s important to realise that these products have intentionally been combined and implementing one without the other runs the risk of not meeting your stated recordkeeping needs and requirements.

What about SharePoint?

There has been a lot of discussion in records management circles about Microsoft’s Sharepoint software, with many records managers being asked why they should not implement it for all their information asset management needs including records management. This product is listed on the GSAS Contract but it is only listed as a component of a specific software combination and it should not be regarded as a stand-alone option for providing records management capabilities. Under the terms of the contract Sharepoint on its own is not approved for use for basic records management; that is, it was not approved for use in Levels 1A&B (Basic physical / electronic document / records management, Level 2 (Document tracking and user/security management and Level 3 (Advanced workflow and administrative controls).

SharePoint is on the contract because it offers excellent abilities in workplace collaboration and is useful for web content management. When it is combined with the very comprehensive TRIM records management software system (as it must be under the terms of the contract) it helps to provide a solution that can address all 18 of the areas specified in the functional requirements.

Which vendors are on the contract and why should I use them?

The following vendors have been appointed to Contract 2602: GSAS Information Asset Management Systems Software Panel:

  • Alphawest Services (TRIM + Microsoft SharePoint Server)
  • ELO Digital Office
  • EMC (Documentum)
  • Interwoven
  • Netcat
  • Objective
  • Opentext
  • Oracle
  • Tower Software Engineering (TRIM)
  • Vignette

Using the contract allows you to purchase software that you know as been comprehensively assessed and will give you significant cost advantage, due to the government’s buying power. So use the assessment tool, work out your own specific needs and requirements and implement the solution that is going to work best for you.

Share your IAMS knowledge and experiences!

The Government Chief Information Office has set up an online information sharing and collaboration site to support the GSAS IAMS contract that NSW public sector staff, including recordkeeping professionals, are invited to join.

The purpose of the Information Asset Management Systems Knowledge Resource Centre (IAMS KRC) Group is to enable the NSW Government to take advantage of the collective knowledge and skills, IAMS implementation experience and intellectual capital of members and their organisations. To do this the KRC will provide for a discussion on topics of interest, a repository for material or relevance, and areas to collaborate on projects of interest.

If you are interested in joining the IAMS KRC contact Peter Clare peter.clare@commerce.nsw.gov.au

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