Link to business, train staff, integrate – more suggestions for implementing an EDRMS May 1, 2013

In the lead up to our next EDRMS implementer’s discussion group meeting later this month, here are some more electronic document and records management systems (EDRMS) implementation strategies that we have been discussing with an agency currently starting off their implementation project.

Tap into internal drivers

Do people in your organisation want better information sharing? Or is managing workflows or version controls a problem? Or is it hard for people to locate where a project is up to at a particular point in time?

If you can work out what is causing daily pain and annoyance to staff in your organisation, you can focus your EDRMS implementation plan on how to fix or improve these issues.

Your EDRMS is a core organisational business system. You want it to have a real impact on your operations, you want it to be used effectively and you want it to improve actual business problems.

While it is important to have good governance and policy frameworks in place to support your EDRMS and its operations, you should try to focus on building the most effective business system for your organisation first, and then support this with appropriate policy and procedure.

Identify key business processes

How do you make your EDRMS an effective business system for your organisation? By closely aligning it to your business operations.

By really focussing on what business your organisation performs and how this business is done, you will be able to determine how your EDRMS can best be integrated with your organisation’s business operations.

For instance, in assessing processes you may find that core business process X is mainly performed by team Y and they use the email system as their primary business system for performing this process.  In trying to implement the EDRMS successfully in this area of your business, you will know that one of your key challenges will be to insert the EDRMS as a seamless addition to this specific email-based workflow.

By grounding your EDRMS planning and implementation strategy on real work and information flows like this, you may discover that you need additional components in your project schedule, like a project to shut down share drives or to limit the size of email accounts, or the auto deletion of email messages after 60 days, in order to promote effective use of the EDRMS.

Focus on specific advice to help your users

If you are able to undertake a good range of process analysis to support your EDRMS implementation, you will also be able to develop some really targeted supporting advice and documentation for staff, rather than broad and generic procedures.

For example, you could develop a specific EDRMS cheat sheet for team Y that says for these types of emails, save them to this location in the EDRMS, and for these ones put them here. These very specific and user-focussed procedures are possibly more likely to be used than less localised approaches.

Given contract staff are a significant component of many workforces, it is useful to have some general advice for these staff on what their recordkeeping responsibilities are, and also a cheat sheet that provides them with recordkeeping shortcuts that are specific to the work they are doing.

You may also have the potential to configure your EDRMS to best help users. For example, can you implement business-focussed picklists or drop downs that users can scan and select to help auto-populate a lot of metadata content in your EDRMS? If you are developing a thesaurus, can this be linked to a users login so when they log into your EDRMS their most commonly used files, or commonly used parts of the thesaurus pop up as default options?

Consider where integrations may be required with other business systems

You can use your planned EDRMS implementation as an opportunity to check up on recordkeeping in key, high risk organisational business systems. If you find that the recordkeeping capacities of these systems are not good, you can use your EDRMS implementation as a driver to improve this.

One option to consider for improving recordkeeping in really high risk systems is to build integration pathways between these and your EDRMS. Alternatively, another strategy to consider to improve business system recordkeeping is to implement a process that requires the export of a report from the business systems each week. This report could be designed to capture a record of all necessary transactions and this report could then captured into your EDRMS.

Following your business system assessment you may want to identify certain system owners as EDRMS champions because they will need to have core responsibility for the recordkeeping that is needed to support the business performed by their system.

Examine your disposal authority

Take relevant extracts from your disposal authority with you when you are out in the organisation assessing business process.

By taking your disposal authority around with you, you will have a better awareness of:

  •  how long the data in business systems will need to be kept for
  • which records can be left in your business systems to serve out their retention period there and which will need to be regularly exported into the EDRMS because it has a long retention requirement that cannot be met by the business system
  • which records outlined in your disposal authority may not currently be created, which areas of your business create high risk, long term value information etc
  • how you can connect disposal triggers to work flows or work processes
  • how you can connect your disposal authority to thesaurus or classification tools for more automated sentencing

Being informed about retention requirements at the start of your project also means you can stop legacy problems before they happen. You can assign disposal information before a record is even created. For the long term value information you identify you can also, for instance, create system controls whereby users have to enter more metadata potentially to describe these long term value records.

Your best investment is in user training and education

Ultimately the effective use and implementation of your EDRMS all does hinge on the user acceptance of all your work. Therefore do try to ensure that time and money can be appropriately invested in user support and education.

Further information

State Records has an published FAQs about EDRMS which contain lots of extra information about selecting and implementing an EDRMS.

If you are in NSW government, you can also consider joining our EDRMS Implementers Discussion Group. Please contact us for more information.

In addition, we always love feedback via the blog, so feel free to tell us know here about your EDRMS implementation tips and tricks. We will continue to post EDRMS updates after our discussion group meetings.

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