Our top 10 tips for a great EDRMS implementation May 14, 2012

We are currently reviewing our Future Proof blog to improve its structure and navigation and have discovered that, since its inception in 2008, the most commonly searched for terms is ‘EDRMS.’

We have been advising agencies for a number of years about EDRMS and implementation projects. We have published some information about EDRMS on the website and blog (though we admit it can be tricky to find!) We have also kept track of some wonderful guidance provided on other sites by practitioners and other archival authorities.


A project team – http://www.flickr.com/photos/belvoirphotos/4926429726/


To assist you, we have brought this all together in a new resource, FAQs about EDRMS . This resource is now available on our website. Our plan is to take note of further enquiries and comments from clients to refine and add to this list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) over time.

In this post we offer our top 10 tips for a great EDRMS implementation drawn from the new resource.

1. Secure ongoing management commitment and support

An EDRMS implementation is a major project for your organisation. For success it has to be supported at a senior level. The most successful projects typically have senior management sponsors who use their influence to ensure visibility of the project and its suitable resourcing.

Your CIO also needs to be on board, to ensure the technical infrastructure is sufficient and technical support is maintained.

Don’t underestimate the influence of business unit managers either – these are the people who can bring about cultural change and promote ongoing use of the EDRMS.

2. Secure suitable resourcing

It is a fallacy to assume that the costs of an EDRMS implementation project equates to the cost of the technology. There are many costs to be factored in, major ones being the cost of the project team, business process definition/re-engineering and change management.

Costs do not simply cease when the implementation is over. There are ongoing costs associated with both the technology and staff to support and manage it.

If you want your implementation to success you need to conduct a realistic cost-benefit analysis looking at all factors. You need to secure funding through a business case and fight to retain it in light of competing priorities!

3. Assemble a motivated, multi-disciplinary project team

In too many cases, staff with insufficient skills and little experience or now understanding of the business and recordkeeping needs of the organisation are expected to project manage an EDRMS implementation, usually with insufficient assistance or resourcing.

EDRMS implementations are complex. They require a team of skilled and knowledgeable people with a variety of skills, including skills in records management, project management, business analysis, IT, training and communication. Carefully selected consultants may be needed if some of these skills cannot be provided in-house.

All team members need to be motivated and act as champions for the project.

4. Ensure there is good governance for the project

The implementation project should be supported by a business case that provides a vision for the project and realistically outlines the benefits and risks, costs and return on investment expected, along with implementation schedules. You will also need detailed project plans based on a sound project management methodology.

Your project team should ensure that plans remain relevant, implementation tasks are met, spending is controlled and risks are mitigated or reported on. The performance of the system needs to be monitored throughout the project and reviewed after implementation.

Implementation projects should also plan for the transition to business as usual.

5. Articulate your requirements well

To bring about real change in your information management you need to fully understand your current situation. Assess if your organisation has sufficient information maturity for an EDRMS, determine what your requirements are and what business process changes are needed and consider how these should be introduced.

In NSW, EDRMS products on the IAMS contract have been assessed by a panel of experts and verified to meet most generic whole-of-government functional specifications and requirements for EDRMS systems. If you buy off this contract you will not need to assess these.

However, you will need to understand your organisation’s own particular business needs and technical requirements and constraints so you can choose the right EDRMS for your needs and configure it appropriately.

6. Select the right EDRMS and ensure your contract is sound

There are many EDRMS applications on the market but can they do what you need them to do? Can they be customised easily for your needs?

You should develop a requirements specification stating your technical and functional requirements which, together with your tender conditions, can help vendors to understand what you are looking for.

You will also need to assess the EDRMS options carefully and should have a sound tender evaluation methodology. When you liaise with vendors read the literature carefully, make sure you ask direct questions where there is doubt, and discuss with/visit organisations already using the EDRMS in the way you plan to use it.

Contract negotiations should be carried out by experienced staff – legal staff if necessary. Ensure that the contract defines clearly what products and services you are obtaining, what service levels you can expect and the implementation methodology.

7. Put effort into configuring the system well and document what you have done

An off-the-shelf product like an EDRMS will need to be configured to meet your business needs. Getting this right is essential. Poor configuration can reduce staff acceptance and use of the system and will lead to inconsistent and poor quality metadata collection.

If you have articulated your requirements, this information will provide invaluable guidance at configuration by helping you to design a system that really meets your business needs. If you need to integrate business systems with your EDRMS, the way you configure your EDRMS can influence the success of the integration. Therefore discuss any known integration requirements with the business and IT staff before you set up your EDRMS.

It is extremely important that any configuration of the EDRMS is very well documented. The decisions you make at configuration all need to be documented. For example, make sure you document:

  • what metadata fields you select
  • what data types or aggregations you implement
  • what supporting tools or systems you incorporate
  • what picklists or drop-down menus you deploy
  • what inter-dependencies exist between fields
  • what business rules exist within fields etc.

This information is critical to support the longevity and sustainability of the system and to support future upgrades, enhancements and migrations.

8.  Ensure you have good supporting strategies and tools

A technological solution will not fix all your information management woes. Consider what supporting strategies and tools you already have in place and what you may need to develop or update so that the EDRMS makes a difference to information management in your organisation.

These can include:

  • information management strategies, standards, policies and procedures
  • a business classification scheme
  • a thesaurus or other form of naming conventions or controlled language
  • a functional retention and disposal authority
  • recordkeeping metadata schemas
  • security and access rules and labelling conventions, and
  • business rules and procedures for the system.

You should not underestimate the need for experienced staff to produce these tools and the need for staff consultation and training. They require a significant investment of time to complete and manage over time.

Tip: Try to ensure that many of the tools within the system are hidden from users and required actions are automated – staff do not want to be records managers, they want to be able to perform their business with minimal disruption.

9. Focus on change management and user consultation and support

Ultimately an EDRMS will only be successful if staff use it to create and capture records of their business. If it is not used, resources for the EDRMS and its implementation have been wasted.

An EDRMS implementation will mean changing, and sometimes re-engineering, established business practices. In addition, more responsibility for daily recordkeeping tasks are likely to fall to action officers who may not be willing or ready for them. Fear, mistrust and resentment can impact on usage of the system.

Ideally your organisation should have change management, communication and training plans and practices to ensure that staff are involved in process design and ready for the EDRMS. Sufficient resources for these activities must be provided.

10. Test, test and test some more!

You may have all the right change management initiatives to encourage user support of the EDRMS. None of this will help you if staff are faced with bugs, slow response rates and downtime during a roll-out. Make sure you fix any problems with the IT infrastructure and the system before implementation occurs.

Think about piloting the project at specific sites so that any minor problems can be remedied before the whole system goes live.

Set up a testing environment and do lots of it! After migrations, configuration or integration, test some more. Schedule some user acceptance testing. Review and retest frequently and monitor system performance throughout the implementation.

One final note: make sure you keep good records of system weaknesses so they can be addressed.

Let us know your thoughts

We would be happy to hear your views about our top 10 tips – Do you agree with them? What other recommendations would you have for organisations who are preparing for EDRMS implementations?

Also, please feel free to comment about our responses to the FAQs about EDRMS or let us know if there are other questions we should address.  You can either add a comment to this blog or email us.


One Comments
FactorLoads September 25th, 2018

I strongly agree with what you said. I think that it is important that you have a great and skilled team so that everything will be in a good hands or control. Thanks for sharing this article. These are all helpful tips.

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