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Records management: an expanding role

This article appears in the issue May 2014, [Volume 23, Issue 5]
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Even an established and mature technology can find itself at the center of change. Long treated as an administrative requirement, records management has transitioned to a mission-critical part of information governance. The value of records management in operations and even strategic planning is becoming more widely recognized.

That’s not to say that the majority of organizations have mastered records management. Many studies indicate that they fall short even in simple processes such as timely deletion of records, or in more challenging actions such as managing cloud-based information or content derived from social media. But many show signs of moving in the right direction.

Good governance ensures that information management is compliant and that the organization is accountable. It includes the ability to use information appropriately and to establish processes, whether or not the information constitutes a formal record. Therefore, it has a broader context than records management, although the definition of a record itself is also broader than it used to be.

Information governance provides a rich lens through which to view corporate records, according to Cheryl McKinnon, principal analyst at Forrester. “Accurate information should be available to users who need it to make important decisions,” she says. “Companies should think about how they organize it, revise it and move it through the whole lifecycle. A key part of governance is moving policies to the beginning of this cycle instead of waiting until the end to classify a record.” (See McKinnon’s article, “Five Trends are Reshaping Records Management,” kmworld.com/Articles/Editorial/Features/5-trends-are-reshaping-records-management-92683.aspx.)

Risk mitigation

PSA Peugeot Citroën is the second largest auto manufacturer in Europe, after Volkswagen, and in a typical year, must manage tens of millions of technical, operational and regulatory records. Several years ago, the company selected RSD GLASS, an information governance platform from RSD to manage electronic and physical records. The information consists of a combination of structured and unstructured documents. That complex body of information must be cross-referenced in a variety of ways, including references to different model years and engine models.

With a huge volume of documents to manage, Peugeot Citroën wanted an enterprisewide system for information governance. The company also sought to mitigate risk related to compliance for records that could originate in any of its facilities in Europe, South America and Asia, and related to multiple functions, including vehicle production, manufacturing and R&D.

Initially, RSD GLASS was used on design and supply chain documents to provide archiving and lifecycle management. It was also used to allow access to off-site physical records. During its search for a solution, Peugeot Citroën found that RSD was the best solution for providing a combination of central policy management, federated enforcement and the ability to apply policies to documents in any repository rather than using a proprietary one.

RSD was founded in 1973 to manage large volumes of output from mainframe applications, and evolved into archiving and records management. “About seven years ago, we began an intensive round of discussions with our customers and realized the extent to which they needed a comprehensive governance layer across their repositories, not just within our system,” says Tamir Sigal, VP of marketing and strategy at RSD.

Tighter control

Customers did not have a manageable way to link the information they had with the laws to which they had to comply, or to apply retention schedules across those systems. “RSD GLASS allows customers to keep the information where it is and provide governance across these locations,” Sigal says. “In the past, physical records allowed a more controlled environment, but with the advent of PCs and distributed electronic systems, IT departments were losing control not only of the systems but also the information.”

Litigation and e-discovery are important drivers for tighter control of information. “The problem with litigation is that you never know when it is going to happen, and you need to be prepared,” Sigal explains. “Companies must be able to find information easily without incurring high costs.” In addition, a risk is associated with maintaining unnecessary documents. “They want to be able to access it and know who owns it, to be sure it is governed according to policy, and to delete what can legitimately be deleted,” ?he says.

In a litigation involving another carmaker’s brakes, the situation mushroomed because the company did not respond and did not know how extensive the problem was. “Peugeot Citroën was concerned because they used some of the same vendors and wanted to understand the risk,” Sigal says. “As a user of RSD GLASS, they were able to locate their records very quickly and accurately assess the problem, which reduced their exposure.”

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