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All roads lead to RM

also take advantage of the MyWorkspace (a personal retention workspace) temporarily, or be moved directly into the RM system from the Microsoft application in which the user is working.

“As a technology company that prides itself in helping customers manage data efficiently, we feel that it is important for us to have our own strategic RM solution,” Lauwers points out. “With our RM solution, that is what we have accomplished.”

Meridio’s suite is designed for use with products from Microsoft (microsoft.com). The suite includes document and records management solutions for Microsoft SharePoint, Exchange and other desktop applications. Documents created in non-Microsoft applications must be saved into SharePoint in order for Meridio’s software to operate on them.

Cream on the top

The ability to mesh RM requirements with daily work is pivotal to the success of an RM system. “Businesspeople do not get paid to make records,” says John Bellegarde, VP of marketing at Meridio. “They get paid to make decisions.” Therefore, the RM system should not get in the way of daily work.

RM also is a way to preserve critical knowledge. Of the many documents generated during a project, just a few may be deemed records, but they represent valuable historical, legal or technical information that can be leveraged in the future.

“Archived paper records were rarely used as organizational knowledge,” he says, “because retrieving them was too difficult.” Meridio’s software allows searching by key word and also by browsing a taxonomy.

“The records are the cream on the top,” claims Bellegarde, “because the less important documents have been filtered out—and this helps reduce information overload.”

DM to RM

At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), the push is on to develop a records management system to support compliance with federal and state laws. As a first step, UWM has developed a centralized document management system called PantherFile, which uses the Enterprise Document Management Suite (EDMS) from Xythos Software. PantherFile, which has 12,000 users throughout the university community, allows storage and retrieval of files using a Web browser. It stores documents, spreadsheets, PDF files, contracts, electronic textbooks and many other kinds of information developed and accessed by UWM users.

Meanwhile, UWM is carrying out the groundwork for its RM system. “The Board of Regents is in the process of finalizing our updated records retention policy,” says Bruce Maas, interim CIO at UWM. “This revision takes into account all the advances in technology that have taken place over the last few years and will cover all 26 campuses in the university system.” UWM’s archivist, who works in the university libraries, is the records management specialist, and explains to the faculty and staff how records should be managed subject to policy.

Close integration of the RM function with document management was an important goal of PantherFile. “We wanted to provide our users with the ability to manage the record at the time they save the document,” says Maas. “Otherwise, it would be a lot more difficult to comply with our policies.”

Xythos EDMS was selected after a careful evaluation of options considered by a user-led team established by Maas. “The IT department was not the primary decision-maker, although it was represented on the team,” says Maas.

However, a conscious decision was made by the IT department to focus on loosely coupled applications rather than a tightly integrated suite. That allows UWM to have a great deal of flexibility in the choice of enterprise applications that make up core enterprise IT services for the university.

One of the attractive features of Xythos EDMS is that the RM function is a part of the product rather than an add-on. Xythos made that decision as a way of differentiating its software from other ECM products.

Get started

“Many ECM vendors have licensed or purchased RM applications from other companies,” says Jim Till, chief marketing officer at Xythos, “but Xythos Enterprise Document Manager 6.0 uses the same repository for records management as it does for document management.”

Xythos has also obtained DoD 5015.2 certification. “Our goal was to provide a simple, cost-effective solution to capture, store and manage content,” says Till, “and to include records management as part of the functionality.”

Whether the catalyst for RM is a transition from paper to electronic records, a focus on e-mail or the development of a centralized document management system, the important thing is to get started. “Most at risk,” says Murphy, “are those organizations that have sidestepped the issue totally, allocating ownership of e-mails and documents to the original creators or recipients.”

Although routine use of RM capabilities is likely to outweigh crisis response, when the auditors arrive, organizations will want to be ready.

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