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Records management case study at KMWorld 2022: GSA and Enterprise Knowledge work together on federal records management

With the U.S. government’s Office of Management and Budget’s Regulation M-19-21, Managing Electronic Records, federal agencies face a December 2022 deadline to manage their records electronically and demonstrate their capabilities to OMB and the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

NARA sponsors the Federal Electronic Records Modernization Initiative (FERMI), which outlines how federal agencies will modernize and manage records cost-effectively, standardized and interoperable with other intra- and inter-agency documents and data management systems.

David Simmons, knowledge management specialist, senior records officer, General Services Administration (GSA) and Angela Pitts, consultant, Enterprise Knowledge discussed, “Road Maps & Roadblocks to Federal Electronic Records Management” at KMWorld 2022.

They dove into the strategies to identify elements of organizational change management required to successfully transition standard functions of records management (RM)—capture, maintenance, disposal, transfer, assignment of metadata, and reporting—from manual, paper-based practices to more efficient and less costly electronic systems.

General Services Administration worked with Enterprise Knowledge to update its records management process, Pitts explained. Records management is a form of knowledge management that knows what content our business creates and manages, and why. It’s about understanding what content customers value, incorporating the knowledge of a document lifecycle into work processes, and reducing resources and attention needed to manage content collections, Simmons said.

According to Simmons, redefining federal records:

  • Saves people time looking for relevant information
  • Increases confidence locating information quickly and completely
  • Protects individuals and organizations from legal risk

GSA spent 10 years consolidating all of its enterprise records on one platform where the finished documents could be declared records and processed through the records lifecycle, Pitts said.

“We had to define and refine the return on investment to keep the stakeholders in mind,” said Pitts.

Enterprise Knowledge worked to use a taxonomy on classifying and identifying records. Developers were the first roadblock in this process, Simmons said. Resistance to even seeing records management as a priority almost derailed the project. The second roadblock was monetary because a script behind storing records needed to be reconfigured.

“Each time we’d have to shift our focus a little bit,” Simmons said.

There are going to be instances when content has security implications in ways that may not be accounted for so companies should expect some roadblocks regarding this, Pitts said.

“One way to prepare for that is to always have the mindset that you have to market this,” Pitts said. “Make people understand where the value is.”

When bringing systems together there’s always a synchronization of data that is needed, and that’s a challenge to overcome.

“When the project veers into a different direction, be agile and ready for that to occur,” Pitts said.

According to Simmons lessons learned from this project include:

  • Build RM on previous accomplishments
  • Aim for 100% RM identification on migration—saves do over work
  • Find every document’s freshness date and use it in bulk when possible
  • Build systems as though the platform/software will change in 3-5 years
  • Be an advocate for content over technology

“Understand that records and documents have value that outlast generations of technology,” Simmons said.

KMWorld returned in-person to the J.W. Marriott in Washington D.C. on November 7-10, with pre-conference workshops held on November 7.

KMWorld 2022 is a part of a unique program of five co-located conferences, which also includes Enterprise Search & Discovery, Office 365 Symposium, Taxonomy Boot Camp, and Text Analytics Forum.

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