• September 16, 2010
  • By Noel Rath Worldwide Product Marketing Manager,
    HP Software & Solutions
  • Article

Collaboration Needs Records Management
Without RM, Chit-Chat is Highly Risky

Collaboration is a process where people and organizations work together toward common goals. This may involve the sharing of ideas, planning an activity, delivering a project or reviewing outcomes. Collaboration is intrinsic to what we do in business. Whether it was building the pyramids, designing a new bridge or undertaking medical research, we have always collaborated. Until recently, evidence of collaboration was documented on paper and laboriously recorded. We now collaborate in an electronic environment using multiple technological tools, information from many sources and various content types. A collaborative activity is no different from any other business process in that it needs to be recorded for operational and recordkeeping purposes.

Microsoft SharePoint is growing as a tool of choice for organizations wanting to leverage their investment and gain productivity benefits through collaboration. Teams become more productive through the sharing of discussion forums, calendar items, blogs and wikis and documents in team collaboration.

But these new items of content created in a business process are legally “discoverable” and must be managed as business records. If evidence of collaboration is not collected, a black hole of information will exist as to why certain decisions are made. A blog or wiki or discussion forum could just as easily expose an organization to legal risk as does an email if unmanaged as a business record and not retained or disposed of according to business rules.

Maintaining controls and recording activities and outcomes are not only required by legislative requirements but good governance. It is both necessary and beneficial to record what is created and collaborated on for operational and historical purposes. Without control and good record keeping, collaboration and ad hoc processes are no more than idle chit chat, albeit well intentioned. Implementing retention policies over this content will deliver benefits such as: the ability to comply with legal requirements; reduction of the risk of adverse business consequences; and being prepared to bring all relevant information to hand when defending or prosecuting legal action.

RM and the Collaboration Process
Consider any major development, construction or research process or a response to a man-made or naturally occurring event. With collaboration and communication tools enabling rapid decision-making, evidence of these activities needs to be captured and managed according to the retention rules of the business. When the discovery of uncontrolled information relies upon trawling through disparate information stores, and you need to link the context of the content item to the business activity that created it, seamless capture is critical. Records management solves this problem with content proactively captured in context with business activity.

SharePoint provides a great collaboration platform where various content types are used to communicate, share information, plan and make decisions. Organizations need to also consider all content types and not just those coming from one technology source when looking at compliance with legislation and regulations. Content emerges from all over—Office documents, various email systems, a diverse range of business applications that are core to business operations, ad hoc processes and collaboration with blogs, wikis, discussions and other new content-originating sources.

The Need for Governance
Collaboration is a free-flowing interaction between people and groups toward an outcome. Records management is a mandatory requirement of business that puts structure around the capture and management of its business transactions according to business rules. So how do we bring this free-flowing collaborative environment together with enterprise records management mandates without impacting the productivity of the knowledge worker and burdening them with administrative tasks? How do we do this in accordance with the broader needs of the enterprise?

Enterprise governance requirements need to be part of your information management project. Start from the enterprise requirement and establish enterprise information governance solutions that have transparency for records management as a fundamental design concept. The many ways content is created and evolves through collaboration and ad hoc processes is expanding. This necessitates administrative-set processes to capture and manage content according to recordkeeping business rules and without burdening the user. Consider solutions that provide for transparency of the capture of the record of activity during ad hoc and collaborative processes, because the last thing we need to do is overload users with additional administrative tasks such as classifying items as records.

Systems that embed the records management rigor into all information management systems are important capabilities and should be at the forefront of the design of an enterprise information governance strategy. By doing this you can deploy SharePoint with confidence that you will be prepared for legal discovery, investigation and audit.

For more information about HP TRIM please visit www.hp.com/go/hptrim.

To learn about how HP TRIM enterprise records management provides transparent records management for SharePoint visit: www.hp.com/go/hptrimsharepoint.

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