A Little May Be Enough
One of the conundrums of electronic records management is where to begin. Many organizations that are in the middle of establishing a system also wonder if it will be sufficient to placate regulators, lawyers, or judges who may request the information. While it is unlikely all experts, particularly legal ones, will agree on all aspects of an enterprise records management strategy, many concur that if you have the foundation of a system in place, and you are in the process of establishing a comprehensive system, then most regulators and litigators will take this into account as a good-faith effort.
Morey says at his company, he began by building a base and added layers on top of that. Whether that's enough for the regulator or person requesting the information, he couldn't say, but he does believe that, in the post-Enron world, you better have a plan in place where you can demonstrate your commitment to records management. "Before we went to user groups, we spent a fair amount of time with our implementation experts building our basic taxonomy structure of all documents at Corporate Express," he says. "If a regulator comes in, you can at least say ‘I've got the tree built,' and we think it's defensible to have that tree built and mapped to a retention schedule, and now we are going out to one group at a time and figuring out how to do it." Knowing you won't get it done over night, Morey says, you have to have a detailed plan in place.
Faced with a growing regulatory and litigation burden, companies must find ways to track electronic records with the same precision they once did with paper records. There may not be a box in a warehouse and a ledger on a shelf listing its location anymore, but it's now perhaps even more important that you can save what you need and know how to get your hands on it when called to do so. What's more, it's just as important to place an expiration date on records, so they can be destroyed as allowed on a regular basis. This doesn't just allow you to control your records; it provides a way to weed them out, and as the number of electronic records grows, this is an important element of electronic records management. As Morey said, it may not be wise to overestimate the problem, but neither should organizations underestimate the value of a good-faith electronic records management strategy.
Hitachi Data Systems
Open Text Corporation