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The Most Dangerous Threat to an EDRMS Project

The biggest threat to an EDRMS project is the RIM-IT disconnect. I see it far too many times. An EDRMS project is a tightly interlocked combination of two technologies-the ECM (Enterprise Content Management) platform, and some form of recordkeeping capability, either built into the ECM platform or otherwise. These two technologies are often at odds with each other. The ECM wants to keep the document. The recordkeeping software wants to destroy the document. In the middle of this is the RIM professional.

The RIM-IT disconnect occurs when the RIM program and the IT program are not fully on the same page. IT wants to deploy the ECM as quickly as possible, and they have their own vision on what this deployment should look like. They envision which sites and libraries documents should go into, and what metadata will be necessary for the business. This is often referred to as the “Information Architecture”, or IA. IA is really just a fancy term for how the ECM platform is configured. Meanwhile the RIM team is wondering how to apply the retention schedule and its inherent retention rules to the system, using the recordkeeping software. IT does not understand the inherent structure and approach of the retention schedule, particularly how case records are to be treated differently from administrative records. The RIM team meanwhile has little input or control over the ECM configuration. The recordkeeping software requires certain configuration of the ECM in order for it to work properly. If the ECM configuration proceeds without taking into account the recordkeeping software and its requirements, you have a very serious RIM-IT disconnect.

Modern electronic recordkeeping software can only do its job if the ECM platform is configured in a certain way to support the compliance activities of the recordkeeping software. All too often, the RIM team has little or no ability to influence the ECM configuration. Worse again, sometimes the RIM team has too little knowledge and understanding of the ECM platform to guide IT to configure it appropriately.

The biggest danger emerges when IT proceeds to deploy the ECM platform without any consideration for the requirements of the recordkeeping software. When this happens, the EDRMS project is in peril. These are the warning signs of a dangerous RIM-IT disconnect:

  • RIM requirements are not spelled out clearly in writing to IT.

  • IT fails to accommodate recordkeeping software requirements in their ECM configuration.

  • The RIM team and the IT team seem to be talking a different language, or using the same terms in a different way.

  • IT believes that the recordkeeping can be added in by the RIM team after the ECM platform has been fully deployed.

  • The RIM team has no influence over the ECM configuration.

  • IT is plowing ahead with content management without waiting for RIM requirements.

  • IT does not have a full or clear understanding of the requirements of the recordkeeping software.

  • RIM and/or IT assumes that out of the box deployment of the recordkeeping software will meet requirements.

  • The RIM team does not have a full understanding of the details of the ECM configuration.

  • The IT team does not have a full understanding of the details of the recordkeeping software configuration and its requirements.

This RIM-IT disconnect is certain to wreck your EDRMS project. The usual consequences of such a disconnect is an ECM deployment that does not meet recordkeeping compliance requirements. IT has pulled off a “successful” EDRMS project, but they really have not. The end result is a document management system, completely lacking the necessary recordkeeping compliance. This is no longer an EDRMS system, it is a document management system only.

This disconnect must be avoided at all costs. Follow these best practices from the earliest stages of the project to avoid this dangerous disconnect:

  • The RIM team learns, understands, and articulates, in writing, the specific recordkeeping software requirements before any ECM configuration decisions are taken.

  • The Retention schedule is updated to take modern recordkeeping software into account.

  • The RIM team learns and understands the basic functioning of the underlying ECM platform (SharePoint, Documentum, FileNET, OpenText, etc.) and understands how it works.

  • IT fully and completely incorporates recordkeeping requirements into the ECM configuration before any actual deployment is carried out.

  • Both RIM and IT sign off on ECM configuration (Information Architecture) prior to deployment.

Don’t let your project get too far along with this dangerous disconnect. If at any stage of your project IT feels they do not fully understand RIM requirements, or if RIM does not fully understand what IT is doing, you’re already in trouble. That’s the time to take a pause and put things on hold and take concrete steps to fix the disconnect and get on the same page. If you don’t control an EDRMS project, it will control you, and that can lead to a very bad outcome.

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