Access and Feeds

Records Management: Making a Good RM Program Better

By Dick Weisinger

Oce Business Services recently reported on the results of a survey of Records Management programs currently in place at businesses having annual revenues greater than $100 million.   Their goal was to find out more about how existing RM programs could be improved.  The report also tries to identify components of existing RM systems which may be underutilized.  As primarily a scanning company, Oce’s approach and perspective in the report focused on the benefits that document imaging can bring to a records program, but nonetheless,  the results of the report are valid and interesting ones to consider.

The Oce survey found that 30 percent of RM programs were managing only paper records, not electronic ones.  The report points out that those companies not using electronic records should consider the advantages of electronic systems.  ERM systems can drive lower costs, reduce the physical space required for storage, improve recovery response times in disasters, and shorten the time needed to locate records.

When asked why electronic records are easier to manage than paper ones, organizations listed the benefits that they are deriving from keeping their information in electronic format.  81 percent said that it improves the process of filing and retrieval.  47 percent cited advantages to being able to use electronic information in business process workflows, and 40 percent said that collaboration was easier when data is electronic.

While most companies with ERM systems are using some amount of document imaging to convert their paper records into digital form, the survey found that not all organizations recognized the full range of benefits that document imaging can provide.    For example, 77 percent of companies use document imaging to improve processes and operational efficiencies.  72 percent use imaging to reduce paper and save storage space.  But the report pointed out that document imaging can also be better utilized in complying with regulations — only 50 percent reported that they using imaging in that way.  And only 21 percent are using imaging to increase competitive advantage, although it should be noted that ‘competitive advantage’ is a much less tangible and quantifiable benefit when compared to some of the other benefits mentioned.

The Oce report notes that the usefulness of document imaging is something which runs across organizational borders.  Imaging may be used, for example, for purposes of Records Management, but it is also generally applicable to other groups and processes in the organization, like accounts payable, claims processing, and eDiscovery.  A more global application of document imaging can bring benefits to all groups within the business.  The report notes that a large percent of organizations that start out piloting an imaging program in one part of the business often expand the program to other areas of the business.

One interesting fact is that the report found that RM reports to the legal department in 37 percent of organizations, and in 28 percent of organizations, RM reports to IT.  But 15 percent of RM groups don’t know who they report to.

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