Many companies spend years trying to implement a centralized records management system that includes all the different types of records in their organization. They take a top-down approach, starting with a records inventory and moving through building a universal file plan that includes all record types. The problem is that, more often than not, they get stuck in the planning and analysis stage and the actual management of records is delayed by months or even years.
It isn’t hard to imagine the time, cost, and resources required to do a complete records inventory, study the way a company performs its record management processes and define a full taxonomy and file plan. And of course while that analysis is happening, the underlying systems and processes that create records are changing.
This approach to records management is fundamentally flawed. In fact, the fundamental reason for undertaking the initiative – increasing compliance and reducing risk – is further delayed and regulatory risks actually increase. Fortunately there is a much faster way to increasing compliance.
One of our customers demonstrates a much more pragmatic and effective approach. MGEN is a major financial services company in France, providing health insurance for professionals in the education, research, culture and communication, and related industries as well as individual health insurance products for companies and associations.
Today, MGEN manages hundreds of record types created by a wide range of business systems. But they got there by an archiving strategy that deals with one system at a time. Which means that each time they define the archiving strategy for a system, they also bring that system into compliance.
A Bottom-Up Approach to Archiving and Enterprise Records Management
The whole case study is here. But here is the summary.
MGEN wanted a new archiving solution, one that could manage terabytes of structured data in addition to millions of unstructured documents. But here’s the interesting part – they knew they could not implement a solution across the entire company all at once. They wanted a solution that would allow them to start small by connecting to one system, archiving the content and bringing it under records management policies, and then expanding to other systems over time.
This approach of starting with a single system and single set of record types (a record “series” if you are a records management professional) removes the need to inventory and analyze all record types across the organization before dealing with the most important records and systems.
For example, a system that is no longer in use but still in place because of the need to retain its content provides a great starting point. Retiring and decommissioning that system, while archiving and retaining its contents, means that one record type is brought into compliance and costs are reduced, providing funding for the next system and record series.
This is a bottom-up approach to records management, using archiving as the mechanism to bring record under retention policies and other records management requirements.
MGEN started with HR, archiving millions of older and inactive payslips and payroll reports. Once the payroll information was archived, it was deleted from the production system but could be easily imported back in if required. In their case, they keep payroll information available for ten years and archived for forty years, and the archive is searchable down to a specific person or date by business users with proper credentials.
With the successful implementation of that project, MGEN went on to extend the archiving solution to many other business systems, one system at a time. Now, several years later, their Everteam implementation supports hundreds of additional data types such as healthcare forms, management reports, and financial records from across the organization.
So now they have an enterprise records management system, but they got their by connecting to one system at a time, establishing an archiving schedule for that system and extracting the records into a centralized system. In other words, they did it with a bottom-up approach, not a top down strategy.
Start with Your Critical Systems First
MGEN’s story is important to understand. You can approach your records management implementation from the top and get stuck in the “paralysis of analysis” to get something in place. Or you can be like MGEN and take a bottom-up approach, tackling one system at a time. But where to start?
That part is pretty simple. Simply do a risk and cost assessment, and identify the content that presents the most regulatory risk and needs to be brought into compliance with records management policies and regulations urgently, while also looking for systems that have very high costs that could be reduced through an archiving strategy. Those systems while deliver the highest benefit at the lowest cost, and will get the project off to a very sound footing.
The benefits of the bottom-up approach are almost immediate. If you start with a system that presents high risk or avoidable costs, you get the biggest payback in terms of value, and you pave the path to the next system. And so on, and so on.
A bottom-up approach that using archiving as the enabler of records management is very effective. It certainly worked for MGEN. Read the whole story to find out more.
VP, Customer Success