Business Records Archives Métier

File Remediation: What to do about business records

Last time, I covered the subject of ROT Content (Redundant, Obsolete and Trivial Content) – what is it and remediation is so important. There’s another major category of content to deal – Business Records.

Business records is content that fits established definitions like ISO 15489, ARMA, DoD 5015.2, NARA, etc. For example, ISO 15489 defines Business Records, or Records for short, as “information created, received, and maintained as evidence and information by an organization or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business.

Dealing with Business Records

Defining & Classifying Business Records

You must first identify Business Records as business records:

  • An Information Asset may become a record if it is published as a major version.
  • It may become a record when the business process in which it’s involved reaches a certain status, for example the signature of a contract or the completion of a work task.
  • Current state-of-the-art technology can assist in making that determination, however fully automating this task may require extensive integration with business processes.

Then you classify the Business Record:

  • It has to be associated with a Record Series (or a Record Class) as defined in the Corporate Retention Schedule.
  • This association identifies the business nature of the record.
  • This association also determines the lifecycle and disposition rules to be applied to the record.
  • Auto-classification technologies can assist in automating the classification process. However, the accuracy and thus the success rate of the auto-classification will greatly depend on the level of granularity of the Retention Schedule.
  • Schedules-based Big Bucket approaches (e.g. less than 100 entries) yield better results because the auto-classification engine has to differentiate between a few number of clearly distinguished buckets.

You then submit the Business Record to a System of Record:

  • The record is made immutable.
  • Its lifecycle is managed (event, duration, hold, etc.).
  • At the end of its lifecycle, it is disposed of. Depending on the requirement, the disposition action may be by destruction or via transfer to another system or entity.

End User Challenges Force the Need for File Analytics

Without the use of File Analysis tools, the first two tasks will be manual, requiring the involvement of end-users. Two decades of experience has shown end users hate to do this – probably an understatement. End users are simply not incented, interested, and unwilling to perform these tasks.

End user buy-in is a major source of friction and one of the main reasons why so many Records Management initiatives fail to deliver.
Improving the skill set of Records Managers, including their ability to communicate with IT, and improving the training of end users can help.

However, these measures do not address the most fundamental issues:

  • Users do not like classifying records
  • The volume of records is too high requiring additional records management resources. Yet, RM resources are being reduced due to a lack of perceived added-value.

Records Managers need to start thinking outside the box. They MUST seek solutions that take end-users out of the  equation. These solutions should incorporate File Analysis components that assist in the automation of the first two tasks and the insulation of end users from the demands of the records management function.