The expanding role of records management: creating the foundation for effective and pro-active-discovery

Posted on October 31, 2011

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In today’s evolving workplace each department or ‘business unit’ is treated as its own individual business, with its own cost centre, overheads and profit targets. Although this is good for healthy profits and board level reporting, it can also be the cause of conflicting objectives and issues with inter-department communication.

A legal department for example needs a state of the art software solution to deal with a crucial litigation, while the IT department needs to reduce spend by 35% to justify a new server they believe to be more essential to the smooth running of the business.

IT departments understand Records Management (RM) and strive for good Knowledge Management (KM) as a strategic part of the business value, making their lives much easier. They do however not necessarily understand the value of an RM framework that also provides e-discovery. The crucial question here is: “Can they afford not to?”

The information referenced within a RM solution is vital to the business and their strategic use is freeing up staff from spending time ‘keeping the lights on’. Nevertheless, any effective RM solution must be multifaceted and have at least some level of robust search and e-discovery capabilities to be scalable, especially in the face of the myriad of growing regulations concerning information transparency, security and expectations for data archiving and retention.

Integrating Records Management, eDiscovery and Knowledge Management

Integrating a system that comprises a comprehensive search framework into an RM solution carries with it capabilities for better overall knowledge management. This type of highly efficient, integrative RM approach can lead to enhanced competitiveness, more agility to meet specific customer needs, minimized legal risks and, at the end of the day, higher profits.

A comprehensive records management solution, supported by enterprise search and advanced content analytics functionality, can lead to better overall knowledge management and optimized pro-active e-discovery capabilities, minimized legal risks and an enhanced profit potential.

In fact, e-discovery and its supporting functionalities serve as the critical pillars upon which true records management can be built. And it is only in this foundational context that a practical, compliant, and comprehensive enterprise-wide knowledge management solution can become fully actualized.

Benefits beyond risk aversion and legal preparedness

The importance of these concepts on a realistic market level should not just be viewed through the somewhat negative prism of risk aversion and legal preparedness, though. Rather, even though the primary motivator for many companies wanting to establish solid records management policies and systems comes from the need to avoid certain risks, the structural and procedural environment created from such an initiative not only creates a strong position with which to accomplish better overall knowledge management across the organization, but it typically provides a variety of additional positive byproducts, including more nimble and proactive customer service capabilities, an unencumbered environment for innovation, optimized maneuverability and preparedness in a rapidly shifting competitive marketplace and stronger positioning for long-term profitability.

Protecting reputation and brand

Another driver to act is being ‘seen’ to have good ethical and transparent working practices. In the current court of public opinion more business are concerned with reputation and brand, and the perception of doing things right. Without good policies and the right solutions to uphold these working practices then an organization falls short of meeting external expectations. This exposure to risk makes them a potential liability to other business partners, who may shy away from an association in today’s climate of risk aversion. Therefore, not only does this leave the organization open to risk, but also can prevent other companies from doing business with your organization, having a directly negative impact on profitability.

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