IBM Content Services Active Records & Information Management - enChoice Blog

IBM Content Services Active Records & Information Management

IBM Content Services Active Records & Information Management

Keeping Up with Evolving Demands


Content Lifecycle Management


How It Started

For those of us old enough to remember, the field of Records and Information Management (RIM) has evolved over the past few decades. I recall vividly first learning about the very practice of lifecycle governance while attending my first ARMA International annual conference. As a document imaging developer at the time, my singular focus had nearly always taken on the same basic pattern – capture, categorize and store some stuff into some repository.

It wasn't until I was immersed in the buzz of corporate malfeasance scandals and surrounded by the passionate, and incredibly loud, community of Records and Information Management (RIM) practitioners and thought leaders that I even considered what happens to content after it's made its way into the electronic repository. These were the beginnings of "electronic records management" as we've grown to know it today. The Enron scandal, as well as pending case law on electronic discovery, were both harbingers of the sea change about to hit the industry.


How It’s Going

Many scandals, data breaches, legislative and regulatory enactments later, we find ourselves in today's still-developing cross-section of multinational privacy regulations, internal compliance demands, and consumer-driven expectations of privacy and data stewardship. As some recent headlines seem to indicate, records management as a respected, authoritative corporate process still has a ways to go.

For those active RIM practitioners in today's reality, having to navigate the competing narratives of "preserve" vs. "destroy" is an all-too-common sanity straddle. On the one hand, you have retention requirements (duty to preserve), often driven by a confusing patchwork of statutory, federal/multinational or sector-specific rules. On the other hand, you must answer to customer data expungement requests. These requests also arise out of a web of burgeoning privacy regulations, but are underpinned by an overarching governing philosophy of minimization (right to be forgotten). This leads to what I like to call the BRO (Befuddled Records Officer) phenomenon. What's a BRO to do?

The answer lies somewhere between insanity and what we call active lifecycle management. What exactly does "active" mean? Well, pretty much what it sounds like! It means following through on your obligations to dispose of records under management when their disposition clock ticks down to zero. Sounds easy, I know. But many organizations aren't empowered with the discipline or confidence in their processes to go actually through with the "zap".


Content Conundrum

Despite the recent emergence of information architecture principles like privacy by design, oftentimes content lifecycle is an afterthought in the process of standing up and/or maintaining corporate enterprise content systems. This is a remnant of that old-school, electronic file cabinet mentality. Sometimes the problem of out-of-control content is exacerbated when a host content system acts as both an archival content store and a records repository. For example, if your Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system is hosting some "managed" content (documents that have been declared as records in your RIM program) and some "unmanaged", the latter is often completely excluded from lifecycle consideration, thus leaving it vulnerable to the same potential liabilities had it been an unmanaged record in the first place.

When you take an active approach to your records management, you are essentially freeing yourself from all these aforementioned paradoxes. You allow your baseline retention policy to do what it should be empowered to do:

  • Enforce retention rules (including legal hold), and
  • Orchestrate defensible disposition

Of course, there's a lot of planning and componentry that comprises these two high-level processes. But at the end of the day, your RIM program must have the corporate authority to act in accordance with your retention schedule – assuming you have one that is!

When this is in place, you can be confident that the minimum viable retention is being applied across all relevant records, and that content that may be subject to potential future requests to "be forgotten", will already have been zapped as part of your day-to-day process. If it hasn't been zapped, then there is a legal or regulatory basis for it that trumps the request. Life is good.

Where most organizations slip up is either on the accountability side of the house (nobody wants to sign off on actually destroying stuff), or on the technical challenges of implementing a mechanism that works and isn't a show-stopping burden to the lines-of-business.


Solving the Content Conundrum

IBM's flagship digital business automation canvas, FileNet, is handsomely equipped to be able to accommodate these requirements. From a records management standpoint, IBM Enterprise Records (IER) is a FileNet platform add-on that gives you a full suite of records management, reporting and enhanced audit functionality. Once you've worked out your corporate retention schedule and are satisfied that it checks all the legal and internal compliance boxes, you can import it into the system and configure repetitive, consistent, and event-driven disposition processes. You can configure sweeps on schedules, to go out and look for expired content. And finally, you can route work items to specific resources or entire teams for approval. As your definitive records management application, IER can model the management of both physical and electronic records, and even supports multiple data models (e.g., DoD 5015.2) and vital records.

If you’re not quite ready yet for the relatively heavy lift of something like IER, enChoice’s Content Lifecycle Management (CLM) for IBM FileNet P8 provides automated protection and destruction of regulated and non-regulated content in the FileNet P8 repository at the lowest possible resource requirement and cost, thus touting “Predictable Cost of Ownership”. CLM complements FileNet's basic retention functionality. Its embedded dashboard and reporting capabilities provide a configurable overview of all documents to be deleted and their retention settings. Retention periods can be assigned based on events, e.g., for contracts or invoices. Documents and even folders are deleted in a controlled and secure manner, in adherence to compliance guidelines, either manually or in automated batches. All deletions and modifications are logged for auditing purposes.



Have a question about Records Management or enChoice’s Content Lifecycle Management (CLM) solution? Please feel free to reach out to me using the form below.

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About the Author

Eugene Stakhov, CRM, CIP - Information Architect Eugene Stakhov, CRM, CIP
Senior Information Architect, enChoice

Gene is a Senior Information Architect at enChoice, Inc., with a technical background in software development. During his consulting-focused career, Gene has provided clients with expert guidance on matters ranging from enterprise taxonomy development to technical system implementation solutions in the Banking/Finance, Insurance, Healthcare and Utilities sectors. His work includes implementing a highly visible, complex email and electronic records management initiative to address the regulatory compliance challenges of a large utilities company. This solution won the IBM Innovation in Technology Award. Gene has been an ARMA member since 2005 and a perennial leader of the Metropolitan New York City-Long Island Chapter, ultimately shepherding it through the end of the tumultuous 2020 season at the helm as President. Along the way, he’s been recognized for his contributions on numerous occasions, including being honored with the Chapter Leader of the Year (2019-2020), Honored Member of the Year (2020-2021), and ARMA International’s Member of the Year (2019-2020) awards. He currently serves as Chapter Success Advisor for ARMA International’s Chapter Advisory Committee



About enChoice

Founded in 1993, enChoice®, Inc. is an award-winning Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Digital Transformation solutions company, with nearly 30 years of experience helping customers improve business processes and protect critical information with software and solutions that accelerate their path to digital efficiency.

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