Mike Padykula, CRM, is the Records Systems Manager for the Village of Wellington, FL, and a visionary in the records management space. I interviewed Mike to find out how new formats of organizational information are changing the current and future state of records management.
1. Records management is a well-established practice, but lately “information governance” has become the new buzzword. Is this term synonymous with records management, or does it reflect a change in the industry?
What “information governance” implies is a greater emphasis on the technical requirements of modern records management. To keep pace with new formats and methods of recordkeeping, records managers are starting to take on a lot of the characteristics traditionally held by IT. For example, records managers must find cost-effective solutions for the storage and classification problems that arise when handling large volumes of electronically stored information (ESI), or “big data” as people like to say. Within ESI, structured and unstructured information—including email—must be recorded.
However, a records manager still has a role that is distinct from IT and I would suggest that people be skeptical about replacing “records management” with “information governance” as a term. Rather, records managers are extending what they manage to include ESI—they’re not necessarily becoming IT people.
2. What kind of technological expertise do records managers need to handle these information governance challenges?
Today’s records managers need a strong understanding of digital document management. They can’t just run scanning departments anymore—they have to know about document formats, electronic filing, auto-classification and metadata application. Expertise in these areas allows records managers to efficiently contain the large amounts of electronic data flowing through their organizations.
Records managers must also be familiar with how discovery has changed. Federal rules of civil procedure have drastically changed how evidentiary documents are produced during litigation—they pose tremendous burdens on both sides of litigation. As a result, records managers have to know how to produce records for eDiscovery in a manner that is cost-effective and legally permissible. The best way to do this is through proactive preparation: consistent filing, metadata application and the other principles I mentioned earlier.
Thirdly, records managers have to know a lot about business process management. Records managers used to manage static inventories. Now, they’re managing documents that are in constant circulation throughout the organization. This is making records management more like process management. Again, this means records managers must be more proactive when it comes to putting systems and procedures in place.
3. What are the biggest challenges involved in records management?
In particular, legacy records and email pose the biggest challenge for records managers who want to cost-effectively organize company records. Many organizations have legacy ESI in email and backup servers that needs to be classified. This is creating a huge demand for auto-classification tools (and the experts who can administer them).
One way these types of tools work is through conditional probability. Algorithms look at a document based on its content and proceed to classify it based on terms, words and combinations of words. Once the content and context of the document are determined, the algorithm classifies it. The concept is straightforward but the complexity and variability of records makes it difficult to execute this type of approach consistently and accurately.
Overall, the challenge is volume. We have so much data to manage and it grows exponentially, making it harder to understand and classify. But without classification, you can’t manage records.
Mike Padykula will be speaking more on this subject at Empower 2015, January 13-16, in CS114: Aligning IT and Records Managers to Meet Challenges and Demands. Learn more about Empower 2015, the biggest Laserfiche networking event of the year, and register while there’s still time!