Records Management & Information Management, Perth and Western Australia

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The search for the elusive Records Management - Silver Bullet - July 2003

My brief for this publication is to report on things here in Australasia. This month I deviate from that brief. In a recent article published by the Green Sheet I posed the question “Is Records Management to be the next new Buzzword?” and I believe the answer to that question has been identified in an article titled “File under ‘NIGHTMARE’ Information overload has acquired a regulatory dimension, forcing senior executives to take notice” by Bob Violino, CFO IT to be found @ CFO Magazine

Why is this article from outside our normal sphere of influence so important to us in the Microfilm, Scanning and Records and Information Management industry? It is because as the article defines, senior executives are no longer yawning when records management is mentioned due to boredom, they are yawning due to lack of sleep either working on the issue or worrying about it.

The big boys in town are up and running. EMC the world’s largest storage management system supplier has as its fastest growing product line Centera which since 2002 sold the equivalent of 4 petabytes “PB” of records retention storage systems to their corporate and government clients. A petabyte equals either 1 quadrillion bytes or 1,125,899,906,842,624 bytes or 4 PB equals double the information stored at the USA’s Library of Congress. Is this another challenge to the micrographic industry? Probably! It is a critical time for the remaining small group of micrographic film suppliers to put on their thinking caps and come up with a digital microfilm solution rather than resting on their past glory in the analogue film world. Why not I ask? If as is commonly stated that microfilm lasts for 500 years [I personally have a major problem with this perception as often quoted but this can wait for an other outpouring] then why not dump digital data to 16 or 35 mm film for the long term archiving? My 2 cents worth.

Even though EMC and no doubt many others are joining the wagon trail and heading for the reefs of gold at the end of the rainbow, some, such as EMC have obviously hit pay dirt.

Is the implementation of Retention and Disposal the silver bullet to fix the lack records management success in the corporate and government environment? I think not!

The good management practice of addressing Retention and Disposal is but one part of the puzzle and in itself is not the king hit it is being touted to be. Yes, in some processes it is easy to implement e.g. order and invoice control and other process oriented activities, but in the real records management environment of uncontrolled data with human being providing “FREE TEXT” input to index the coming and going of emails, correspondence etc, ad infinitum it will not do the job unless we have a quality thesaurus and file classification terminology in place so that we can link to the retention and disposal schedules and do the job automatically.

Am I indicating that all is lost and that this movement of records management to the top of the heap in the eyes and consciousness of senior executives is a passing or an imposed fad? NO!

Quality records management is not a passing fad; it is the cream that until now has been swirling around in the mix of unidentified activities carried out in corporate and government organisations. As is always the case, the cream of the crop eventually rises to its position in the scheme of things and follows the rule, as in Darwin’s theory of natural selection and makes its mark in the hierarchy of things, and in this instance the business process.

Laurie Varendorff ARMA

The Author

Laurie Varendorff, ARMA, a former RMAA Western Australia Branch president and national director, has been involved in records management for 30 years. He has his own consulting and training business near Perth, Western Australia, and has tutored in recordkeeping and archival storage and preservation at Perth’s Edith Cowan University. Phone: +61 (0)8 9291 6925; mobile: 0417 094 147; email @ Laurie Varendorff

The author, Laurie Varendorff of the Varendorff Records Management Consultancy - TVC - Helping clients manage their e-World gives permission for the redistribution or republishing of this article by individuals and non profit professional organisations without cost based on the condition that he as well as the URL of the article are recognised at the introduction of the article when redistributed or republished.

SPECIAL NOTE: Use of this article by publishers, commercial, government, or educational organisations requires a financial agreement to be negotiated with Laurie as the copyright holder for this work.