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Records Management, Information Management, Knowledge Management or Content Management Software - what is you preference? - March 2003

Semantics, or is it?

In 1993 and after three years as a member of the Records Management of Australia “RMAA” and a committee member of the Western Australian “WA” Branch, I decided that my reducing micrographic income could be augmented by the sale of a records management “RM” software product so I took the plunge and became a reseller of RM software.

What it did do was to make me aware of how little I knew about records management and the advice I was giving to my microfilm/scanning bureau based clients on the indexing of jacket and aperture cards with limited functionality and allowed me to upgrade my skills in this area and also allowed me to provide an improved service to my client base at no additional cost to them.

Come imaging in 1990 with the release of the Canofile model CF250 and a forty (40) A4 page per minute scanner with the indexing matrix for filing documents on 5.25 inch 512 KB Magneto Optical Disks and we though we could solve everyone’s records management problems. How wrong can one be!

Was the Canon CF250 stand alone, proprietary, self contained with no networking, imaging system a failure? NO! It was a success. Not the success I envisaged when I was introduced to the product at its launch in 1990 where I committed myself to sell 1.5 units per months into Western Australia. Eight years later I had attained an installed base of only fourteen (14) units. At around $35,000.00 Australian at that time, in hindsight, one wonders how we achieved that result at all.

What was wrong with this and other stand alone proprietary imaging systems? 1. They could not talk to each other (in later versions they could); 2. They had limited indexing software and they did not possess good records management principles within that software. Very few people knew the questions let alone the answers.

In the late 1980’s I partnered with Wang in a proposal for a major imagining system here in Western Australia which was won by Kodak Australasia at $12.4 Million Australian (approximately $7 million imaging and hardware and $5.4 Million for software and its installation) and on attending a debriefing session and seeing how Kodak had handled the project we, myself and Wang realised that we did not know the questions let alone the answers.

Australian software creators have been at the forefront in the creation and marketing of records management software products since the late 1980 with such products as TRIM, RecFind and CARMS being successful at that early date. The three software products are still with us today, with at least two of the products being marketed heavily internationally with a high level of success. Even the Hummingbird suite of products uses an RM software module written in Sydney for use with the PC Docs document management software suite which is now part of the Hummingbird offerings.

If, as a bureau service provider you consider yourself to be at the upper level of understanding of records management software needs and applications in the field I would respectfully suggest that it may be in your best interest to take another look at that environment.

I believed back in 1990 that I had a good handle on what my clients requirements were in respect to records management and the indexing tools I was providing at the time. Boy, have I come a long way since those days of simplicity. RM applications and the software that support those applications are complex and becoming more so day by day with their integration with other whole of business applications.

If you have the need, desire and dedication to go down this track for greater enlightenment in this area of Records Management, Information Management, Knowledge Management or Content Management Software understanding, please take the ride, it will be thrilling.

Happy RMing!

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.