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Document and Records Management Still Lags

By Ericka Chickowski  |  Posted 2008-07-30 Print this article Print

A new study appears to point to the challenges of managing unstructured data, as in electronic document and records management, in the enterprise.

Enterprises are still struggling to manage their unstructured information effectively despite a high penetration rate of enterprise content management solutions, according to the results of a new study released by Butler Group last week.

Written by Butler Group analyst Sue Clarke, “Document and Records Management (DRM)” found that although ECM (also known as electronic document and records management, eDRM or simply DRM) has a market penetration rate of more than 80 percent, more than 40 percent of organizations plan to invest in new systems or expand their current toolset in the next two years.

“This means that many organizations that have already implemented DRM are considering deploying a different product, either because the first implementation was less than successful and did not provide the business benefits expected, or because their requirements have evolved and their current solution can no longer address their needs,” Clarke wrote in the report.

Many businesses initially chose DRM systems as point products to solve only one or two specific problems within the organization and failed to put in big-picture products that effectively manage all corporate unstructured data, which can add up to 80 percent of an organization’s data pool, according to the report.

To make deployment a success, business needs—more than IT needs—should power DRM implementation, Clarke told Baseline.

“DRM has to be driven by business requirements, rather than an IT need, to reduce storage,” she says. “It is only business executives and managers that understand the business requirements of the organization. It is vital that DRM is implemented to address the business requirements of an organization, or it will not deliver business value–[meaning] end-users will not buy into the system and will not use it, and it will not address the business issues faced by the organization.” 

Major drivers on the business side include information manageability and speed of information discovery, elimination of duplications and errors caused by ineffective versioning, and centralization for the purpose of data protection and disaster-recovery efforts, she says.

Clarke believes it is crucial that leaders on the business side work closely with technical staff throughout a DRM implementation to ensure their needs are adequately met.

“There are stages [in the DRM implementation model] that can only be carried out using business, rather than technical, expertise, such as building the file plan or classification system, and also deciding what legacy information needs to be imported into the DRM system,” she says. “These two tasks can be combined, and there are specialist classification solutions that can automate much of this process and save the organizations many months of manual labor. The selection of a suitable product to achieve this is an area where technical and non-technical executives must work together.”

 Additionally, she believes users must also be involved in order to minimize resistance to change.

“It can be difficult to persuade end users to adopt a new system, particularly if this involves changes to their business practices,” Clarke says. “It is important to consult with end users to see how they create, access, process and use information, and discuss how their current processes could be improved. If a user’s main contact with information is through a single application, then examine how a DRM system could be used seamlessly by the user and discuss where tasks could be automated. If end users believe that they have a real say in how the system is designed, they are more likely to embrace and use it once it is implemented.”  

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