The Significant Benefits of Document Imaging

by Frank 20. January 2020 12:24

 

 

We have all known for at least 30 years of the significant benefits of Document Imaging.

Document imaging or the scanning of paper documents to convert them to digital images, along with workflow, was the real beginning of office automation.

The advent of Document Imaging in the early 1980s did for office automation what barcodetechnology did for physical records management and asset management. It allowed manual processes to be automated and improved; it provided tangible and measurable productivity improvements and as well as demonstrably better access to information for the then fledgling knowledge worker.

However, over 30 years later, we have a paradox where we all take document imaging for granted but, we still don’t utilize it to anything like its full capabilities. Most organizations use document scanners of one kind or another, usually on multi-function-devices, but we still don’t appear to use document scanning nearly enough to automate time-consuming and often critical business processes.

I don’t really know why we are not utilizing document scanning more widely because it obviously isn’t a matter of lacking the tools; we have every type of document scanner imaginable and every type of document scanning software conceivable.  The struggling knowledge workers of 30 years ago would be ecstatic with the options available today.

We just seem to be stuck in first gear or, maybe we just are not applying enough thought to analyzing our day to day business processes.

Business Processes Management based on the circulation of paper documents in 2020 is archaic, wasteful, inefficient and highly prone to error. Yet, many organizations I deal with still have critical business processes based on the circulation of paper. How incredibly careless and dangerous is that?

Let’s look at the benefits at the most basic level: 

  • How many people can read a paper document at any one point in time? The answer is one and one only.
  • How many people can look at a digital image of a document at any one point in time? The answer is as many as need to.
  • How hard is it to lose or damage a paper document? The answer is it is really, really easy to lose of damage or deface a paper document.
  • How hard is it to lose or damage or deface or even change a secure digital copy of a document? The answer is it is almost impossible in a well-managed document management system.

So why are we still circulating paper documents to support critical business processes? Why aren’t we simply digitizing these important paper documents and making the business process infinitely faster and more secure? For the life of me, I can’t think of a single valid reason for not digitizing important paper documents. The technology is readily available with oodles of choice and it isn’t difficult to use, it isn’t expensive. In fact, digitizing paper will always save you time and money.

So why do I still see so many organizations large and small still relying on the circulation of paper documents to support important business processes? Is it a lack of thought or a lack of imagination or a lack of education? Can it really be true that more than thirty-years after the beginning of the office automation revolution we still have tens of thousands or even millions of knowledge workers with little knowledge of or access to, basic office automation?

In a world awash in technology like computers, laptops, iPhones and iPads how can we be so terribly ignorant of the application and benefits of such a basic and proven technology as document imaging?

In my experience, some of the worst example can be found in large financial organizations like banks and insurance companies. The public perception is that banks are right up there with the latest technology and most people look at examples like banking and payment systems on smartphones as examples of that. But, go behind the front office to the back office and you will usually see a very different world; a world of paper and manual processes, many on the IT department’s ‘backlog’ of things to attend to, eventually.

The message is a simple one. If you have business processes based on the circulation of paper, you are inefficient and are wasting money and the time of your staff and customers. You are also taking risks with the integrity of your data and your customer’s data.

Please do everyone a favor and look carefully at the application of document imaging, a well-proven, affordable, easy to implement and easy to manage business process automation tool.

 

Why aren’t you managing your emails?

by Frank 16. January 2020 15:08

  

Emails long ago evolved to be around about eighty-percent plus of business correspondence. Most records managers also realize that most of us aren’t managing emails well and that this has left a potentially lethal compliance and legal hole to plug.

I have written numerous papers and posts on the need to manage emails, such as:

The need to manage emails differently to paper;

Managing Emails, how hard can it be?;

I am willing to bet you are still not managing your emails effectively;

How to simplify Electronic Document & Email Management;

Why are your staff still manually capturing & classifying electronic documents & emails?

The need to manage Emails?;

Six reasons why organizations do not manage Emails effectively;

When I review them today, they are just as relevant as they were years ago. That is to say, despite the plethora of email management tools now available, many organizations still do not manage their emails effectively or completely.

The Manual Model

As an recent example we had an inquiry from the records manager at a US law firm who said she needed an email management solution but it had to be a ‘manual’ one where each worker would decide if and when and how to capture and save important emails into the records management system.  She went on to state emphatically that under no circumstances would she consider any kind of automatic email management solution.

We have to provide multiple options, such as GEM and the Button, because that is what the market demands but it is common sense that any manual system cannot be a complete or consistent solution. If you leave it up to the discretion of the end user to decide which emails to capture and how to capture them, then you will inevitably have an incomplete and inconsistent store of emails.  Worse still, you will have no safeguards against fraudulent or dishonest behavior.

Human beings are, by definition, ‘human’ and not perfect. We are by nature inconsistent in our behavior on a day to day basis; we forget things and sometimes we make mistakes. We are not robots or cyborgs and consistent, perfect behavior is beyond us.

As humans, we cannot be trusted to always analyze, capture and classify emails in a one-hundred percent consistent manner.

The problem is exacerbated manifold when we have hundreds or even thousands of inconsistent humans (your staff) all being relied upon to behave in an entirely uniform and consistent manner. It is ludicrous to expect entirely uniform and consistent behavior from your staff and it is bad practice and just plain foolish to roll out an email management system based on this false premise. It will never meet expectations. It will never plug all the compliance and legal holes and you will remain exposed no matter how much money you throw at the problem (e.g., training, training and re-training).

The Automatic Model

The only complete solution is one based on a fully-automatic rules or AI driven model whereby all incoming and outgoing emails are analyzed at the email server level according to a set of business rules tailored to your specific needs. This is the only way to ensure that nothing gets missed. It is the only way to ensure that you are in fact plugging all the compliance and legal holes and removing exposure and risk.

The fully automatic option is also the most cost-effective by a huge margin.

The manual approach requires each and every staff member to spend (waste?) valuable time every single day trying to decide which emails to capture and then actually going through the process time and time again. It also requires some form of a license per employee or per desktop. This license has a cost and it also has to be maintained, again at a cost.

The automatic approach doesn’t require the employee to do anything except know how to search for emails in your EDRMS. It also doesn’t require a license per employee or desktop because the software runs in the background talking directly to your email server. It is a low cost, low impact and asynchronous solution.

The automatic model increases productivity and lowers costs. It also provides a complete and entirely consistent email management solution and at a significantly lower cost than any ‘manual’ model. So, why is it so hard to convince some records managers and /or business owners to go with the fully automatic solution?

Who Decides?

This is not a decision that should be left up to the records manager. Emails are the business of all parts of any organization; they don’t just ‘belong’ to the records management department. Emails are an important part of most business processes particularly those involving clients and suppliers and regulators. That is, the most sensitive parts of your business. The duty to manage emails transects all vertical boundaries within any organization. The need is there in accounts and marketing and engineering and in support and in every department.

The decision on how to manage emails should be taken by the CEO or at the very least, the CIO with full cognizance of the risks to the enterprise of not managing emails in a one-hundred percent consistent and complete manner.

Its Risk Management

In the end email management isn’t in fact about email management, it is about risk management. If you don’t understand that and if you don’t make the necessary decisions at the top of your organization, you are bound to suffer the consequences in the future.

Are you going to wait for the first lawsuit or punitive fine before taking action?

Records Management System or Information Management System?

by Frank 7. January 2020 14:02

How to manage the process via Natural Language

We have a large number of customers using our product RecFind 6 as a Records Management System and with new customers, the question always arises about how to best organize information in the RecFind 6 database to make it as easy as possible to manage and access. As the Metadata, Data Model and Business Processes in RecFind 6 are 100% configurable, every customer ends up with a unique configuration. As well as managing records, the end result also needs to be an Information Management System.

There is no one-solution that suits all. Some records managers want the shared drives structure replicated in the database. Some want everything filed under a strict hierarchical classification system or Taxonomy. Some IT Managers want the whole process simplified so end users clearly know where to file stuff and where to find stuff. Different managers in a single customer site will often disagree about how the information should be managed. It is usually up to us to come up with an agreed and workable compromise. There is no “one size fits all” paradigm here.

Whereas I fully support the principles behind most EDRMS standards (like ISO 15489) I also find myself agreeing with most end users who just want the whole process simplified and expressed in natural language, not as an arcane, complex, inconsistent and difficult to navigate hierarchical classification system.

The way you classify information should not dictate how you store, manage and retrieve information.

I have written a paper of this exact subject and although now somewhat old, it is still 100% relevant. You don’t need to agree with me, but please try to understand the message. End users want easy, fast access, not time-consuming complexity.

Let me tell you we solve the problem at Knowledgeone Corporation and manage our emails, electronic documents and shared drives with a hybrid system. We utilize a combination of RecFind 6 and shared drives. This is also a model we regularly recommend to our customers as an acceptable compromise; one that is simple to implement and one that always works.

I am a big fan of making information as easy as possible to capture and as easy as possible to retrieve (eDiscovery). This is especially important to the long-suffering end-user class who have no interest in becoming part-time records managers and who simply won’t use a system if it is too difficult to use and too time-consuming.

The biggest problem with complex, hierarchical classification systems is that no two people file the same way and even a single user will often file things differently over time. This in itself makes the act of finding something by browsing through a classification hierarchy a hit and miss affair.

At Knowledgeone Corporation, we implemented a hybrid model that uses a simply structured shared drive resource plus automated tools to ensure everything that should be captured is captured. This approach is also all about separating the functionality of the Authoring packages (e.g., Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.) from the functionality of the EDRMS. They have different roles to play.

We use our product GEM to automatically capture all work related emails and we use our product RecCapture to automatically capture all work-related electronic documents from our shared drives. We all use a common shared drive structure to write and store our original electronic documents.

We don’t use what you would call a formal taxonomy, we use what I call a ‘natural’ classification system. For us this means a classification system that perfectly reflects our business practices, processes and vocabulary. In our case, we are customer-centric so everything (apart from a little administrative and supplier stuff) is organized in customer or prospect folders and the lower levels are minimal, being things like Correspondence, Quotes and Orders.

The structure of our RecFind 6 database is mostly based on customer and prospect files; our Records Management System is also our CRM. Customers and prospective customers are our core business just as members and cases are the core business of unions. Every industry has a core business and, in my mind, this should always be reflected in the classification system used so that it perfectly aligns with the work practices, processes and ‘language’ of most staff. Whenever I consult with a new customer, I always try to first determine its core business and its natural language and then design the system around these.

Because we are customer centric, I need to be able to see everything about any customer or prospect in one place. For us this means focusing on the Entity record (the Entity table is where we store the basic information on each customer or prospect organization). As RecFind 6 is a relational database, we then store all related information in linked tables, all linked to and accessible from the Entity record with a single click.

Ease of Access for eDiscovery

In our RecFind 6 system, every piece of information I need to refer to is just one-click away once I view the customer’s entity record. Once I select the customer record, everything thing else I need to know is just one-click away and all links are viewable in a single screen.

We have configured our RecFind 6 security system around our management structure and that works fine for us. As a Director for example, most of the stuff I save (e.g., a letter, email or quote to a customer) is with a basic security code because everyone needs to be able to see it. However, as a Director I also have the right to save things with higher levels of security, e.g., Manager Director, with appropriate restricted access. Like all good security systems, it is simple but effective.

Our searching is also structured the same way. We have configured RecFind 6 to add the objects we need to search on as menu items in the search function just as we would do for any customer. We therefore have a Metadata search menu of Attachments (electronic documents, emails and images), Entities (Customers, Prospects, Partners and Suppliers), People, Incidents, Bugs, Quotes, Invoices, Timesheets, Support agreements, etc. We repeat this with Boolean searches. We make it as easy as possible and as logical as possible so our staff can find anything as fast as possible.

Most importantly, we provide multiple entry-points for searches. I can for example search directly for emails with a Metadata search, searching by a combination of Sender, Recipient, Date, Subject, Content, etc. Alternatively, I can search for customer emails from within the Entity record just by clicking on a single link for all emails and electronic documents for that customer.

You can search on any field and different classes of users can have different Metadata to both view and search on. The security system determines what each class of user (Security Group) can both see and then do with the information they can see. The members of each Security Group see only what they need to see and have only the functionality they need to get the job done

Following the above hybrid approach also means that you can still implement and manage all the recordkeeping principles such as retention and disposal schedules, location tracking, auditing, etc.

My point is that it is possible to meet the needs of all groups of users without frustrating any single group.  It just requires a hybrid approach and the configuration of the system to suit each class of user.

Making everyone happy is a lot better than making some people happy and some people unhappy. Why would you make users unhappy if you had a choice? Any Records Management System should also be an easy to use Information Management System.

 

The Records Management Standard ISO 15489 and Wikipedia as a handy reference for Records Managers

by Frank 16. December 2019 10:49

Whereas all records managers would be aware of the ISO Standard 15489, few have access to the full document because it is a proprietary and costly item.  Wherever possible, we encourage records managers to submit a request to management to secure a copy of this valuable standard.

However, if that is not possible there is a reasonably comprehensive description of the records management process on Wikipedia that all records managers can reference for free. We encourage you to access and study this reference material. It is especially relevant to those people just entering this profession.

Please see the following links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Records_management

Contents

·        1Concepts of record

·        2Key records management terminology

·        3Records management theory

o   3.1Records life-cycle

o   3.2Records continuum theory

·        4Records management practices and concepts

o   4.1Defensible solutions

o   4.2Classification

§  4.2.1Enterprise records

§  4.2.2Industry records

§  4.2.3Legal hold records

o   4.3Records retention schedule

·        5Managing physical records

·        6Managing digital records

·        7Current issues

·        8Education and certification

·        9Electronic records management systems

o   9.1Commercial records centers

·        10See also

·        11References

·        12External links

As with all Wikipedia articles, you may not agree 100% with the content. However, as an overview and reference we find this article to be of value.

We sincerely hope that you find this information useful.

Do you have a Heavy-Duty, Complex, Special or Unusual Records, Document or Information Management requirement?

by Frank 13. December 2019 10:10

 

Is your Heavy-Duty Records, Document or Information Management requirement out-of-the-ordinary and does it have special or unusual requirements for business process management, integrations with legacy systems or unusually high users counts or unusually large database sizes that ‘standard’ EDRM or ECM systems aren’t equipped to handle?

If so, we have the answer with the RecFind 6 Product Suite; the big brother to RF6Cloud (RF6-RM and RF6-EDRMS).

Whereas RF6-RM and RF6-EDRMS are based on RecFind 6 they have been designed for small to medium enterprises to make it as easy and as low cost as possible to roll out and manage a records and document management solution in the Cloud. As such they suit most ‘standard’ requirements.

The RecFind 6 Product Suite, by comparison, was designed to handle any RM or EDRMS or Information Management requirement regardless of the ‘difficulties’ entailed.

  1. RecFind 6 has no limit on the size of the database other than the maximum size of SQL Server, 524 Petabytes.
  2. RecFind 6 has no limit on the number of users.
  3. RecFind 6 has been optimized for the rapid upload and download of large electronic documents.
  4. RecFind 6 comes with a standard set of integration tools that makes it as easy as possible to import data from any data source and to integrate to any other system including legacy systems, even mainframe systems.
  5. RecFind 6 is ultimately configurable to the client’s exact requirements including the data model, Metadata and any business process.
  6. The RecFind 6 relational database is designed and optimised for flat search times and can capture, index and manage data of any type including any kind of digital asset.
  7. RecFind 6 comes with an optional standard SharePoint integration module.
  8. RecFind 6 comes with an optional API/SDK.
  9. RecFind 6 comes with an optional eDocArchiving module that makes it as easy as possible to move non-current electronic documents to second level storage but still have access to them from the standard client.
  10. RecFind 6 comes with an optional High-Speed Document Scanning module that automates the digitisation of paper for organizations with large amounts of paper documents to capture.
  11. RecFind 6 comes with optional fully automated electronic document and email management tools that totally automate the analysis, capture, indexing and classification processes.

In short, RecFind 6 is the perfect and complete solution for any large scale, complex records, document or information management requirement. It can be configured to your exact requirements and it can handle any task, no matter how complex.

We have existing customers that successfully utilize the RecFind 6 Product Suite to manage a range of ‘difficult’ and ‘unusual’ applications such as:

  • Mortgage Application processing in a large bank
  • Securities and Vault management in a large bank
  • Contract and Intellectual Property management in a large media organization
  • A Vaccination Register for a state health department
  • The capture, conversion and integration of a large number of disparate (e.g., Access, Excel) databases located in multiple states and countries to provide a single, secure and standardised point of reference system

If you would like us to analyse your ECM requirement and prepare a report, with no obligation, please complete our online Needs Analysis Survey or if you requirement is outside of the ECM sphere please contact us direct and explain what it is you need to be accomplished.

We look forward to being of service.

15 Compelling reasons to store ALL your information in RecFind 6

by Frank 4. December 2019 12:02

1.    Security of Information

All information, including Metadata, electronic documents and images, is stored in the RecFind 6 Microsoft SQL Server Database, not in insecure flat file systems. In addition, all electronic documents and images are stored as binaries (Blobs) in SQL Server, not native format; they are doubly secure.

The only way anyone can access your data is via the secure RecFind 6 client where access is protected by our industrial strength security system. No one has access to your information unless you authorize it. Plus, the fully customizable Audit Trail means you can track every transaction.

Don’t store your information on insecure shared drives or in insecure applications like Excel or Access; RecFind 6 is the far more secure solution.

Concerned about security, concerned about GDPR? Then store all your information in RecFind 6.

2.    Size of your Data Store, Scalability

The only size restriction for RecFind 6 is the maximum size of a MS SQL Server Database and that is currently 524 PB (Petabyte), 524 thousand billion bytes of information and likely to increase in future versions of SQL Server.

If you are concerned about a system being able to manage all of your data and handle future growth, then store all your information in RecFind 6.

3.    Performance, time to Capture & time to Search

The architecture of RecFind 6 has been optimized for electronic document and image capture (upload), search and download. Upload and download times are also independent of the size of your database.

If you plan on having a large number of users and a large data store and are concerned about performance, then store all your information in RecFind 6.

4.    Full-text Indexing

All textual data stored in RecFind 6 is automatically full-text indexed to facilitate optimum search results. This includes emails, OCR’d images, all documents containing text, and all entered Metadata.

If you need extremely fast and accurate text searches of your data, then store all your information in RecFind 6.

5.    Versioning of electronic documents

All electronic documents stored in RecFind 6 are automatically versioned when captured.

If maintaining an accurate record of all electronic document versions is important to you, then store all your information in RecFind 6.

6.    Reliability, Availability

RecFind 6 is renowned for its robustness and high availability. Situations where a code failure has made RecFind 6 unavailable to users are rarer than hen’s teeth. RecFind 6 runs and does what it says  on the box, day in and day out for 12 months a year.

If reliability and availability is important to you, then store all your information in RecFind 6.

7.    Microsoft Compatibility

All new versions of RecFind 6 are tested against the latest releases of Microsoft products including Windows Desktop, Windows Server, SQL Server and Office. We protect your investment in our products by ensuring that they continue to work in your chosen Microsoft environment.

If ongoing compatibility with Microsoft is a concern, then store all your information in RecFind 6.

8.    Support

We don’t have complicated, multi-tier plans for support; we address each support request as soon as it is received. Support is also FREE to all customers under a current maintenance agreement. We are rightfully renowned for the quality of our support service. Plus, all support is handled by our employees; we DO NOT OUTSOURCE support.

If high quality support is important to you, then store all your information in RecFind 6.

9.    Flexible Licensing & Pricing

We offer multiple licensing & pricing plans including In-Perpetuity, Annual, Subscription, Hosted (SaaS), Not-For-Profit, Site & Organization licenses. Plus, we will work with you to structure a plan to suit your unique needs.

If flexible licensing & pricing plans are important to you, then store all your information in RecFind 6.

10.         Dealing with the owner of the Intellectual Property (IP)

We designed and built the very first RecFind in 1986 and have designed and built every version since then. Please refer to our history of product development. When you deal with us you are dealing with the owners and developers, not a reseller or licensee. No one knows our products better than we do.

If it is important to you to deal with the experts, then store all your information in RecFind 6.

11.         The need to store multiple types of electronic documents & digital assets

RecFind 6 stores and manages any kind of electronic document including emails, plans, CAD drawings plus any kind and size of digital asset. It has been optimized to handle very large digital objects.

If you need to capture and manage any kind and any size of electronic document, then store all your information in RecFind 6.

12.         Unlimited users, Scalability

RecFind 6 can be delivered with a single user license or an unlimited user license and any number of users in between. Its unique architecture is able to support any number of users. The only prerequisite is that you provide adequate server hardware to meet your requirements. There are no inbuilt restrictions in RecFind 6 for either users or the size of the data store.

If you need to support a large number of users, then store all your information in RecFind 6.

13.         Accessibility

The RecFind 6 Web Client provides secure access to your data from anywhere in the world there is an Internet connection and from a variety of browsers and devices including the iPad.

If remote and convenient access is a requirement, then store all your information in RecFind 6.

14.         Ease of Configuration, Flexibility

The RecFind 6 DRM tool, supplied free of charge, makes it easy for you to modify RecFind 6 (Data Model, Business Process, Metadata, Security System, etc.) without ever having to contact us or pay for changes and still have a standard product.

If you have a need to modify your information management solution to your exact and changing requirements, then store all of your information in RecFind 6.

15.         Ease of Integration to other systems

The RecFind 6 Product Suite includes multiple tools to make integration to any other system or data source as quick and as easy as possible. These tools include the DRM, Xchange, The SharePoint Integration Module, the MINI API and the SDK/API.

If you have a need to integrate to other systems and to import data from a variety of data sources, then store all of your information in RecFind 6.

 

Why RF6Cloud is the lowest cost and easiest way to solve any Content Management need

by Frank 8. December 2017 06:01

Why is RF6Cloud such a big improvement on the old Enterprise Content Management, Records Management, Document Management paradigm?

The Old Model

As Knowledgeone Corporation, we have worked with the old model since 1986. Big upfront software costs, big annual software maintenance costs, expensive computer hardware and software, extensive and expensive consultancy and training programs, expensive IT support.  Yes, it worked but it was and is very expensive and it takes a very long time.

The New Model

As RF6Cloud, our new company and new paradigm, we set out to change and disrupt the industry. The same end result but a much faster, much less invasive and much less expensive process to get there.

What you don’t need with RF6Cloud

Because we host the solution ‘In the Cloud’ you don’t need expensive servers and software. Because we run and maintain everything, including taking your backups, you don’t need IT people. Because we provide a pre-configured solution and an easy way for you to upload all your data and standards you don’t need weeks or months of expensive consulting.

Because we have created a whole series of online training courses on our YouTube channel plus detailed online help you don’t need weeks of onsite training courses.

Free Support

You also won’t get any ‘do not reply’ emails from us either and you don’t need to spend hours on our website trying to find our how to contact us. Just click on Contact Us and ask your question. We respond to each and every contact. We welcome your input and questions. We look forward to hearing from you. Online support is free.

Management Console & Dashboard

We also provide you with a management console and dashboard so you are always in control of your app.

A single low-cost monthly subscription

A complete, secure, scalable and robust solution for just a few dollars per month per user. There is nothing else to pay.

“Much less than the average employee spends on coffee each month.”

A no-obligation free one-month trial

If you are still nervous, sign up for our one-month free trial. It’s the full solution and you get full service during the trial. Please put us to the test, we are happy to accept your challenge.

It’s your Data

If you decide not to proceed after the trial, we promise to delete all of your data and if required, even provide you with a backup before deleting your data. The same goes for any time in the future should you decide for any reason to cancel your subscription. We will provide you with a full backup of your data before deleting it. That is a guarantee.

Still have questions?

Please ask away Contact Us

 

 

The absolute easiest & lowest cost way to meet all Electronic Document & Records Management (EDRMS) requirements?

by Frank 19. May 2015 06:00

Because we are a software vendor that builds and markets a range of Enterprise Content Management tools under the RecFind 6 banner I have often been asked, “What is the absolute easiest and lowest cost way to meet all compliance requirements?”

I usually respond with a well-considered and ‘traditional’ response that includes information about Business Classification Systems, UI design, Retention Schedules, etc., etc. The solution proposed would also require a significant degree of consulting so that we aware entirely conversant with the customer’s requirements and business practices and also involve a significant amount of end user training.

This is what the customer expects and it falls in line with the traditional, professional approach.

However, the final solution is rarely ‘easy’ or ‘low-cost’ primarily because it has followed the traditional approach. The more we ask questions and consult and the more people we speak to the more complex the solution becomes. This is normal because we end up trying to configure a solution to meet hundreds or thousands of variables.

There is an easier and lower cost way but I fear that very few of my customers would ever consider it because it requires them to disregard everything they have ever learned about rolling out an EDRMS. We have tried proposing it a few times but never with success. It usually gets shot down by the external consultant or the internal records management professional or both.

It doesn’t require a BCS or a Taxonomy and it doesn’t require a complex Retention Schedule and it doesn’t require significant consulting or significant end-user training. Records Management professionals will surely hate it as a ‘career-ending’ trend. It does require an open mind, the ability to think laterally and a willingness to redefine both the problem and the solution.

It only has three requirements:

  1. Know what electronic documents and emails you don’t want to capture;
  2. Provide a powerful but easy-to-use search that allows anyone to find anything instantly; and
  3. Employ a risk-management approach to retention and select a single retention date (e.g., 7 or 20 years).

Fundamental to the success of this non-conformist solution is the acceptance that computers and storage are dirt-cheap compared to human time. If your IT manager or CIO still agonizes and complains about how much disk space you use up for emails and electronic documents then this is definitely not the solution for you. Your IT hierarchy is still living in the long-gone past when computers and disk were expensive and people were cheap (by comparison).

However, if you have practical, sensible IT people then the approach is worth considering especially if your organization has a long history of failing to digitize its records and automate its processes. That is, you have tried at least once to roll out an organization-wide EDRMS and have failed and/or blown the budget. The word ‘pilot’ probably appears often in your company history usually prefixed by the adjective ‘failed’. Don’t feel too bad, most pilots are initiated because management lacks conviction. They are therefore destined to fail.

We have the tools required to implement such a solution but I won’t go into detail about them now. This is a concept paper, not a detailed instruction manual. If you are interested in the concept please contact me and I can then elaborate.

So, if you really do want to rollout a successful EDRMS and do it in the fastest and least disruptive and lowest cost way possible then please write to me and pose your questions.

For the doubters, this is the same way we manage our electronic documents and emails at Knowledgeone Corporation and we have done so for many years. We use our own software; apart from a couple of accounting packages we run our whole company with the RecFind 6 Product Suite and totally automate the capture of all electronic documents and emails. All my staff have to know is how to search and yes, they can find anything in seconds even after 31 years of operation and a very, very large database.

It is not difficult, it is not ‘expensive’, it does not require a huge amount of management or maintenance time and it runs largely in the background. As I said above, all your staff have to learn is how to search.

It does however, require an open mind and a desire to finally solve the problem in the most expeditious manner possible. But, please don’t tell me you want to run a pilot. Test my solution by all means and put it through the most vigorous change control procedures but don’t damn the end result by beginning with a “we are not really sure it will work so are not really committed and won’t allocate much of a budget but let’s try a pilot anyway because that limits our exposure and risk” approach.

I don’t want to waste your time or mine.

How to clean up your shared drives, Frank’s approach

by Frank 22. August 2014 06:00

In my time in this business (enterprise content management, records management, document management, etc.) I have been asked to help with a ‘shared drive problem’ more times than I can remember. This particular issue is analogous with the paperless office problem. Thirty years ago when I started my company I naively thought that both problems would be long gone by now but they are not.

I still get requests for purely physical records management solutions and I still get requests to assist customers in sorting out their shared drives problems.

The tools and procedures to solve both problems have been around for a long time but for whatever reason (I suspect lack of management focus) the problems still persist and could be described as systemic across most industry segments.

Yes, I know that you can implement an electronic document and records management system (we have one called RecFind 6) and take away the need for shared drives and physical records management systems completely but most organizations don’t and most organizations still struggle with shared drives and physical records. This post addresses the reality.

Unfortunately, the most important ingredient in any solution is ‘ownership’ and that is as hard to find as it ever was. Someone with authority, or someone who is prepared to assume authority, needs to take ownership of the problem in a benevolent dictator way and just steam-roll a solution through the enterprise. It isn’t solvable by committees and it requires a committed, driven person to make it happen. These kind of people are in short supply so if you don’t have one, bring one in.

In a nutshell there are three basic problems apart from ownership of the problem.

1.     How to delete all redundant information;

2.     How to structure the ‘new’ shared drives; and

3.     How to make the new system work to most people’s satisfaction.

Deleting redundant Information

Rule number one is don’t ever ask staff to delete the information they regard as redundant. It will never happen. Instead, tell staff that you will delete all documents in your shared drives with a created or last updated date greater than a nominated date (say one-year into the past) unless they tell you specifically which ‘older’ documents they need to retain. Just saying “all of them” is not an acceptable response. Give staff advance notice of a month and then delete everything that has not been nominated as important enough to retain.  Of course, take a backup of everything before you delete, just in case. This is tough love, not stupidity.

Structuring the new shared drives

If your records manager insists on using your already overly complex, hierarchical corporate classification scheme or taxonomy as the model for the new shared drive structure politely ask them to look for another job. Do you want this to work or not?

Records managers and archivists and librarians (and scientists) understand and love complex classification systems. However, end users don’t understand them, don’t like them and won’t use them. End users have no wish to become part-time records managers, they have their own work to do thank you.

By all means make the new structure a subset of the classification system, major headings only and no more than two levels if possible. If it takes longer than a few seconds to decide where to save something or to find something then it is too complex. If three people save the same document in three different places then it is too complex. If a senior manager can’t find something instantly then it is too complex. The staff aren’t to blame, you are.

I have written about this issue previously and you can reference a white paper at this link, “Do you really need a Taxonomy?”

The shared drives aren’t where we classify documents, it is where we make it as easy and as fast as possible to save, retrieve and work on documents; no more, no less. Proper classification (if I can use that term) happens later when you use intelligent software to automatically capture, analyse and store documents in your document management system.

Please note, shared drives are not a document management system and a document management system should never just be a copy of your shared drives. They have different jobs to do.

Making the new system work

Let’s fall back on one of the oldest acronyms in business, KISS, “Keep It Simple Stupid!” Simple is good and elegant, complex is bad and unfathomable.

Testing is a good example of where the KISS principle must be applied. Asking all staff to participate in the testing process may be diplomatic but it is also suicidal. You need to select your testers. You need to pick a small number of smart people from all levels of your organization. Don’t ask for volunteers, you will get the wrong people applying. Do you want participants who are committed to the system working, or those who are committed to it failing? Do you want this to succeed or not?

If I am pressed for time I use what I call the straight-line-method. Imagine all staff in a straight line from the most junior to the most senior. Select from both ends, the most junior and the most senior. Chances are that if the system works for this subset that it will also work for all the staff in between.

Make it clear to all that the shared drives are not your document management system. The shared drives are there for ease of access and to work on documents. The document management system has business rules to ensure that you have inviolate copies of important documents plus all relevant contextual information. The document management system is where you apply business rules and workflow. The document management system is all about business process management and compliance. The shared drives and the document management system are related and integrated but they have different jobs to do.

We have shared drives so staff don’t work on documents on ‘private’ drives, inaccessible and invisible to others. We provide a shared drive resource so staff can collaborate and share information and easily work on documents. We have shared drives so that when someone leaves we still have all their documents and work-in-process.

Please do all the complex processes required in your document management system using intelligent software, automate as much as possible. Productivity gains come about when you take work off staff, not when you load them up with more work. Give your staff as much time as possible so they can use their expertise to do the core job they were hired for.

If you don’t force extra work on your staff and if you make it as easy and as fast as possible to use the shared drives then your system will work. Do the opposite and I guarantee it will not work.

What is the future of RecFind? - The Product Road Map

by Frank 19. May 2014 06:00

First a little history. We began in 1984 with our first document management application called DocFind marketed by the then Burroughs Corporation (now called Unisys). In June 1986 we sold the first version of RecFind, a fully-featured electronic records management system and a vast improvement on the DocFind product. Then we progressively added document imaging then electronic document management and workflow and then with RecFind 6 a brand new paradigm and an amalgam of all previous functionality; an Information management system able to run multiple applications concurrently with a complete set of enterprise content management functionality. RecFind 6 is the eighth completely new iteration of the iconic RecFind brand.

RecFind 6 was and is unique in our industry because it was designed to be what was previously called a Rapid Application Development system (RAD) but unlike previous examples, we provided the high level toolset so new applications could be inexpensively ‘configured’ (by using the DRM) not expensively programmed and new application tables and fields easily populated using Xchange. It immediately provided every customer with the ability to change almost anything they needed changed without needing to deal with the vendor (us).  Each customer had the same tools we used to configure multiple applications within a single copy of RecFind 6. RecFind 6 was the first ECM product to truly empower the customer and to release them from the expensive and time consuming process of having to negotiate with the vendor to “make changes and get things done.”

In essence, the future of the RecFind brand can be summarised as more of the same but as an even easier to use and more powerful product. Architecturally, we are moving away from the fat-client model (in our case based on the .NET smart-client paradigm) to the zero-footprint, thin-client model to reduce installation and maintenance costs and to support far more operating system platforms than just Microsoft Windows. The new version 2.6 web-client for instance happily runs on my iPad within the Safari browser and provides me with all the information I need on my customers when I travel or work from home (we use RecFind 6 as our Customer Relationship Management system or CRM). I no longer need a PC at home and nor do I need to carry a heavy laptop through airports.

One of my goals for the remainder of 2014 and 2015 following is to convince my customer base to move to the RecFind 6 web-client from the standard .NET smart-client. This is because the web-client provides tangible, measurable cost benefits and will be the basis for a host of new features as we gradually deprecate the .NET smart-client and expand the functionality of the web-client. We do not believe there is a future for the fat/smart-client paradigm; it has seen its day. Customers are rightfully demanding a zero footprint and the support of an extensive range of operating environments and devices including mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Our web-client provides the functionality, mobile device support and convenience they are demanding.

Of course the back-end of the product, the image and data repository, also comes in for major upgrades and improvements. We are sticking with MS SQL Server as our database but will incorporate a host of new features and improvements to better facilitate the handling of ‘big data’. We will continue to research and make improvements to the way we capture, store and retrieve data and because our customer’s databases are now so large (measured in hundreds of Gigabytes), we are making it easier and faster to both backup and audit the repository. The objectives as always are scalability, speed, security and robustness.

We are also adding new functionality to allow the customer to bypass our standard user interface (e.g., the .NET smart-client or web-client) and create their own user interface or presentation layer. The objective is to make it as easy as possible for the customer to create tailored interfaces for each operating unit within their organization. A simple way to think of this functionality is to imagine a single high level tool that lets you quickly and easily create your own screens and dashboards and program to our SDK.

On the add-in product front we will continue to invest in our add-in products such as the Button, the MINI API, the SDK, GEM, RecCapture, the High Speed Scanning Module and the SharePoint Integration Module. Even though the base product RecFind 6 has a full complement of enterprise content management functionality these add-on products provide options requested by our customers. They are generally a way to do things faster and more automatically.

We will continue to provide two approaches for document management; the end-user paradigm (RecFind 6 plus the Button) and the fully automatic capture and classification paradigm (RecFind 6 plus GEM and RecCapture). As has been the case, we also fully expect a lot of our customers to combine both paradigms in a hybrid solution.

The major architectural change is away from the .NET smart-client (fat-client) paradigm to the browser-based thin-client or web-client paradigm. We see this as the future for all application software, unconstrained by the strictures of proprietary operating systems like Microsoft Windows.

As always, our approach, our credo, is that we do all the hard work so you don’t have to. We provide the feature rich, scalable and robust image and data repository and we also provide all of the high level tools so you can configure your applications that access our repository. We also continue to invest in supporting and enhancing all of our products making sure that they have the feature set you require and run in the operating environments you require them to. We invest in the ongoing development of our products to protect your investment in our products. This is our responsibility and our contribution to our ongoing partnership.

 

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