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In Focus: ARMA Releases Go on the Record

ARMA is helping hurricane recovery efforts by sharing information designed to help organizations recover business records and information.

ARMA International's 50th annual Conference and Expo was in Chicago last week, with experts and vendors presenting advice and technology aimed at improved information management and records retention. With Hurricane Katrina still on everyone's mind, attendees had a fresh, real-world understanding of the importance of records management practices and disaster recovery planning.

A trade association dedicated to records management, ARMA is helping recovery efforts by sharing information designed to help organizations recover business records and information. For example, AMRA has excerpted the book "Emergency Management for Records and Information Programs", providing links to sections on "Recovery and Resumption of Operations" as well as a helpful form for "Initial Damage Assessment."

The bulk of the agenda at ARMA focused on more routine, though no less weighty, records retention and compliance challenges, including management for global organizations, working relationships between IT and records managers and the always underestimated matter of training employees. The temptation, of course, is to buy records management products and services to "fix" the compliance problem, but then not follow through in establishing policies, procedures and training programs.

"In our focus groups, we've found that the biggest gap in records management is on the adoption side—in getting people to use the technology," says Neil Araujo, vice president, professional services and compliance solutions, at Interwoven. "It's easy to have a set of rules, but if they're too cumbersome and sacrifice productivity, people will bypass the system."

At ARMA, Interwoven announced Records Manager 5.0, a services-based architectural upgrade of a product it acquired last year with the purchase of RM vendor Software Intelligence. IRM 5.0 has been integrated with Interwoven's .Net-based WorkSite collaborative document management system, and the focus for now is on the needs of professional services firms. Interwoven has 1,600 professional services firms as WorkSite customers, with 70 to 80 percent being law firms, 15 to 20 percent being accounting firms and the remainder being consulting and real estate firms. Araujo says IRM 5.0 will be integrated with Java-based WorkSite MP within the next six months.

IRM 5.0 spans paper and electronic information sources including e-mail, and through features such as inheritance, documents can be declared as records and retention rules applied automatically based on where the files are saved. Trained users can also take a more active hand in setting up rules for their personal work, and new offline capabilities let users perform records-management-related activities as usual when disconnected from the office. The declarations and lifecycle management steps are then synchronized when the user goes back online. The system uses a federated approach in which content can continue to be managed and stored in native file systems, document management systems and e-mail servers, but can be controlled as a record by IRM 5.0 with rules-driven safeguards ensuring retention and preventing unauthorized alteration or deletion.

Xerox also introduced a new product at ARMA, though it's based on existing technology. More than a year ago Xerox announced it would OEM records management technology from IBM, and the finished product—DocuShare Records Manager—is finally shipping. The optional module brings DoD-certified RM to one of the industry's lowest cost ECM systems.

Among the first customers for DocuShare Records Manager is the Northern Lights School Division, which serves 7,000 students in rural Alberta, Canada. Schools in Canada are faced with the rigid compliance demands of the Canadian Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPP). As a result, Northern Lights started a move toward paper-free record keeping back in 1998, and it has had a Documentum system in place for more than five years. When records were on paper, it took the division as long as 45 days to comply with FOIPP requests for every record on student X or employee Y, but that dropped to less than a week once Documentum was in place (and nearly all the response time remaining involves aggregating and screening records for private information about third parties not involved in the FOIPP request).

So why the move to DocuShare if Documentum is doing the job? "DocuShare meets all of our needs now that the records management module is available," says Gary Krawchuk, assistant superintendent, business and financial affairs, at Northern Lights. "From a financial perspective, it presented a lower initial investment and ongoing maintenance costs."

Other announcements at ARMA included the release of FileNet Records Manager 3.5 as well as the company's acquisition of the Yaletown Technology Group and its Records Crawler technology. FileNet Records Manager 3.5 upgrades include "Intelligent Retention" and Content Federation Services (CFS) capabilities. The Intelligent Retention feature is designed to support alternative or optional retention periods based on variables or rules imposed by multiple regulatory authorities. The feature reduces the risk of the wrong retention period being applied in the case of overlapping requirements.

Record Manager 3.5's CFS feature enables it to search, catalog, classify, secure, retain and delete content residing in repositories across the enterprise (beyond the confines of a dedicated RM repository). Thus, CFS can prevent unauthorized access to or inadvertent destruction or deletion of records no matter where they might reside. FileNet's Yaletown acquisition is aimed at capturing records that reside within unmanaged file systems or even desktops. Yaletown's Records Crawler seeks out records within the enterprise—particularly unmanaged content at the file system level—and applies the same rules as those applied to records within managed repositories.