With the urgency imposed by NARA on federal agencies to store and manage permanent electronic records in a native electronic format this year, many agencies may find themselves tempted to assess potential solutions according to what’s easiest (cheapest, fastest, least work) rather than what’s best.
However, with even larger goals waiting on the horizon (like the requirement that all records must be submitted to NARA in electronic format by the end of 2022), it’s worth considering what makes a genuinely good records management solution today that can continue to meet needs tomorrow. Here are some characteristics we recommend you consider in any records management system you evaluate.
It should have a single repository for all record types.
The ideal system will consolidate all electronic records within a single repository. This way, users only need to go to one place to organize, manage, search for, request, or perform any other records management function. This is key to gaining the efficiencies that come with records management.
It should adapt to, and integrate into, your workflows.
Any records management system should work with you and your existing technology, as much as possible. For example, many government websites use pre-existing and proprietary web portals. The system should be able to integrate and work flawlessly (and invisibly) with any web portal.
It should automate as many records management functions as possible.
Automation is central to the benefits of electronic records management; removing or reducing the need for manual labor associated with records management is where much of the time and cost savings come in. For instance, the system should be able to apply retention and disposition rules immediately upon the classification of a record, in compliance with NARA for updated retention policies for critical records.
It must be secure.
In an age when government agencies are a major target for bad actors seeking to exfiltrate proprietary and protected data, the security of the records management system is paramount. The system and any associated data must be stored in an environment that meets all appropriate protocols (e.g., on Amazon GovCloud, which is a FedRAMP certified entity) Further, the system needs to offer role-based authentication and security to ensure agency users can access only the records appropriate to their roles.
All records should be easily discoverable.
Users should be able to perform searches, add records, submit and fill requests, create custom reports securely from any location. Search, in particular, should offer both simple and advanced operations, e.g. find any file, anywhere within a stored record that contains the word or phrase, entered from a combination of the search fields.
Bottom-line: it should make records management easier and faster.
Fundamentally, the electronic records system should be able to streamline the whole records request and management process. If it previously took workers an hour to find a file located on-site, or weeks if stored remotely, the system should reduce that time to the seconds or minutes it takes to punch in a file number or to perform a search and hit enter. The system will pull up the file instantly – complete with annotations, full version history, audit trail, and more. All that, faster than you can take a sip of coffee. That’s a successful records management system.
PSL is a global outsource provider whose mission is to provide solutions that facilitate the movement of business-critical information between and among government agencies, business enterprises, and their partners. For more information, please visit www.penielsolutions.com or email email@example.com.