The Role of the Records Manager in Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Systems

ECM, or Enterprise Content Management, provides traditionally been a project led from the Information Technology (IT) department.
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ECM refers to the technologies and tools utilized to capture, manage, store, preserve, plus deliver structured and unstructured articles. ECM focuses on ways to improve functional efficiencies, improve workflows, enable electronic searching, and significantly reduce the amount of paper used. Sounds like IT buzzwords to me.

ECM focuses on three problems:

Enhance workforce effectiveness through collaboration, communication, and information sharing.
Change business process through the integration of content and the automation of associated processes
Optimize the infrastructure intended for content and compliance through the capture, the archiving, the retention, the particular discovery, and the retrieval processes.
IT loves ECM as it speaks in order to technologies, storage, archiving, organizational processes, and unstructured information. To IT, ECM represents the state-of-the-art technology intended for managing data in a highly effective manner. So it would seem that it’s a no-brainer that IT should be leading ECM projects, or is it? And it might also seem that IT has a wonderful justification for ECM systems, right? Actually, the answer is “No. inch IT generally cannot justify ECM programs on their own. And this is where the particular records manager can save the day simply by becoming the business sponsor of the ECM project. Just two cases verify this point. In recent litigation, 2 large companies suffered losses associated with $29 million and $600+ mil due to inadequate email management techniques; put more bluntly, they didn’t have a records management sponsored ECM program in place.

IT Missed the idea

ECM is more than achieving equipment and software efficiencies. The underlying focus of ECM is not on IT efficiencies but on compliance, risk, and ediscovery challenges. Now here’s the particular rub: While IT may have achieved some data reduction efficiencies with email and document management redundancies, they will haven’t touched the critical element of compliance, risk, and ediscovery problems.

Enter the Amended Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP).

On Dec 1, 2006, the Federal Principle of Civil Procedure was amended to include ESI, or electronically kept information. The new rules address the particular extraordinary increase in information conveyed plus stored in electronic format. These amendments related to “electronically stored information” (i. e., information stored on computer systems or other electronic media) throughout the discovery phase of litigation. Just before these amendments, whether electronically stored information should be searched or produced during discovery was a point of confusion and disagreement. The amended rules have resolved this issue.

CRUCIAL Component of the Amended Rules intended for Records Managers

This Federal Principle of Civil Procedure affects all of companies, big, small, public, personal, or not-for-profit and more importantly, the particular amendments essentially require records managers to prove to the courts they have a records management program (including an up-to-date records retention schedule) that is consistently applied to physical and digital records. Wow, all of a sudden, there becomes a real need for records managers. The proof of this last statement are available at job boards like CareerBuilder and Monster that now advertise pages upon pages for information management individuals whereas several years ago, you’d be better with lucky to find one position listed in any month.

The Records Supervisor can Save the Day

The key component of any kind of ECM implementation is how it relates to compliance, risk, and ediscovery. The fact that IT can reduce data redundancies and streamline document storage and backup is secondary.

The key to the success of any ECM plan hinges on the implementation of records retention rules on the content managed by ECM (e. g., electronic mails, documents, work flows, web content, immediate messaging, databases, or flash hard disks, to name a few). With ECM implemented, the Records Manager might have the best opportunity possible to verify that they are consistently applying their records retention schedule to electronically stored information.

Records Managers can Ensure Success for Electronically Stored Details and Assure Success for present and future Filed and expected Litigation

All electronically stored info must be matched against the company’s records retention schedule to determine if the information is a record and for how long the information needs to be retained. ECM is the perfect option for accomplishing this records management requirement as large ECM vendors (e. g., IBM, EMC, or even Interwoven) can offer solutions that tackle email messages, document management, business procedure workflows, and web content to name several. More importantly, these vendors have ediscovery modules to implement legal holds (mechanism to prevent records from being modified or destroyed) across almost all electronically stored information and even bodily records, at the same time. As to the vendors that provide these solutions, you have to do your homework. but be aware that there are companies on the market that only offer pieces of this particular solution such as for email just or web content only.

Why the particular Records Managers should lead ECM Efforts

The current trend is for Records Managers to lead ECM efforts with IT being a partner in the effort. The mistake is to think that IT can direct the effort with the Records Managers because the secondary partner. Records Managers must have the final say (even administrative rights to the ECM system) to assure that this records retention rules are properly and accurately applied and to assure that the legal holds system is given only by Records Managers and Litigation Attorneys. More importantly, the Records Managers can serve as the business sponsor and provide the funding for the project in situations where IT would have difficulty justifying the ECM system without the impact of the Records Management program.


In summary, the ediscovery rules make it clear that electronically saved information, the information on your business’s computer systems, is discoverable. Therefore , it’s time for your business to become tech-savvy and get prepared because unless your business is immune to litigation, the ediscovery rules will impact it. As well as the consequences are severe when information are destroyed prematurely because the records retention schedule rules were ignored or nonexistent as they apply to electronically stored information.

My advice in order to Records Managers is to study different ECM offerings from vendors and attend seminars and conferences provided by ARMA and by AIIM to understand the importance of ECM and why you should be leading the effort and not IT.