An interesting challenge for Records Managers is the newer document management paradigm of a multiple-repository, multi-silo model. That is, being asked to manage all content without a single central repository. To be responsible for all content across a myriad of locations controlled by a myriad of applications and a myriad of departments/organizations and people.
In multiple-repository systems we find multiple document stores; local files, network file shares, local data bases, multiple file servers, multiple copies of SharePoint and multiple Cloud repositories like Dropbox, Box, iCloud, Google Cloud Storage and other hosted document storage. The records manager may proudly claim to manage multiple information silos but what he or she really has is a laissez faire document management ecosystem that may well be centrally monitored (hopefully) but is most certainly not centrally managed.
In the multiple silo model, the documents in our multiple locations are ‘managed’ by multiple people and multiple applications (e.g., SharePoint, Google Docs, etc.). We may have implemented another layer of software above all these diverse applications trying to keep up with what is happening but If I am just ‘watching’ then I don’t have an inviolate copy and I don’t have any control over what happens to the document. I am unable to enforce any standards. There is no ‘standard’ central control over versioning or retention and no control over the document life cycle or chain of evidence.
All you really know is that at a certain point in time a document existed and what its properties were at that time (e.g., historical ‘natural’ Metadata such as original filename, author, date created, etc.). However, you have no contextual Metadata, no transactional Metadata, no common indexing and no common Business Classification System. In this case, you don’t have a document management system, you have a laissez faire document management ecosystem, an assortment of independently ‘managed’ information silos. Most importantly, you are not able to link documents to business processes that transcend organizational structures and silos.
Sure, SharePoint and Cloud silos make collaboration easier but at what cost? What can’t we do with this multi-silo ecosystem? Why doesn’t this solution meet the best-practice objectives of a document management system? What are the major areas where it falls short? How does the proliferation of multiple silos and content repositories affect us?
The Major Shortfalls of this paradigm
We are unable to:
- extract the critical insights that enterprise information should provide
- define all the relationships that link documents to enterprise business processes
- find the right information at the right time
- provide a single access point for all content
- Implement an effective, consistent enterprise-wide document security system
- effectively protect against natural or man-made disasters
- produce evidence-standard documents
- minimize document handling costs
- guarantee the integrity of a document
- guarantee that a document is in fact the most recent version
- guarantee that a document is not an older copy
- minimize duplicate and redundant information
- meet critical compliance targets like Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) and the HIPAA
- create secure, searchable archives for digital content
- effectively secure all documents against loss
- implement common enterprise version control
- facilitate enterprise collaboration
- Improve timeliness
- manage enterprise document security and control
- manage smaller and more reliable backups
- achieve the lowest possible document management and archiving costs
- deliver the best possible knowledge management access and search
- guarantee consistent content
- optimize management and executive time
- standardize the types of documents and other content can be created within an organization.
- define common use template to use for each type of document.
- standardize the Metadata required for each type of document.
- standardize where to store a document at each stage of its life cycle.
- control access to a document at each stage of its life cycle.
- move documents within the organization as team members contribute to the documents’ creation, review, approval, publication, and disposition.
- implement a common set of policies that apply to documents so that document-related actions are audited, documents are retained or disposed of properly, and content that is important to the organization is protected.
- manage when and if a document has to be converted from one format to another as it moves through the stages of its life cycle.
- guarantee that all documents are treated as corporate records, that common retention policies are applied determining which documents must be retained according to legal requirements and corporate guidelines.
- guarantee enterprise-wide Regulatory compliance
- produce an enterprise-wide audit trail
- share information across departmental and/or silo boundaries
- centrally manage the security access to documents/information across different areas of the organization.
- consistently classify documents as each repository may be used by a different department and be classified differently.
- identify duplicates based on document name.
- easily find things based on metadata, as it wouldn’t be common across repositories.
- control access via AD single sign on
- access all enterprise documents using a single license.
- centrally audit access and changes to metadata.
Try as I may, I am finding it nigh on impossible to get creative enough to work out how I could effectively and reliably manage all content across an enterprise without a single central repository.