Architectural Interest: Records Management Matters

PRACTICES - Content Enablement, SOLUTION - Information Management

AUTHOR

Dean Balog, Information Architect


I’m an architect; why should I care about records management? Records management is the policies, processes, and procedures to systematically control an organization’s records (paper or electronic) through their entire life cycle – from receipt or creation until their final disposition. It ensures that an organization’s vital records are protected and accessible as well as identifies and destroys useless, no-value information. Essentially, it is classifying information to determine what is important from the “noise” of low value information.

There can be a variety of factors that make records management important, but generally it is either compliance with regulations (federal, state/provincial laws, taxation, EPA, etc.) or business operations (required for business analysis, financial models, etc.) that drive the need for good records management. As we all know, laws change and new regulations are being introduced at an alarming rate with shrinking implementation timelines. A good records management program will support operations by keeping on top of these changes and reporting those changes to the data governance function and the IT infrastructure team.

Records management can provide not only the perspective of the regulations pertaining to a data domain but communication with the data governance function can lead to consistency across domains.

The second point of contact for records management is with the IT infrastructure. Surprised? Most are, until a company is hit with a lawsuit or investigated by a regulator and terabytes of disk are put on legal hold because your IT director cannot definitively say those systems, SharePoint sites, or network shares do not pertain to that particular eDiscovery activity. This can have a snowballing effect on backup retention schedules and even infrastructure refresh projects – now you are talking real money.

A good records management program can also be valuable in helping IT identify and push back on inappropriately broad requests, such as those associated with litigation support, that could potentially handcuff operations for a period of time.

Furthermore, from an information architecture point of view, there needs to be clarity as to what is moving into the cloud and where exactly that cloud resides as the various components of cloud computing move along Gartner’s Hype Cycle. For Canadian companies, this is particularly a concern since most cloud providers have their hardware farms in the US. A good records management program can be a valued conduit to not only the regulations but to the responsible corporate pursuit of cloud-based architecture in sensitive data domains.

So, why should an architect care? Because the success of any records management program depends on a symbiotic relationship between information architecture and the records management functions. Architecture feeds records management, but it is also fed by records management in a symbiotic relationship. In the end, a records management program supports business operations – keeping the company compliant with the latest regulatory requirements and prepared for inquiry or audit, as well as providing convenient recall of business decision-making information.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

With experience at strategic and tactical levels, Dean Balog’s specialty is to provide leadership and direction in the areas of BI and Information Management. Mr. Balog led BI initiatives in a variety of roles from developing BI strategy and establishing a data governance practice, to building data warehouses. This level of expertise is carried out by providing organizations with the information they need to direct their company’s performance towards achieving the corporate vision. Dean Balog’s excellent leadership skills bring Information Architecture best practices and practical advice to any initiative.

Dean has a passion for Information Architecture in setting up an Enterprise Information Management framework at the appropriate level of detail to server as the blueprint for improving data quality and manage information flow across the enterprise. Dean exhibits skills from over 10 years’ experience as a DBA and another 6+ years in Enterprise Information Architecture with a proven track record of designing and implementing robust technical architectures.




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