Digital Records Management: Expanding Definitions

by Jim Delande

Digital records management is changing faster than alphabetized boxes or metal filing cabinets can keep up with. The definition of a “record” will continue expanding in direct proportion to the technologies we adapt. This is a good thing, as business relationships today require a certain amount of agility, but it’s also a cause of anxiety.

Ask any manager about their records, and those who know the truth will say their physical files are in pretty good shape, tucked away in a clean, secure location: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” She may even smile with the peace of mind such certainty brings. Now think about digital records storage and management systems.

The digital side is a mess. The kind of mess that tempts you to stuff it all in a closet and slam the door quick before it all falls out. The problem is that someone always comes along and opens that door; something heavy always falls out. There are more effective long term solutions. The objective here is to create a framework conducive to change; an e-records system should have everything you need to move forward when new platforms arise.

If you’re looking for a physical solution to a digital problem, you could end up with a bigger mess full of holes. Litigators and compliance regulators don’t accept cracks as a suitable storage facility – things fall through them all the time. Would you want to be the person tasked with finding a contract addendum that just happens to live in the last marketing director’s instant messaging chat history?

Every document that’s important to your business can and should flow into a digital records management system. Start by benchmarking your current state, and then get all the different platforms that various departments use talking.

These types of records all belong in an e-storage system:
Email confirmations
Online chats
Social media, including Facebook and Twitter

It’s not enough to qualify what records are today and what they may look like tomorrow. Digital records management must have agility built in so that businesses can continue to adapt new technology. As you entrust off-site storage for your physical files, know that a comprehensive e-storage system is the solution to today’s digital mess. Once such a system is in place, businesses enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing that every important piece of information, whether it was created last year on paper of yesterday on a screen, is in its place.

Jim Delande is Senior Manager of Product and Solutions Marketing Manager for Records Management at Iron Mountain.