Meet the records professionals

from IDM Magazine July-August 2009

Matthew Platt, Manager, Records, NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change, identifies one of the main challenges of managing digital records as ensuring that information management is better understood.

"Information and records management is about more than hardware and software," he said.

"It requires a cultural change for workers who do not appreciate the value of records over time; many can’t see past their own use of a record. There is ongoing value of a record to their organisation.

He also sees the transition between hardcopy and digital record-keeping as a major issue facing modern organisations, particularly government agencies.

"All organisations have substantial paper records that need to be managed and the emphasis on digital records can mask the fact that there are still hardcopy records that need to be managed," he said.

"DECC has approved disposal authorities and archives staff to manage a proportion of these inactive hardcopy records, but also runs a consultancy service that identifies the tasks related to inactive records for business units that are willing to fund a project. The archives staff then manage the project, organise contract staff and supervise the work until completion.

There are approximately 4000 DECC staff running Microsoft Office (2003) with Microsoft Outlook (2003) and Microsoft XP as the desktop operating System.

The TRIM Context 5.2 records management system is presently used to manage hardcopy records and electronic document management is currently in the planning stage. Corporate applications include SAP and Aurion, with many smaller applications for specialist agency functions.

The RM platform does not include social media and digital records are not being captured as yet in TRIM.

"MS Office Communicator is being trialled across some parts of DECC but there are no other officially sanctioned social media applications " said Platt.

"We know we have to move to EDM but we have no specific timeline as yet. We’ll be using the latest NSW Government Selected Applications Systems (GSAS) system to ensure that any future information management systems are compliant."

DECC has a Records Management Policy in which a record is defined as per the Australian Standard on records management ASISO15489 and the NSW State Records Act. i.e. ‘all records created during the course of business, as evidence and information, in any format, are agency records’.

Until EDM is introduced, TRIM manages the metadata for hardcopy records and the policy is to print hardcopy records onto TRIM registered files. There are more than 1.5 million records on the DECC TRIM database.

"Network drives and the email system are repositories of digital records," said Platt.

"We are working on developing structured drives using standard terminology to enable staged retention and disposal of electronic records. DECC is a large environmental agency with many and varied functions requiring the capture of records in all formats including GIS, digital images and data captured relating to flora and fauna species.”

All records, no matter what their format, are subject to approved State Records retention and disposal authorities. It is the function and activity that a record documents that determines its retention. DECC uses ‘record type’ in TRIM to mean a business related record used for specific business reasons e.g. standard document, ministerial document, file, or box etc.

For newly registered files in TRIM, a disposal sentence is linked to classification keywords at the time of file creation to identify records of value. Archives staff apply sentences to hardcopy records and manage their transfer to Government Records Repository pending a destruction date or to State Archives for permanent retention. All identified active and inactive records are managed through TRIM.

Many areas of DECC use scanners to manage hardcopy records, namely RICOH multi function devices.

DECC has a full records management program in place including: Policy; record-keeping system (TRIM Context); training programs and manuals; qualified records staff; and a decentralised record-keeping model in which records creation is devolved to trained users in each business unit;

Regular monthly training sessions in TRIM and best practice records management are held at metropolitan and regional DECC offices.

"Until electronic document management is introduced DECC policy is to ‘print and file’ as per State Records advice. We rely on the Information Management & Communications Technology Branch back up service to ensure that all digital information is retained," said Platt.

Telstra F&A

Sandra Hinchey is National Corporate Records Manager, Governance & Compliance Team, the Finance and Administration Business Unit F&A), Telstra.

Sandra gave us some insights into the records management challenges being faced by Telstra, although company policy is not to provide information "in relation to its service providers or system applications utilised across the corporation" which limited her ability to reply to some questions.

Hinchey notes, "There is a huge variety of record formats that must be managed within Telstra. It is a major challenge to manage all these formats while minimising the impact on the user and the creator of the records. We must also ensure they are systematically disposed off when no longer needed or their retention extended if they are required for legal matters.”

Telstra is presently addressing the challenge of including social media and instant messaging within its RM platform.

"This is where a mixing of work and personal or social life sometimes can't be readily separated and at other times this separation is very clear. This continues to cause problems even though policies exist as it is not always clear cut," said Hinchey.

"There are records created as part of your organisational role that belong to the company and need to be managed as such and those generated as part of your social or personal networking. However the line is blurring and sometimes it is difficult to separate the two in some instances, especially in the sales and innovation/development area.”

There are 40,000 Telstra staff running Microsoft Office and Outlook 2003 on Windows XP, although plans have been announced to migrate to Office 2007. There is no enterprise-wide ECM or DRM platform across Telstra although a number of different solutions are employed by various divisions of the organisation.

A specific email journaling and archiving system has been deployed across Telstra to ensure evidential requirements relating to email and discovery are met

Records are archived on paper and electronically as defined by the Telstra records management policy.

"While some documents become records not all are as a number of copies and drafts of documents exist, however, in respect of legal discovery we incorporate all documents as well as records," said Hinchey."

All correspondence is retained, but, not all documents as there are 'Limited Deletion Options' listed in Telstra's Company Policy that enable staff to delete some documents.

Do different record types have different retention requirements?

"It's not really the record types themselves that determine the retention period it is the way these records are generated, managed and archived that seem to determine the retention periods and especially having practical and easily implementable retention triggers," said Hinchey.

Awareness training is included in the Business Essentials training for all Telstra employees. A Company Policy relates to Records management which all staff are required to follow and a RM Compliance Program is developed annually which is required to be incorporated into Business Unit Compliance Plans and is monitored to ensure record keeping issues are addressed.

Policy and compliance is in-house, however physical storage of records and data managed is often outsourced.


Jennifer Curley (ARMA) is the Team Coordinator Records at Energex, one of two electricity distribution networks in Queensland. The company’s South East Queensland distribution area of 25,000 square kilometres includes more than 50,000km of underground and overhead electricity lines and cables, over 600,000 power poles, some 43,000 transformers and almost 300,000 street lights.

An enterprise-wide electronic document and records management system (eEDRMS) is being rolled out in stages to Energex staff, and is planned to eventually reach about 2500 of the more than 3500 employees.

Queensland Whole of Government selected Hummingbird as the eDRMS solution and Energex went with this product. In 2006 Hummingbird 6.03 was deployed, with an upgrade to 6.04cu5 in March 2008. At this stage there are approximately 750 users licensed to use the system.

"Previously we were using TRIM to manage paper records but the Public Records Act 2002 required a platform to handle email and electronic records," said Jennifer Curley

"Change management has been our greatest challenge as many of our users still like to work with paper, engineers in particular like to see a physical document. The benefits of accessing the documents via Hummingbird is slowly being realised, particularly when there is staff turnover and emails are still available."

The standard Energex desktop runs Microsoft Office 2003, Marval Service Management (MSM) software and enterprise applications.

The Records Team have two Kodak desktop scanners and a multi-functional device at their disposal for scanning current documents and historical documents on a needs basis. Other areas around the business also use multi-functional devices.

There are more than 30,000 boxes of hardcopy archives of historical documents that are managed in Hummingbird. Australia Post mail items are scanned and distributed electronically these days to Hummingbird users. The Records Team stores the paper in hardcopy files or archive boxes, depending on the content.

The Web 2.0 world is presently being kept at bay as network users are not provided with access to FaceBook, YouTube, Skype and other social media apps.

The Energex Records Management policy states that the definition of a Record is "any information created, received and maintained by ENERGEX officers in the course of their work activities and serves as evidence that a business activity or a decision took place. A public record can be defined as having administrative, financial, legal, historical and community value."

Whereas the definition of a document is "Structured units of information recorded in any format and on any medium and managed as discrete units or objects.

Hummingbird is tightly integrated with the Microsoft Office suite so staff are prompted to save an email into Hummingbird as they send it. Eventually when the rollout is complete across the organisation, everyone who sends or receives email will have Hummingbird on their PC.

Within the Hummingbird system Energex has not used the Public Folder area for document management. All documents are captured in the Business Classification Scheme.

"We use two Retention & Disposal schedules – GRDS and Energy Sector. The schedules are applied at the file level not the document level," said Curley

"Overall there is not an organisational-wide strategy on record-keeping yet.”

"With each new group coming on board to Hummingbird we go through a process of firstly getting buy-in from the manager and the encouragement comes from them in terms of getting their team to use the system."

Australian National Audit Office (ANAO)

Around 320 staff are employed by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), which exists to support Auditor-General in auditing public sector entities for the Australian Parliament. The desktop environment is Microsoft Vista and Office 2007.

Interwoven FileSite was introduced to the ANAO in February 2008 as the Electronic Document and Records Management System (EDRMS) with Refocus CMS used for the ANAO Web site.

More than 55000 paper files have not been migrated to the EDRMS, however nearly all new files are electronic apart from some highly classified files that still remain on paper at the ANAO.

ANAO staff do not have access to network drive, all documents are stored in the EDRMS.

The ANAO uses Exchange 2007 in a HyperV cluster for email with all mail stored in the Email vault and moved or copied to the EDRMS as records.

CIO Gary Pettigrove is planning to move to the next Interwoven version this November which will allow all email threads to be automatically added to the EDRMS once the first email has been added to the EDRMS.

Most documents now arrive electronically and staff have access to MFDs for scanning physical documents.

Records Manager Diane Couchman says the ANAO is also on a mission to reduce the amount of paper generation inside the organisation and introduce more electronic workflow.

"We are reducing the amount of paper used within the organisation by insisting that almost all documents received in the ANAO are saved electronically.

“Our current paper files are being maintained and will be disposed of at the appropriate time. In the meantime our creation of paper records has diminished greatly."

One of the biggest challenges on the horizon for the Australian National Audit Office is getting general and records staff with the appropriate EDRMS and electronic document handling skills

In addition to formal staff training programs the ANO publishes Quick Tips on its intranet and provides lots of one-on-one assistance.

Swinburne University of Technology

Shane Arnold, Manager, University Records & Freedom of Information at Swinburne University of Technology, is looking forward to a planned move to Electronic Document and Records Management (EDRM) in 2010.

“We are looking at implementing a whole range of electronic software projects utilising TRIM, including Contracts, Accreditation/Re-Accreditation, Policy & Procedures Database (which has already been implemented), said Arnold.

Swinburne runs on a Novell network with Groupwise email system, ASCOL student system, TRIM RM system, and uses e-copy for scanning student records. There are around 2200 staff and all corporate records are stored on paper, although Swinburne has commenced a . ‘hybrid’ system for student Records, which are scanned with a hard copy also being retained.

“Our policy & procedures attempt to cover what a record is & the difference,” said Arnold. ”Student records are categorised according to Public Records Office Victoria disposal schedules.”

“The format we follow is as under Public Records Office Victoria disposal schedule PROS 02/01 and uses a manual TRIM system. A backlog of current student records is being scanned by an outside agency, placed on CD & imported into TRIM. All new 2009 student documents are being scanned & uploaded into TRIM via e-copy software.”

Arnold estimates the budget to implement a VERS project for electronic record-keeping across the university will be between $150-200,000.