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Records management software

Ana CanteliWritten by Ana Canteli on 12 septembre 2017

What is a record?

The meaning of the term record is complex. The term, when applied in different scenarios, takes on different meanings that contribute certain nuances.

In general terms, we can say that a record is a set of data that provide objective evidence about the activities, events, results obtained, or communications made within the company.

Two types of records are distinguished; non-electronic records (for example, a set of data referring to a book and its location) and electronic records (documents).

In some languages, there is a certain parallelism between the term record and file (dossier), as in the case of the Spanish language; where the term "records management" is often used as a synonym for "dossier management".

The key concept related to the record is to provide evidence. A document in construction (draft) does not provide evidence. An invoice type document is evidence and therefore is a record.

What is the difference between documents and records ?

A document is any object created for the purpose of transmitting information. This object is formed by two elements: the support (physical, or electronic) and the content (information).

A record is a document - evidence; shows reliable events within the organization. Records allow companies to be accountable and contribute to transparency in management.
Therefore, a document may become a record, but not all documents will be considered records. In many records management systems, the "declare record" function is still maintained; which would indicate the moment when the document ceases to be the property of its author and becomes a corporate document.

The record as document process:

The register operation involves the assignment of a unique number, code or identifier within the system, usually accompanied by a brief descriptive information, which identifies the document.
ISO 15489 stipulates that the record must meet at least the following elements:

  • a unique identifier, assigned automatically
  • the date and time of the act being recorded;
  • a title or abbreviated description of the online document or registered item
  • the author or the issuer and, the receiver of the registered electronic document

The registration process is necessary when you want to record the moment of capture.

The record may have the connotation of sequentiality, which would prevent documents from being interleaved in the sequence, which in turn is evidence of the order of capture or arrival.
In the OpenKM records management solution, when the documents are incorporated, a process of assigning a UUID - (Universally Unique Identifier) occurs, whose meaning and purpose is the same as that of the record.

In English-speaking countries, the use of "record" is widespread and common knowledge. Not so in Spanish-speaking countries, for which the concept record is confusing because of the diversity of meanings of the term.

For us a record can be:

  • Record (Database): This is a unique data object structured in a table format. Excel is a well-known application that allows us to manege alphanumeric data in the form of tables, composed of cells - organized in rows and columns. If we take all data relating to a customer (code, name, address, activity ...) that sets fields that contain data that belong to the same entity (client) that is a record.
  • Record (metadata): The word metadata literally means "data that provides information about another data". For example in a library, the system of records tells us that the book "The Odyssey" by Homer, is on the 2nd floor, shelves VIII shelf D3. Data relating to the location of the book would be collected as a record in the library.
  • Record (file): is a set of documents that are produced and received in the same process in the logical sequence of resolution of the matter. The file itself, has a probative value, so in the management of records in paper support was established the requirement of paginating dossiers. The idea is that by consecutively numbering the document; no one can misrepresent the sequence or include a document a posteriori. The implementation of the electronic file can take shape in different ways; all with the intention that the links between the documents are not lost and can not be included later.

And of course the meaning of registration as evidence-document of a fact or activity.

Who needs a records management system ?

Records management allows companies to comply with legal requirements, while maintaining the information necessary for the proper development of their business processes. From the creation or introduction of a document or information in the enterprise content management system; up to the final disposal (determine how long the file remains in the company); in relation to corporate documentation and records; thus avoiding negative opinions in audits, fines or any similar situation.

Really it doesn’t matter in what sector you work in; if you have a Human Resources department for example, then you have to comply with requirements in the records management.

What characteristic does a good records management software ?

When a company needs to implement and maintain the information management policy, it needs software that enables them to exercise effective and systematic control over the creation, reception, maintenance, use and disposal of documents. OpenKM is a software tool that provides support for the processes of:

  •  workflow
  • capture and digitization of documents,
  • privacy policy and information security,
  • version control
  • e-mail management
  • archiving of electronic documents

And in short, all those aspects related to the control of documents in document management.

A records management system should allow us to:

  1. Apply policies and standards: each organization must know its legislative and regulatory framework. This basic documentation must be stored in a secure environment and accessible to designated users
  2. Assign responsibilities and authorizations: each user or user group must know who does what, when, where, and why or for whom. OpenKM's enterprise document management software through the Authentication functionality allows you to define and distribute authorizations to users of records. Only users with a login and password can access the system. After the assignment of roles, defined according to the needs of the organization - by their rank or status, by their membership in a department or area, etc. - allows the manager of the records management to manage the authorizations at group level, for a better distribution and exercise of the tasks, that the users need to perform.
  3. Establish and promulgate procedures and guidelines: An organization should establish, document, maintain and enact document management policies, procedures and  best practices to meet the needs for information, evidence and accountability. OpenKM's webbased document management software, allows the creation of this documentation within the system or the introduction of it through scanning processes, if it already exists in paper format. Through the Automation functionality the responsible can apply those procedures, practices and policies in the daily management of electronic records. For example, when the disposition date arrives, the records management system sends notifications to the users affected by the disposition of records; all documents that are part of the type X records, will be converted to PDF, and sent to a secondary repository. The workflow engine included in OpenKM, allows the design of workflows that implement electronic records management procedures of the company. Through the classification tools of the system of management of records of OpenKM, like the allocation of keywords, categories, or metadata; the software helps the company to meet all the descriptive requirements set forth in ISO 15489-1: 2001, which is the regulatory framework that OpenKM has followed for the development of its records management system.
  4. Provide services related to the management and use of records: content management software must allow users to create, receive, maintain, use and exercise the provision of documents. OpenKM's records management system allows users to create records in electronic format, or to scan documents in paper format. For digitized records, OpenKM offers a series of services that contribute to the correct classification and management of them. Through OCR engine (Optical Character Recognition) or OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) OpenKM can recognize the type of document - for example, through the file barcode - or a selection of services / products, pointed by a customer, in a form. The OpenKM Live Edit system allows the editing of any document within the records management system, without the extension of the file being an inconvenience. The Live Edit system recognizes the file format and opens it in edit mode with the application that corresponds to it. In addition, the Live Edit system protects the file, so that only one user can edit the document at a time; while it remains accessible to other users. By the time the document has reached its final version, the document can be locked. In this way no user can create a new version. Users who participate in the creation of records can maintain the flow of communication through tabs Notes, Preview - where you can add comments while respecting the current version and authorship - the Forum - space in which users can share ideas or make queries on issues related to records - or the Wiki - where they reveal the sources or rules that are followed for the preparation of the documentation. In addition, through the Chat functionality, members of the company can have conversations in real time. In the History tab, users will have access to the document life cycle, being able to compare the different versions with each other. Besides, OpenKM's records management software is able to highlight the contributions of each author. When a document is of special relevance to us, or we want to assign the tracking of a record to a user, the Subscription functionality can be useful to us. It allows us to receive notifications about every change made on the record. In addition, the Activity Log tab makes it possible to exercise complete traceability over events happened on the record; which contributes to quality management systems. In this aspect, the Reporting functionality can be very useful; since it will show filtered information based on any aspect that is of interest to us. Data that will be used to determine the corrective actions that are necessary. On the other hand the Metadata, allow us to add information to the records. This information can be extracted from the document, or attached to the record from a database (which would contain information relating to the record). Metadata can be used to stipulate the layout of records - how long documents need to remain in the system -.
  5. Design, implement and manage specialized records management systems. Each organization can stipulate the records management plan that allows them to comply with laws, standards and best practices; at the same time that it supports business processes. This implies that the records management system acts as part of a whole in the company. In this sense, the webbased document management software of OpenKM, allows the integration with any third digital asset. In this way OpenKM can serve as a container or feed other applications that are part of the company. Thanks to SDK's for Java, PHP or .NET, organizations have easier integration of the records manager into the set of programs they use. In addition, the records management system gives full access to the OpenKM suite which includes extras such as MS-addin for Word, Excel, Access and now for MS Visio, Import Station, scanner client, electronic signature, among others .

Nowadays public administrations are no longer interested exclusively in the printed version of the documentation. They know they can not focus their regulatory activity on paper records.

In addition, the proliferation of services provided by third parties, together with the growth of services and products in the cloud, has forced regulators to be more demanding in their expectations when assessing the suitability of companies' exercise; to legality, standards and best practices in the sector.

Records management systems need to be able to clearly demonstrate the origin of the information, maintain authenticity and integrity throughout the document's life cycle; and at the same time serve as a platform to preserve control over records that are stored, managed and distributed; sometimes on a global scale.
Therefore, it is very important that the company's applications, systems and processes are designed, and made available to staff for proper records management, project management or inventory management.

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