Compliant Public Disclosure Starts with Smart Records Retention

If there’s one message I consistently hear from customers today, it’s how big of a deal public disclosure is for the government and how we need better solutions around it. That being said, you would not believe how many of these organizations don’t feel that they have a good handle on their content.

In Washington State, public disclosure refers to the release of all documents and content to the person making the request. These documents at minimum need to be available for the requestor to view. There are some exemptions to this, such as sealed case files.

Good public disclosure practices really start with one thing: good record-keeping (and destruction). We hear time and time again from customers that they’ve never thrown anything away for fear that the document may be needed at a later date. While they may be thinking that this is the best way to avoid throwing anything away that should be kept, it also means keeping records that should have been destroyed.

Some aren’t aware of the fact that when a public disclosure request comes in, organizations are required by law to turn over any documentation pertaining to the request (as long as it is subject to disclosure). That means that if documents haven’t been destroyed and fall under the specific request, those documents need to be turned over as well, even though they are past the retention period. This poses a huge risk in regards to potential litigations.

Getting your records in order may seem like an overwhelming task, but here are some steps you can take to move toward better practices related to retention and disposition of records.

  1. Understand YOUR Organization’s Requirements for Record Retention and Disposition
    Every organization is different. Certain records have to be kept longer than others, some records might need to be sealed, others may need redaction before they can be turned over, etc. Each organization, each department, even each business process may have different requirements around records. Determine and document what the requirements are so that when you start to do an inventory of content, you have a definitive plan regarding what needs to be kept and for how long. Click here for a link to the Washington State Records Retention Schedules.
  2. Where are my Records?
    Identify where records are kept. Are they stored on a network share? In a file cabinet? In a content management system? Somewhere else? Are they in paper form? Electronic? Are there video files? Regardless of where the documents are kept, the regulations are around how you get the content organized, not the file format or how hard the collection process is. This will help ensure that there are not duplicate documents, and if there are, that only the pertinent copies are kept so as not to be a factor in a potential litigation.
  3. Perform an Analysis and Inventory of Your Records
    Some organizations choose to do this internally, some hire a contractor, and some take a hybrid approach. Regardless of which path you choose, determine what content you have, what needs to be kept, and what can be disposed of before evaluating any technology. This will keep you from bringing content into a solution that will need to be immediately disposed of after the initial analysis.
  4. Choose a Solution that is Flexible and Easy
    95% of organizations I work with are looking for a solution that is easy-to-use yet flexible enough to change with requirements. They want something that can easily set up to work with current retention and disposition schedules, yet can be updated without too much effort if laws or regulations change.
  5. Trust the System
    If you’ve done the prep work correctly, then what you need to do is trust what you’ve put in place is going to work. Choose a good partner with a track record of success to help you.

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about what can be accomplished around public disclosure, records retention and your content. ImageSource has been assisting customer partners with these types of solutions for the last 20 years. We have done everything from initial consulting through implementation and support. Below is a short list of some of offerings:

  • Expert consulting to determine your “as is” state and develop a plan to get you to your “desired” state using industry best practices
  • Assessment of your current technology and how it can be leveraged
  • Solution evaluation to perfectly match technology with your requirements
  • Solution deployment, configuration, training and rollout
  • Document collection, conversion, scanning, taxonomy definition and automated classification and metadata extraction
  • Data Migration
  • Ongoing partnership for system/process tuning, growth and support
  • Managed applications services

The ILINX platform can assist any organization with getting a handle on their content.

How to get the best bang for your buck!

Why price is not the most important factor
when purchasing imaging hardware

When shopping for new imaging hardware, many customers look at their budget and let that dictate their purchase. Now I understand that budget is an important factor, however over the last 9 years working with imaging customers, many have purchased equipment based mainly on price – only to discover that it did not meet their long term growth needs.

So in light of these discussions, here is bits of wisdom that can be used as a checklist when considering new purchases:

  • Color or Black & White (B & W) scanning? The majority of scanners automatically come with color option but can also provide B & W scanning for smaller document size files.
  • Is Speed important – scanners are classed by Pages per Minute (PPM). How fast do you need the scanner to scan?
  • How much volume are you expecting to scan per day, week or month? Volume and speed is determined by the manufacturer when they develop the scanner.
  • Manufacturers group their scanners into categories based on PPM and the Daily Duty Cycle (DDC). DDC is how many images the scanner can handle on a daily basis. So if you have a large volume of scanning to be completed on a daily basis, a small desktop workgroup scanner will not be sufficient for the volume – it would break down all the time. Here are the general groupings that manufacturers use:

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Getting Rid of Legacy Systems

I recently watched a segment on King 5 News around how some government agencies are using legacy systems for their day-to-day work. The article was highlighting the software program used at the Department of Licensing to process vehicle registrations, however, there are a number of additional agencies that are using legacy programs and platforms for their day-to-day processes. The segment went on to discuss how expensive it would be to update all of those systems. Continue reading

Transactional Content Management – a catalyst for business process improvement

Despite the massive amounts of investments made in information technology there is still a need for businesses and organizations to continually ask the following questions on four main strategic business drivers:

  1. Reduce Costs: How can we complete “X” process in less time and with less cost and less labor?
  2. Increase Revenue: What can be done to improve the customer experience while shortening the sales cycle and improving our gross margins?
  3. Risk & Compliance: What must be in place in order to prevent unauthorized access and/or actions to our systems and data? What ability do we have to audit and report on the activities within the system?
  4. Competitive Advantage: What can be done to give our customers a “WOW” experience? What can be done to reduce the time from sales order-to-cash to improve self-funding our growth?

The strategic business drivers listed above when reduced down to their basic elements often translate into some type of process that is driven by documents and data. There are many systems that help affect this change like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM); however, they can often times fall short because they are great at processing data, they just aren’t equipped to deal with documents like an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system.

What is Enterprise Content Management or ECM? The Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) Continue reading

Enterprise content management in higher education

The Times They Are A Changing

Change. Change on college campuses in administrative systems has historically been slow. Most universities still admit and manage students using a complex web of people, mail, paper, manual routing and data entry. They know it is inefficient and costly. So why is higher education lagging behind when there is a huge opportunity to gain efficiencies, particularly with the technologies and best practices we have today?

Risks. Rolling out many small software projects across a campus can delay addressing the big picture, and give the illusion of avoiding risk. The need for collaboration and the high cost of managing multiple systems with duplicate data sets are not addressed initially. The risk then becomes in controlling the waste. Somebody is eventually going to add that up.

Future. Though higher education is still in its infancy compared to most sectors, a new awareness of the need to manage unstructured content is gaining momentum. Along with that realization are the departmental process reconfigurations and then it can’t happen fast enough. People in an organization touch and re-use information despite their department of origin. The future is to manage a piece of content once and make it available to those who need it. Continue reading

Are you using your checklists in PeopleSoft?

You probably have one or more document imaging systems that enable you to reduce paper files, but how is your staff managing communication with students? Well designed paperless processes include efficient communication with students by the Offices of Admissions, Enrollment and the Registrar. Much of the communication with prospective students during the information gathering process can be system generated based on document types, system checklists, and timely automatic notifications.

That is just one of the many benefits of using PeopleSoft checklists. University administrative staff can also receive automatic notifications when documents are received and files are complete, shortening cycle times for student evaluation, acceptance and enrollment. Is your system set up to provide the following? Continue reading

Meeting today’s competitive challenges: are you maximizing your information?

Enterprise architecture is transforming the way universities manage and access student information. The movement is toward flexible, SOA-based services that result in more adaptable business processes, better collaboration and more manageable systems. Universities are competing more than ever to admit students that meet specific criteria. Expedient access to the right information during the enrollment cycle and beyond is crucial.

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