Meeting the Storage Needs of the Future


Many organisations have invested heavily in state of the art electronic management systems that are not being proactively managed. It is imperative that organisations understand that their current records will be needed in the future, and manages them accordingly.

In these economic times you may consider sending your records to a commercial records management centre or you could examine moving to electronic management. Using commercial companies may be more cost effective than carrying out this work inhouse. It may also solve a space issue quickly. But before you consider doing any of this you should examine what you are retaining and why, and establish whether you are complying with all of the legislation such as;
• Data Protection Act 1998 and Data Protection (Amendment) Act 2003,
• Ecommerce Act 2000
• The National Archiving Act 1986

Changes in legislation in Ireland and worldwide has affected Records Management in Ireland. "Records Management is becoming an increasingly important part of corporate governance in organisations of all sizes worldwide" Office of the Information Commissioner Ireland (OIC 2008)

The media highlight regularly on issues with regard to the management, handling and loss of records and information. "Caterers had access to patient files", headlines from an article written by Paul Melia in the Irish Independent on Monday 15th March 2010, where staff in a Kerry General Hospital were able to access confidential patient information held on a €60 million Health Services Executive computerised system called Integrated Patient Management Systems (IPMS)

Losses and disasters in records and information can range from and are not limited to fire, floods, loss or theft of personal data.

Donnellan (2006) reported an inquiry into the hysterectomies that were carried out by Dr. Neary in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. He reported that 44 out of 188 patient records were missing and 38 related to patients of Dr. Neary. This is a shocking newspaper article that implied that more than one person within the hospital was involved in a deliberate culling of records.
Harry McGee (2008) wrote an article on the laptop that was stolen from the offices of the Comptroller and Auditor General and also highlighting that 16 laptops have been stolen from the office over the past 10 years. The laptops containing names of 380,000 social welfare recipients were stolen from the head quarters of the Department of Social and Family Affairs on 14th April 2007. There was no lock on the office door to the 4th floor at the time. PPS numbers, addresses and some bank details of 10,000 public servants were contained on another lap top. It would be a reasonable assumption more could have been taken during these burglaries that we have not yet heard about in relation to hardcopy records.

SERIOUS CONCERNS and questions have been raised following the discovery of thousands of confidential patient records in a former landfill site in east Cork.

The medical records, which date back to the 1970s and early 1980s, contain sensitive information including patient names and addresses of adults and children, and details of medical conditions and treatments.

McDonagh (2008)
When examining your current records you may decide that they would be better stored offsite either in a warehouse, self storage facility or with a Records Management (RM)company .

There are a number of factors to be considered when choosing where or how to store your records offsite. When choosing where to store your records you should include cost, security, organic growth, quality accreditations, reputation and customer service. ISO/ TR 15489:2 (2001, Clause 4.3.7) looks specifically at "record storage decision".

Organisations intend to capture a record then "implies an intention to store it". The main factors are that "records are protected, accessible and managed in a cost effective manner." They should undertake a risk analysis when choosing their physical storage and handling options.

Once you have dealt with your current records you are now in a position to implement a preservation strategy. Both the National Archives and PRONI have preservation strategies available on the web. There are areas that you can research to help you on this journey.
• Review the ISO Standards.
• Join the RMS to get up to date information on how to store into the future.
• Go to records management and information consultants if you find that all of the information is a mine field.
• Speak to EDRMS companies.

It is important to remember that for hard copy records you must review the quality and ink used, conditions stored, racking required, staff to manage, and the way in which they are to be managed.

Record Manager's are busy reviewing existing records to contemplate what they should do in the future. Records Management in Southern Ireland is primarily hard copy document storage which some organisations manage extremely well such as the Revenue Commissioners and, some find it a struggle.

Today at least 90% of records are created electronically. In the 1980s the typewriter was replaced by the personal computer (PC). In the 1990s PC's became more affordable for businesses. Consequently the concept of electronic recording was created and records could be stored electronically. This ensured that the record can be copied easily. The record is the most important part about an electronic record not the physical carrier.
McKenzie, (1990)

As a result of the electronic record some companies started using electronic vaulting.
The remote storage of magnetic records by sending files and data across telecommunication lines to offsite storage centres.
Philips (1993)

Electronic records and paper records are growing in the majority of organisations and future storage

requirements of these records will have a huge impact on most organisations. AIIM surveyed 700 company's and found that "Electronic Records Management is still playing catch up with paper" shows that the volume of paper records is still increasing in over half of organisations and 21% finally shows signs of decreasing.

Electronic Records are still not being taken as seriously as that of paper records, We found that over a third of organisations, if challenged, would not be confident that their electronic records had not been changed, deleted or accessed. These companies would be at a major disadvantage in any legal action-defending or prosecuting.

John Mancini President of AIIM


AIIM in its Annual "State of the ECM Industry" found that managing electronic office documents is still a challenge for 47% of organisations, modern business communication channels-instant messages, text messages, blogs and wikis are uncontrolled and off the corporate radar for 75% of companies.

For the future storage of electronic data companies are researching the option of storing information on the Web. A term commonly used to store data is that it is stored in a "computer cloud".

Cloud computing is Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software and information are used by computers and other devices on-demand, like electricity.

Microsoft in September 2009 opened its first 'mega data centre' in Dublin to meet continued growth in demand for its Online, Live and Cloud services. Organisations should take into consideration where this data is physically stored, security of the information, access and data protection laws. Under the Data Protection Act information should be stored within the EU.

What about retrieving "forgotten" data from legacy systems in e-discovery which is normally driven by litigation? What are the consequences of not being able to produce this information under a court order?

To give you an idea of the growth in Electronic Records the USA National Archives had to put in place an emergency plan to cope with the Electronic records of George W. Bush they were concerned that their new
€144 million computer system might not be able to handle the volume of data as it was 50 times more than the former President Bill Clintons. (pg 27, RMS Bulletin, March 09, issue 148)

The paperless office is still a myth. Some adventurous records and information managers have started implementing EDRMS, which they are hoping in the long run will manage their electronic records and reduce the amount of paper, therefore getting a huge return on investment. The starting point for all EDRMS is to get your paper system organised so you will have a blueprint of what your organisation needs going forward.

The way people communicate is constantly chang- ing; social media is becoming an increasingly popular way to communicate, with Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook taking more and more people away from traditional forms of messaging. Organisations need to consider how this information is captured and stored for future needs. Many organisations, including the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) bar access to social networking websites as standard.

If you are looking at how you are going to store your records in the future, below are some of the steps that you could take;

• Undertake an Information Records Management Audit that will;
• Clearly identify what you are trying to achieve;
• Identify what records you are trying to capture and where they are currently stored;
• Implement a migration plan;
• Decide where you are going to store the records and does it comply with legislation and is it secure?
• Ask for help;

Remember that you can manage your records yourself or outsource the whole Records Management function.

Dorothy Quinn
Archives Consulting Services

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