Study Finds Firms Lack Confidence in Records Practices - InformationWeek

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Study Finds Firms Lack Confidence in Records Practices

Respondents to AIIM's annual "State of the Enterprise Content Management Industry" study aren't terribly confident about their organizations' ability to product electronic records for legal or regulatory challenges. They also say they're turning to technology to help solve the problem, yet corporate policies and practices may be the real stumbling block.

More than half of corporate executives (54 percent) have little or no confidence in their organization's ability to retrieve vital e-mail messages, while nearly half (47 percent) have little or no faith in their firm's electronic information management processes and procedures. These are just two of the standout conclusions (see tables) of a study being released this week by AIIM, the Enterprise Content Management Association, at this week's AIIM Expo Conference & Exhibition in Boston.

The findings of AIIM's 2007 State of the ECM Industry Study are alarming in that many firms appear to be ill prepared to meet recently revised Federal Rules of Civil Procedures (FRCP) that went into effect last December. The new rules stipulate that companies involved in civil litigation must be able to provide electronically stored data as evidence earlier in the discovery process then ever before. To avoid penalties or lost courtroom battles, firms must understand where relevant data is stored and how to produce that information.

AIIM's study is based on interviews with 1,226 end users, with 52 percent from the US and 22 percent from the UK and Europe. More than half, 56 percent, represented large firms with more than 1,000 employees while 26 percent hailed from organizations with 101-1000 employees. All respondents ranked the top-five problems encountered in implementing document and records management programs as follows:

1. Underestimated process and organizational issues (43%)
2. Lack of knowledge or training among internal staff (32%)
3. Project derailed by internal politics (30%)
4. Uneven usage due to poor procedures and lack of enforcement (29%)
5. Underestimated the effort to distill and migrate content (21%)

AIIM President John Mancini commented in this week's Q&A interview with AIIM President John Mancini, "The temptation is to think that you can just buy a great product that will solve all the problems, but it requires both technology and process. Unfortunately, it's not a matter of a simple fix."

Despite results showing policies, practices and procedures as the weak point in information management effectiveness, respondents expressed keen interest in a number of document-, record- and process-related technologies, ranking the top five as:

1. Electronic document management (61%)
2. Electronic records management (56%)
3. Business process management (54%)
4. E-mail management (52%)
5. Web content management (42%)

More encouragingly, the study found that the 31 percent of respondents who said their organizations had "strategic ECM" (defined as deploying or implementing an enterprise scale document and records management capability) ranked their firms as having good-to-excellent effectiveness in managing, controlling and using electronic information - five times more effective than those with "no ECM." Those with strategic ECM ranked their executive and IT staff as having four times higher "records competency" than those with no ECM.

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