Electronic records in disarray

27th September 2009

Electronic records are twice as likely to be unmanaged compared to paper records, according to industry researcher AIIM, with 26% of organisations admitting that no records management disciplines are applied to the majority of their electronic records. AIIM also found that only 56% of organisations have a procedure for placing a freeze on electronic records in the event of pending litigation, compared to 71% for paper records. In addition, IT staff rather than records management staff are expected to carry out records management processes on electronic documents and emails.

Based on over 700 responses, the AIIM research report entitled “Electronic Records Management - still playing catch-up with paper” shows that the volume of paper records is still increasing in over half of organisations, but in 21% it is finally showing signs of going down. Meanwhile, 70% of respondents report that the volume of electronic records is increasing rapidly, with none reporting a decrease. Over half of the respondents now scan newly received paper items and file them electronically. On the other hand, as well as directly filing incoming paper documents, 40% admit that they print newly generated electronic documents and emails for the purpose of filing them as paper records.

John Mancini, President of AIIM, comments, “I’m concerned that management of electronic records is 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 inappropriately accessed. For organisations over 5,000 employees it rises to 43%. These companies would be at a major disadvantage in any legal action – defending or prosecuting.”

The survey found that 13% of organisations are already using dedicated e-discovery tools with a further 22% planning to do so. Forty percent use functions within their ECM (Enterprise Content Management) or ERM (Electronic Records Management) systems for e-discovery, and 11% have invested in Enterprise Search to help with this.

Part of the AIIM Industry Watch series, the full “Electronic Records Management - still playing catch-up with paper” report is free to download from the AIIM website – http://www.aiim.org.uk/research.