information governance managementLast month we discussed finding a vendor and selecting software for an electronic document management system. So what do you do while the procurement people fight over the contract and you’re waiting to get on the schedule to install this magic box that will solve all your world’s problems? How about gathering together all the things that will customize your new system to work within your organization? Regardless of what system you implement there are certain things that every one of them needs to work effectively. Things like your records and retention schedule, access control schema and metadata lists. Some of these you already have, but now is the time to get them in shape and ready for when the vendor walks in the door because it will speed up the implementation process.

Let’s start with the easy ones first! You have already created an Access List and a Records and Retention Schedule. With a little bit of work you can reformat these into basic design specifications that any vendor can use to configure the new system to meet your needs. Here’s how:

Access Control List

Take the access control list that we developed several months ago and lay it out in a grid based on the levels of responsibility for the Information Governance program (remember CRUD?) within each department. Label one block for each access level. The next step is to fill in the grid with the department’s personnel until you have everyone’s access level covered. That’s it! You now have a basic form you can use with the vendor and your IT department to communicate the security you want for the new system.

Records and Retention Schedule

The Records and Retention Schedule is the very first artifact we created when we first started developing the Information Governance program. We said at the time that you should do a periodic review of the schedule, so now is the perfect time to do this as well! It is important as you review the schedule that you pay attention to new records that may have appeared since the schedule was first developed. The Records and Retention Schedule was created using the “Big Bucket” theory. These big buckets are exactly what vendors need to configure document types in a document management system, the retention periods and metadata associated with them once you have an example of each document.

Now it’s time to dig a bit deeper. Your next step is to create standardized keyword lists for your document types. Why? Because having a standardized list to choose from makes it easier on everyone not only to get a document into the system, but to find it when you need it again. This is not something you should try on your own, in fact it is the perfect thing to get everyone involved in! Here’s how:

Keyword Workshop/Survey

Look back at your Record and Retention Schedule. The “Big Buckets” are probably segmented by those documents you typically find in each department, right? So who best to use when you are creating a list of keywords to associate with the documents then the people that work with them every day? There are lots of ways to engage these people, but ultimately you want to get as many responses from everyone as possible. It’s very important for everyone to feel that they contributed to this process. This makes for a better end product and also gives each individual a sense that they have “skin in the game” which leads to greater acceptance of the new system once it’s implemented.

An easy way to get started is to label a blank sheet of paper with the title of a document, one sheet per document, and have everyone write down as many words they associate with them as they can below the title on the page. You can achieve the same results in larger departments using a survey emailed out to everyone. When the exercise is complete you have ready made keyword list! Your vendor can then take this list and create customized fields within the system to speed up the checkin process.

These are all simple design specifications your vendor will need to configure the system during implementation. By starting now, you will be in a much better position to drive the process more effectively for your organization and get a better product designed to meet your specific needs. Most of the better systems will follow this same type of process, but there are some that will just give you “the basic setup” unless otherwise directed. Either way wouldn’t it be better to be ready for them when they arrive? It will save time, effort and money with the added benefit of having a better system for everyone. See you next month!

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