TRIM, or any EDRMS, configuration needs to serve two purposes. Firstly the various objects within the system need to enable records managers and officers to effectively manage records. This covers maintaining the records in accordance with legislative requirements, including both retention and security. In addition it includes easily retrieving records or information requested.
The second purpose the configuration must serve is creating the recordkeeping environment that will be embraced, or as a minimum not rejected, by staff who must create records. The configuration that makes the life of a records manager easier is frequently not conducive to motivating an end user to create records. Over the years we’ve developed a TRIM training health check. This article looks at five key configuration activities relating to record registration that impact the recordkeeping environment and therefore motivation of end users to use TRIM.
1. RECORD TYPES
There is no definitive number of record types an organisation should create. However each record type must have a clear purpose for use, and be limited by default to the groups within the organisation who should be using them. Where a long list of record types is visible to many, but only to be used by a few there will be confusion and errors. ‘Legal’ and ‘Personnel’ record types can easily be limited to the few who need access; ‘Ministerial’ and ‘Invoice’ record types would generally be available for all but the process they are to utilised in can be clearly defined and controlled.
When the purpose of record types overlaps confusion reigns. An example is a user has available to them a ‘Hunter Region’ record type and a ‘Maitland Office’ record type. Maitland is a town within the Hunter, so how do they easily know which record type to use when? Another common confusion is when there is both an ‘Electronic’ and a ‘Physical & Electronic’ record type. Your record creator may be uncertain whether there will be physical records, and when there is confusion there is also frustration with the system overall. Convenient though it may be for the records manager, folders with a combination of physical and electronic records can be easily discovered by different methods.
2. DEFAULT SECURITY
Overly restrictive default security is very common. This may be in the form of having record types for each business unit which by default are only accessible by that unit. Although record access may be able to be changed within the access group, the record type cannot be shared with other business units, therefore limiting cross functional collaboration. This type of configuration severely restricts the business benefits the end user, and the organisation, can gain from TRIM.
Or it may be there is an organisation wide record type with default record access to small business units. Typically the feedback from the business to determine the correct default security is that they want it to be tight. However business units do not operate in isolation. A simple instance is timesheets created in the Communications unit need to be accessed by the unit responsible for entry of payroll information. The end result can be that 90% of folders created are actually accessed for information by other units. Frustration occurs when people realise they need to change security on the majority of records to function, or when it’s not changed and vital information cannot be accessed. It is much simpler to have open default security, and only a minimal requirement to change it on creation.
3. REGISTRATION FIELDS
It is common knowledge that too many metadata fields on the General tab of a record form is a source of frustration to users, but it is still just as common to see overly complex forms in organisations struggling with end user adoption. Regardless of how many fields are mandatory, the perception is built that creating a record is a complex and time consuming activity. Much simpler to save to the shared drive!
Keep it simple and use default completion of fields such as dates and author where possible to expedite registration.
Invest time in creating a Location list that reflects the operations of your business. And then promote the use of it to end users. Location lists set up in the early days of EDRMS were frequently configured to the requirements of physical records management. They do not support best practice in using actions, advanced searches and reports. Location lists require a high level of maintenance, but it pays dividends in end user confidence.
Owner Locations should reflect current owners, and by default records created need to capture this at a detailed level. Home Locations are an area of total failure by the majority of organisations. Whilst off-site storage is generally set up, on-site storage locations are neglected. Accuracy and currency of Position Titles are critical to confidence. End users will revert to individual names when setting access controls if they are not, leading to the inability for the appropriate people to access the information when the incumbent moves on.
External Locations provide another set of challenges in achieving diligent and accurate creation. However strict maintaining and converting of ghost locations, combined with education, will achieve a useful External Location list.
5. SCOPE NOTES
Selecting the correct BCS function and activity is challenging as people start to use TRIM. Well defined scope notes that are consistent in format and specify what is not included as well as what is are essential to building confidence. Although it is initially time consuming to write quality scope notes and test their interpretation, it is a once off activity.
Organisations with poor scope notes will experience end users creating a limited range of records within a specific area of the BCS. Increased adoption to a broader range of records will be difficult without quality scope notes, and an education campaign will be required as users will have fallen into the habit of not reviewing the scope notes to make their BCS selection.