‘Tis the season of purge and replace for records managers

Easy(-er) records management for school boards and local government

This time last year, when I managed customer support and consulting for an ECM reseller, there was a high level of tension within our school board clients. Close to the end of the school year, records managers start digging through the various physical and digital records stores in preparation for next year. During this time records are organized into those that are old enough to purge, and physical records that should be digitized so they can be stored for the next 5-40 years. Preparations are also made for the capture of the next years group of student records – which might come as digital or physical forms.

This process is often made even more complex by software that was either designed to compartmentalize records management, or make the whole repository a record, thereby frustrating information governance with either too narrow or too broad a view of available documentation. I’ve been in enough school board, small town, and county government offices to recognize that software of this kind just does not offer a practical solution.

What school boards need is a tool that simplifies their daily work and can be used for records management. Process level automation allows one user to have a single view of all documents that they require without the need to deal with retention or any other aspect of records management, unless that is a requirement.

ApplicationXtender provides simple easy to use views that can be used across different tasks

This process level records management is exactly how OpenText ApplicationXtender manages records versus normal documents. This allows users to work across record and non-record folders and concentrate on work rather than on the type of documents that they are handling. For school boards, where nearly every department has multiple people handling records, this is the key to keeping their records management running optimally.

Paper records for retiring teachers, for example, are often owned by the HR department, but handled by the same records center as the students. The records center is responsible for management, digitization, classification and validation of records of all types and users require permissions to upload, modify and delete records of any kind for the purposes of data validation and deleting copies.

Typically, it is a different person responsible for fulfilling student records requests. This person needs access to search and print-but not modify records and it must be limited to student records. Same with the HR/faculty manager.

Practically speaking, for school boards, records are managed by either consolidating records authority into a single records center or, alternatively, with a series of department based super users.

Using ApplicationXtender you have extraordinary control of what users can do to a document-divided by process. There are over 50 individual checkboxes that can be combined for tight control of documents in each process. These permissions can be set at the group level or individual—and you can copy them so you don’t have to manually set rules each time for different individuals or groups. The rules or conditions that can be set are very granular but checkboxes have easily understandable real world names. This allows people to easily converse about what they need to do rather than get stuck trying to recall technical definitions.

Retention management screenshots
ApplicationXtender supports records management automation and simplified user tasks for retention management of files.

This means that employees do not have to be mindful of what folder a document is in or email the records manager for a copy. You could even have casual users, and this happens all the time in smaller school boards and municipalities, such as a group of summer students, perform the initial upload and adding of metadata from predefined lists. The records manager would retain control through a review workflow reducing the need for them to spend all of their time on upload and metadata capture.

As ApplicationXtender licensing is concurrent, organizations would not need to increase license count just for summer students. You would just need a Summer student group in AX that designates their privileges. You can limit their ability to upload and metadata from a predefined list—you can block them from searching for their friends records or any other of the things that summer students might be likely to do.

Retention management screen

Another aspect that will make records management easier is the retention manager wizard which uses the same search and user interfaces for disposition or archive processes. With ApplicationXtender you can have the records staff who know the date ranges kick-off the retention workflow—yet keep the control of retention scheduling, archive and final approval of disposition in the hands of the records manager.

Lastly, many of our partners, have built simple, in-tool methods that take advantage of the same user experience to find student records boxes by saving the log in the system. This means that during searches for student records, the records staff do not need to know if a student record has been scanned in or is in a box. Some search tools use the metadata to provide users with file-type information as well as the location of the physical copy, if necessary.

This combination of simple, user efficiency focused features, granular permissions and accessibility control are what make ApplicationXtender a valuable back-end repository for any size of organization with complex day-to-day records handling requirements.

Chris Wynder

Chris is the Product Marketing Manager for ApplicationXtender. He has a wealth of information management knowledge, particularly in highly regulated industries. He shares his deep belief in analysis and taxonomy as the basis of good information governance in his blogs.

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One Comment

  1. Interesting article — and a walk down memory lane! I was a newspaper reporter in central California in the 1990s, covering K-12 education and local government. As such, I attended meetings of school boards, city councils, and various local governments several nights a week and visited campuses every day. I saw all the paperwork generated by their daily activities and government-mandated records management policies — and all the file clerks and administrative people responsible for handling those massive stacks of paper.
    Hopefully, now those dozens of file cabinets at each office have been replaced by a few hard drives (safely backed up and well-protected), and modern digital records management has streamlined the workflow.

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