Designing easy-to-use, yet certifiable document and records management systems for government agencies

11 October 2011 | Zdenek Jiricek, Industry Solutions Director, Worldwide Public Sector

Government agencies can realize considerable benefits with a common, easy-to-use, yet certifiable document and records management system – measured by increased work productivity and reduced IT management costs. However, with history as our reference, government agencies often have struggled to reach this desired outcome.

Traditionally, governments around the globe have deployed two types of document and records management systems. The first type can be characterized as dedicated, complex, and locally certified systems. The second type, considered generally as “light-weight” systems, are easier to use – particularly for managing team documents – but may not be viewed as function-rich and compliant with local regulations.

In many cases, we’ve seen a combination of these two systems in play, in which the “light-weight” system is used for ad-hoc collaboration, while the more robust, dedicated (but complex) system is used for compliant records management to support all the needed retention and archiving features. Where this is the case, access to the dedicated records management system is typically limited to “record keepers” and a select group of managers. Access for “normal users” in these scenarios is typically managed by maintaining additional sets of access rights and requiring normal users to interface via their team intranets. The result? Redundant storage and/or multiple, inconsistent versions of the same documents. In addition, utilization of these dedicated records management systems is typically limited to 5-10 percent of information workers in the organization, as we’ve heard from many of our government customers.

I’m proud to report that today, things are changing. From our work with customers, we’ve seen many agencies responding to the demand for a single enterprise content management system that can cover all common media types and manage publishing and collaboration on both internal and external sites – all under a locally certifiable records management system.

For example, the Australian Digital Recordkeeping Initiative (ADRI) – formed to articulate and promote a common approach to digital recordkeeping in Australia – has looked at the ad-hoc document management efforts of the local agencies using Microsoft SharePoint, and suggested good practices for that kind of office records management. This particular initiative was endorsed by the International Council of Archivists (ICA) (see their Overview and Functional Requirements documents), and later became the basis for the newly adopted International Standard ISO 16175. This new standard builds on the previous ISO 15489, while further specifying functional requirements for records in electronic office environments. Also, responding to the new development, Microsoft Australia commissioned a 3rd-party review of SharePoint 2007 and 2010 against the ISO 16175 candidate specs, delivered by Wise Technology Management, and overseen by National Archives Australia (NAA) for probity. The review covered:

  • Implementing SharePoint 2010 as a Compliant Information Management Platform (Read the whitepaper)

  • Analysis of SharePoint 2007 and 2010 against ICA ERMS Requirements V2.0 (Read the whitepaper) – including a detailed list of how SharePoint compares to these requirements, and what add-on components are needed

In the United States, we’ve worked with partner GimmalSoft in an effort to launch the first Department of Defense-compliant records management solution ((DoD) 5015.02) built natively on top of SharePoint 2010, ie. not using any other dedicated records management back-end. This “Compliance Suite for Microsoft SharePoint” by GimmalSoft was announced on September 29, 2011. The solution is already listed among the DoD 5015.02 compliant solutions.

Similarly, we’ve worked with solution partners globally to help them deliver other certifiable government solutions with SharePoint 2010. Of note, I’d like to highlight:

I look forward to coming back to this topic in my future contributions. For now, let me suggest one example of a large government agency – the Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture – that met their functional and compliance objectives this way.

Read our recent case study, in which the Agricultural Marketing Service’s CIO Doug Bailey is quoted, “We created the Records Center using our existing investments… and minimal programming resources. SharePoint Server 2010 helps us manage our costs wisely and keep our fees as low as possible.”

Have a comment or opinion on this post? Let me know @Microsoft_Gov. Have a question for the author? Please e-mail us at ongovernment@microsoft.com.

Zdenek Jiricek
Industry Solutions Director, Worldwide Public Sector

About the Author

Zdenek Jiricek | Industry Solutions Director, Worldwide Public Sector

Zdenek is responsible for developing strategies that enable governments and solution partners worldwide to effectively transform the latest technologies into leading solutions for boosting worker productivity and modernizing the workplace.