For instance, many organisations, particularly in the public sector, will need to comply with the Freedom of Information Act ahead of sweeping new legislation coming into effect in January 2005.
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To be compliant with the National Archives (PRO) 2002 standard for electronic documents and records management, organisations need to supply documents and records to any individual, company, journalist, competitor or interested parties who requests it within 20 days.
This has important legal implications for how organisations manage electronic records – particularly data shared with customers and partners – and especially if they retain information on customers. Companies may have to address the increasing legal requirements to implement a Public Records Office (PRO) approved electronic document and record management (EDRM) solution.
This is because government now requires the application of electronic records management to all parts of the business. In turn, companies must also meet their obligations under both the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act, as well as the Public Records Acts.
An electronic records management system must preserve the content, structure and context of the electronic records, and must ensure that records are registered and that authenticated procedures and audit trails are put in place. This will permit these records to be used as legal evidence, improve corporate accountability and assist organisations in meeting the requirements of internal and external auditors.
All this means efficient archiving and tracking of company intellectual property is now essential.
Making the right choice of EDRM solution
Caution should be exercised when choosing EDRM solutions. Legislation and compliance imposes urgency, but the more care that is taken preparing for the implementation of a system, the more effective the solution will be. Organisations must also factor in the way people will use the system, so that the suppliers are in the best possible position to provide a solution that will meet their needs and identify the likely change management implementations.
When implemented effectively, an EDRM solution should form the fundamental part of an organisation’s knowledge management solution, which includes improvements in business productivity through better access to information and collaboration. Using Microsoft® Office and SharePoint®, the EDRM solution should be considered and implemented as a part of what the company already does and not as a completely separate application. An effective EDRM solution will enable an organisation to meet the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.
The Microsoft solution
Microsoft has developed several products to work in concert with one another to deliver a PRO 2 standards-based solution to enable your employees to generate and collaborate on intellectual property and then, when defined as appropriate, promote that information as a record into the EDRMS.
The Microsoft SharePoint EDRMS Accelerator Solution consists of Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003, Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services, Meridio and K2.NET.
Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services enables documents to be generated and collaborated on, while Meridio stores it and looks after the further lifecycle management of the record. Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003 then enables the collation and search for information over the entire EDRMS.
It also exposes the documents collected through Office 2003 applications via new Research Pane technology, enabling a Word 2003 user to search the EDRMS from within the application to pick up references and other useful information.
Any specific workflow requirements are seamlessly added by use of the K2.NET product.
"Previously a visit would cost us £10 a time. The Microsoft Office System enables us to do a visit for £7, a 30% saving each time."
Ralph Wilkinson, Head of Public Services, London Borough of Lewisham