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Tips for Implementing Electronic Document and Record Management Systems (eDRMS)

Sep 19, 2018 | Records Management

Implementing electronic document and records management systems (eDRMS) is a major undertaking, requiring a significant investment of time, money and organisational resources. The overall process can be challenging for organisations, especially when there is a large volume of information held across repositories, with numerous legislative policies and standards that need to be considered.

There are several critical areas we recommend organisations pay particular attention to when implementing an eDRMS, as they can directly impact the project’s success or failure. Keep in mind that the complexity of records management systems can vary greatly, especially the level of involvement required from end users and non-records staff. This will directly impact the learning curve, ease of adoption, and level of change management and training required.

Here are some important tips to help make your eDRMS implementation project a success.

Top Tips for eDRMS Implementation

Assemble the Right Project Team

Selecting the right team is critical to a project’s success. From executive leadership through to the project manager and project team, each party plays a part in ensuring the implementation goes as smoothly as possible.

Executives and senior leadership play an essential role in times of change, and most white papers about characteristics of an effective eDRMS, as it will directly impact user adoption, recordkeeping compliance, and the overall success of the implementation. Some points to consider include user friendliness and the level of automation offered to improve efficiency, the ability to manage content across different repositories as well as varying content types, and the level of security provided. If your eDRMS requirements have been clearly defined, this will give you a strong basis for your evaluation.

eDRMS Implementation Project Plan

An integral part of any successful eDRMS implementation, is developing a thorough project plan that outlines clear deliverables, key milestones and due dates. Your organisation will need to determine where the project plan will be maintained and reported on, a budget will need to be identified, along with SMART goals (objectives that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely). Project risks will also need to be identified, with steps that can be put in place in order to mitigate these risks.

Open and frequent communication is an essential component in the success of any project implementation, therefore we recommend creating a communication plan. This plan should highlight how often project stakeholders, employees and end users should be liaised with, and communication should begin early on in the project timeline.

A plan should also be created for change management. Records management systems vary greatly in terms of how involved end users are with the system and how much the system impacts the way employees work. Therefore, the level of change management required will be greatly dependent upon the eDRMS chosen.

Develop a Clear Information Management Framework

Understanding where organisational information is kept, how it is retained, the format it’s in, and how it will be managed upon implementation, is key to developing a clear information framework for your organisation. You will also need have a clear understanding of your regulatory recordkeeping requirements, which affects retention and disposal schedules, and how files and records are classified. We touch on this in the next section.

New or revised business rules and procedures will need to be defined in order to support and guide the use of your newly implemented eDRMS. You will need to determine whether you will be utilising naming conventions or controlled language for improved information management, how duplicate content will be managed, what metadata will need to be captured, and what level of access users will have.

Understand Legislative Requirements

A clear understanding of your organisation’s regulatory requirements will help pave the way for successfully implementing an electronic document and records management system. Competing policies and standards make this a difficult task, however the success of an entire implementation can quickly be derailed if crucial legislation is ignored.

Outline Migration Requirements

Content migration is a complex process, especially when implementing electronic document and records management systems. Having extensive migration experience helps with anticipating and mitigating commonly encountered issues. When outlining data migration requirements with clients, we assess the state of an organisation’s information including;

  • How many files there are and the format of these files
  • Where files live; computer/network drives, portable drives or cloud repositories
  • How much organisational content there is and whether the new eDRMS platform has adequate storage
  • What needs to be migrated and how non-records will be managed
  • How information will fit into new taxonomies, business classification schemes, retention and disposal schedules, and metadata standards

Most organisations have a lot of duplicate content and dark data. As part of the migration plan, we work with clients to determine how structured and unstructured data will be found, cleansed and managed in the future.

Pilot Before Roll-Out

Before going live, it is imperative to undergo adequate testing to ensure the eDRMS works as expected in the new environment. A testing phase will help ensure integrations work, data is mapped correctly, functionality works as expected, user access levels are correct and there are no unexpected glitches.

A pilot test is essentially a trial run or ‘dress rehearsal’; a small-scale version of the full implementation, and arguably the most important step in testing. Pilot testing can help identify and alleviate issues before they’re a major issue.

To get the most from your testing, involve both end users and system administrators. Identify functionality that needs to be tested and develop corresponding test cases to be executed in test environments, to help your team methodically and logically work through the testing phase.

Train eDRM System Users

Training is another important element that should be factored into an implementation plan, and the level of training required will be closely tied to the complexity of the eDRMS. Offering adequate, comprehensive training is essential in ensuring employees feel confident and embrace the new system. If you plan to deliver the training yourself, consider the following;

  • Include as much hands-on practice or simulation as possible – people learn by doing
  • Encourage discussion, questions, and feedback; better to know upfront if the training isn’t adequately preparing your team
  • Where possible, break training up into smaller sessions that are easier to digest
  • Develop step-by-step support guides to supplement the training sessions
  • Have support personnel available to ‘floor walk’ and provide ad-hoc support
  • Offer follow up training or Q&A sessions

There are a great number of benefits organisations will realise when adopting and implementing electronic document and records management systems. These include improved information governance and legislative compliance, increased document security and control, improved operational efficiency, automation and collaboration to name a few.  However, it is an intricate process with numerous opportunities for key steps to be missed, or for things (big and small) to go wrong.

Having a knowledgeable, experienced eDRMS implementation specialist to help you though the process is crucial to ensuring the process goes as smoothly as possible, with little disruption to your organisation. If you’re considering an implementation project, get in touch with our qualified team of records management consultants.

Kylie Lack

Kylie Lack

Lead Technical & Business Consultant

Kylie is a records and information management specialist with a wealth of industry knowledge. She drives information excellence in eDRMS and ECM software design and implementation. Drawing on her analytical acumen, technical aptitude and expert project management skills, she also employs our proven methodologies and industry best practices to deliver valuable insight and support for our clients.

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