Electronic Records Management Systems
An electronic records management system (ERM) is a computer program (or set of programs) used to track and store records. The term is distinguished from imaging and document management systems that specialize in paper capture and document management respectively. ERM systems commonly provide specialized security and auditing functionalities tailored to the needs of records managers.
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has endorsed the U.S. Department of Defense standard 5015.2 as an "adequate and appropriate basis for addressing the basic challenges of managing records in the automated environment that increasingly characterizes the creation and use of records." Records Management Vendors can be certified as compliant with the DoD 5015.2-STD after verification from the Joint Interoperability Test Command which builds test case procedures, writes detailed and summary final reports on 5015.2-certified products, and performs on-site inspection of software.
Records management, or RM, is the practice of maintaining the records of an organisation from the time they are created up to their eventual disposal. This may include classifying, storing, securing, and destruction (or in some cases, archival preservation) of records.
A record can be either a tangible object or digital information: for example, birth certificates, medical x-rays, office documents, databases, application data, and e-mail. Records management is primarily concerned with the evidence of an organization's activities, and is usually applied according to the value of the records rather than their physical format.
The Practice of Records Management may involve:
Planning the information needs of an organisation
Identifying information requiring capture
Creating, approving, and enforcing policies and practices regarding records, including their organization and disposal
Developing a records storage plan, which includes the short and long-term housing of physical records and digital information
Identifying, classifying, and storing records
Coordinating access to records internally and outside of the organization, balancing the requirements of business confidentiality, data privacy, and public access.
Executing a retention policy on the disposal of records which are no longer required for operational reasons; according to organizational policies, statutory requirements, and other regulations this may involve either their destruction or permanent preservation in an archive.
Records management principles and automated records management systems aid in the capture, classification, and ongoing management of records throughout their lifecycle. Such a system may be paper based (such as index cards as used in a library), or may be a computer system, such as an electronic records management application.
ISO 15489:2001 states that records management includes:
setting policies and standards;
assigning responsibilities and authorities;
establishing and promulgating procedures and guidelines;
providing a range of services relating to the management and use of records;
designing, implementing and administering specialized systems for managing records; and
integrating records management into business systems and processes.
Managing Electronic Records
The general principles of records management apply to records in any format. Digital records (almost always referred to as electronic records) raise specific issues. It is more difficult to ensure that the content, context and structure of records is preserved and protected when the records do not have a physical existence.
Functional requirements for computer systems to manage electronic records have been produced by the US Department of Defense, the National Archives of England & Wales and the European Commission,whose MoReq (Model Requirements for the Management of Electronic Records) specification has been translated into at least twelve languages and is used beyond the borders of Europe. Development of MoReq was initiated by the DLM Forum, funded by the European Commission.
Particular concerns exist about the ability to access and read electronic records over time, since the rapid pace of change in technology can make the software used to create the records obsolete, leaving the records unreadable. A considerable amount of research is being undertaken to address this, under the heading of digital preservation. The Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) located in Melbourne, Australia published the Victorian Electronic Records Strategy (VERS) which includes a standard for the preservation, long-term storage and access to permanent electronic records. The VERS standard has been adopted by all Victorian Government departments. A digital archive has been established by PROV to enable the general public to access permanent records.