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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Planning and Implementing Electronic Records Management
Article Type: Publications From: Records Management Journal, Volume 18, Issue 2.
Kelvin SmithFacet PublishingLondon2007ISBN 978-1-85604-615-2£39.95
Keywords: Records management, Information management
This book has a clearly stated aim “to provide practical guidance … to get on and do electronic records management” and an identified target audience “information managers in all organizations” who are facing the task of acquiring an electronic records management system. There is an additional note to say that it is not just about implementing a piece of software. In theory, with this aim, audience and emphasis, it has the potential to be the answer to many, many prayers but does it achieve its goal?
The structure comprises four parts preparation, design, implementation and the future which provide the series of logical steps to follow. Each chapter begins with a rubric explaining its contents, has clear sub-headings and the style is very accessible. In many cases the reader is addressed in the second person and the text reads like speech. In addition there are many very useful, practical tools and much guidance, for example a competency framework, a glossary of terms, a model business case with annexes and sample functional requirements.
Looking in more detail at the content of each part, the design section is the most substantial as one would expect with chapters on main issues for design, conducting an information survey, developing a file plan, appraisal methodology, preservation and access. The other major section is that devoted to implementation which again begins with a chapter on the main issues for implementation, project management, procurement, change management and training. The section on preparation has an interesting chapter on the context which explores the strategic, organisational and compliance contexts. The final part is a very brief (two pages) on where information is heading.
In writing this book the author has taken on a mammoth task. The chapters on file plan, appraisal methodology, preservation and access are detailed and practical in nature, although the reader is left slightly confused about what really is the difference between a business classification scheme and a file plan. Also, given the author’s background, it is not surprising that the perspective and context is often that of a large public organisation with significant historical material and the approach proposed seems to focus more on the records themselves than on the functions which produce them. I was particularly surprised to read the recommendation on page 26 to “get the paper systems working effectively and efficiently, then think about electronic working”.
The implementation section has a tendency to be generic, although there are practical examples related to records management, but has the merit of bringing together, in one place and in user-friendly form, information about project management, procurement and change management.
There is limited coverage of email management and databases, which are key areas when implementing electronic records management and I was very surprised to note that there is no list of sources or bibliography. The coverage of metadata, which is such a key area, lacks depth and practical guidance.
These reservations and limitations apart the book provides a wealth of information about many of the aspects involved in planning and implementing electronic records management. What it does confirm is the complexity and range of people who need to be involved across the whole organisation and as such acts as a useful and accessible introduction to a difficult subject.
Catherine Hare Records Management Consultant, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK