Managing energy records isn’t easy! Four challenging trends.

Posted by TAB on

Of all the industries in which you could be employed as a records manager, there are probably none more challenging than the energy industry. In our work with many of the world’s largest energy companies, we have seen this first hand. We have also been fortunate to have an opportunity to help our clients solve these challenges through a combination of records management (RM) fundamentals and innovative RM solutions.

In the first of a two-part post, we’ll take a look at some of the trends that are making energy records so difficult to manage. In the follow-up post we’ll explore how some of the best-performing energy companies are solving these challenges.

The changing landscape of energy records

The various issues faced by energy records managers are a direct result of changes taking place both within the industry and within the context of business as a whole. This includes everything from mergers and acquisitions to the increasing use of electronic documents to conduct business.

In our work with energy companies, we have identified several of the most challenging trends for records managers in the energy industry today.

1. Acquisitions and divestitures galore.

For years now, the energy industry has been one of the most active in terms of acquisitions and divestitures. Companies are regularly bought and sold as a way to strengthen market positions and improve corporate performance. All of this spells extra headaches for records management teams. Every transaction requires a careful and time-consuming effort to integrate or divest the records of the asset involved.

2. The consolidation squeeze.

In recent years, many energy companies have consolidated their physical locations in a bid to save costs and improve productivity. Frequent corporate acquisitions have only added to this trend. Unfortunately, every consolidation puts pressure on in-house storage and records management processes. Records management teams that aren’t able to accommodate incoming files have to explore the outsourcing of various RM functions in order to cope. This is a time-consuming process in itself, requiring careful consideration to get right.

3. The rise of imaging.

Across the corporate world, companies are turning to imaging as a means of saving on storage costs and improving productivity. Document imaging has also emerged as a common practice during energy acquisitions and divestitures, helping to facilitate a smoother purchase or sale. However, while imaging can be a great solution, it comes with extra work and added responsibility. Not only does the imaging process need to be planned and executed carefully to ensure quality, it raises tricky compliance questions that records managers are struggling to answer.

4. The emerging “hybrid” records environment.

Volumes of electronic records are growing everywhere, and this is especially true in the energy industry. Whereas electronic documents were mainly about communications in the early days, they are now increasingly a part of how energy companies operate. All of this means that official records are more and more likely to be found in an electronic format. That is… if you’re lucky. Misuse of electronic documents and shared drives is a common occurrence, and it frequently leads to situations in which neither the electronic nor the paper record is complete. As you’d expect, managing this hybrid environment is adding a few extra gray hairs for many RMs in the energy industry.

What would you add to the list? To end on a less depressing note, we’ll remind you to look out for a follow-up post in which we’ll cover some of the best practices that make energy records management a little easier.

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