A number of challenges arise when trying to manage electronic and physical records together in the “hybrid” records environment. For example, how do you keep track of everything when a single document can exist at the same time in both paper and electronic formats? How do you know which copy of a document is the official record? Does the official record have to be in paper format, or will an electronic record be OK?
The challenges of managing the hybrid records environment are well documented on this blog. And thankfully, a best practice approach to hybrid records management can help overcome many of these challenges.
Hybrid software requires special consideration
Unfortunately, best practices won’t compensate for having the wrong RM software tool. If you need software to manage electronic and physical records together, the only option is to choose a solution that is purpose-built for the hybrid environment. Traditional file tracking software won’t cut it, and neither will a pure electronic content management system.
To be a true hybrid solution, the software should meet your physical and electronic RM needs in an integrated fashion.
Such a system should:
- Allow you to access and manage electronic and physical records in one system with a common user interface.
- Allow you to define document types and their retention and disposition requirements, and track whether they have to be managed physically, electronically or both. This enables the convenient use of electronic copies while ensuring compliance with retention requirements.
- Be able to co-exist with ECM and other systems so that documents and records can be made available for online workflow processes and collaboration, while still maintaining the lifecycle management requirements of the official record.
- Integrate established and well-designed physical records management technologies such as bar code scanners. This makes it easy to find documents, maintain order in file rooms, and to maintain accurate records within the system.
- Be able to easy manage physical and electronic retention schedules and allow updates without extensive programming changes by the program vendor.
Managing records in the hybrid environment is a big challenge. These features will ensure that your software solution is up to the job!