A four-step approach to onboarding acquired file collections – Part Two

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In last week’s blog post we began to outline a proven methodology for onboarding records from a merger or acquisition.

As we saw, a big part of the process involves getting a handle on the scope and nature of the incoming collections. To do this, we recommended looking at:

  • The overall records landscape: How many collections are we dealing with? What kind of records do they contain? Do we know of any risks or potential issues up front?
  • Records management controls: Have they put in place the fundamentals, such as classification and retention? What processes, software tools and outside providers are involved?
  • The individual collections: What state are they in? Have expired documents been subject to regular, documented disposition? Do filing systems meet end-user needs, and are they compatible with existing systems?

The Final Step: Putting Together the Plan

With all of this information at hand, you’re finally ready to create a plan to address the issues and onboard the various collections.

But how do you do that? Where should you start?

While each individual plan will reflect the unique situation and requirements of the organizations involved, there are several “must-have” elements that every plan should include.

You can use the following items as a checklist to make sure you don’t leave any gaps in your plan.

  • Develop or update the records management policy and governance tools to cover all records.
  • Develop or update the corporate records classification to cover all records.
  • Develop or update records retention schedules, making sure to cover all records and incorporating legal requirements from all relevant jurisdictions. (Acquisitions can expose you to a whole new set of region-specific legal requirements!)
  • Standardize electronic records tracking and management tools, ideally by converting and migrating incoming content to the existing system. (Running parallel systems adds a layer of complexity that is best avoided.)
  • Re-classify and re-label physical and electronic files to reflect the latest classification/retention categories.
  • Convert physical file folders, labels and contents to standard formats.
  • Consolidate redundant or parallel files by combining content and purging unnecessary duplicates.
  • Perform a final audit and review of the above activities and take remedial action to address any errors.

Did we forget to mention at the outset that this can be a massive undertaking?

The good news is that it’s all manageable when you take a discipline approach like the one we have outlined.

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