In a recent blog post we looked at the key features of a true hybrid records management software solution. As we saw, not all RM software is up to the task of managing electronic and physical records together in the same environment.
To help you make the right choice of records management software, this week’s blog post looks at another important set of criteria.
Document search is a cornerstone
Every records management software solution needs a great document search tool. Search is at the heart of many essential records-related tasks, including:
- locating the original hard copy to retrieve it
- viewing an electronic copy of the original to save time and simplify workflows
- placing a legal hold on a document in order to extend its life beyond the normal retention period
- making a transfer request for a physical document
- creating reports that list all the documents matching specific criteria.
Indexing is key
Because the search tool is involved in so many tasks, it is important that it can pull up the required document quickly and accurately.
In order to do that, the RM software needs to “know” a lot about every document in the database. These more information stored in its indexing fields, the more powerful your search tool, and the more effective your RM software.
In our experience, a good RM software solution should be able to capture a number of specific index fields which are common to most businesses and industries.
When shopping around for RM software, be sure to check that the search tool is capable of indexing the following information:
- Basic content descriptors, such as file numbers, file titles, subject keywords, company names, personal names, and relevant business functions/activities.
- Origin descriptors, such as individual creator, departmental ‘owner’, and the date on which the record was created or last updated.
- Records retention and disposition indicators, such as file creation date, file closure date, record class code, schedule number, and legal hold status (to be used as needed).
- Any specialized data descriptors unique to the particular industry or business activities which the records support. Possible examples of these descriptors may include a well identification number (for the petroleum industry), policy number (for the insurance industry), or legal counterparty (for law firms).
- Hyperlinks to relevant electronic folders and documents stored either on the system or a repository with links to the system.
- Information describing the current location and sign-out status of relevant physical records.
By indexing a wide variety of fields, the search tool provides multiple options for users to locate the correct document. This pays dividends in terms of efficiency because staff will spend less time tracking down documents and will encounter fewer errors along the way. Ideally, the RM solution should be ready to incorporate these best practices out of the box. This will save you time and money in the implementation.