When should I consider replacing our companies Records Management Software?
I’ve been asked that question at least a dozen times over the last few months, and it’s a valid, thoughtful question.
For over a decade, companies have relied on one or two particular software products to manage and/or govern its information. Now, these “Go To” products are completely outdated and are considered to be sunset products.
Before answering the question at hand, let’s define what product sunsetting means, how product sunsetting effects business processes and then discuss what your company can do right now.
What is product sunsetting?
According to TechTarget, products and services are often sunsetted when they are no longer sufficiently profitable or when a company decides to pivot its focus. More often than not, this means that the product is no longer supported by the developer and the company won’t release any new versions or future updates. The technology has been targeted for extinction.
In addition, TechTarget indicated in a similar article entitled “Does running end-of-life software lead to compliance violations?”, that running software that is unsupported by the vendor not only violates a number of regulatory requirements, but also poses a significant security risk to your organization. When vendors completely discontinue support for a product, they no longer produce patches for security vulnerabilities identified in the product. Therefore, organizations running end-of-life software may be subject to vulnerabilities that they have no ability to correct.
How does a sunsetted product effect business processes?
Sunsetting a product’s support will make a companies continued use of the product a difficult chore. A user’s work output slows down with outdated software. Too often, problems arise during day-to-day use that often require maintenance or minor updates (i.e. label design, disposition workflow, etc.) to continue using the product. Simply put, it’s difficult to fix a sunset product if it breaks. If you’re able to find a workaround or fix, it can cost your company a pretty penny!
The process can be likened to performing maintenance on an old (15yrs or more) automobile. While your automobile is under warranty (10yrs/100K miles), nothing seems to break. Most maintenance includes low cost expenditures: oil changes, tire-rotation, filters, etc. No big deal, right? But when you reach the 15 year mark and your automobile is out of warranty, everything begins to deteriorate and fall apart.
Some questions to ponder are:
- How many hours do you spend per week on the phone with customer support personnel trying to resolve issues?
- How much of your IT budget is spent on maintenance fees?
- How many hours per week do you spend waiting for issues to be resolved?
- How many hours per week do you spend searching for information?
If you take the time to make an honest calculation based on the previous set of questions, I’m sure you’d agree the numbers are absurd.
The bottom line: If your current technology is affecting business process in a negative way, it needs to go. You must take action. No exceptions.
What can your company do right now?
Let’s assume that you agree your current technology is affecting your business processes and costing you money. What’s next? Of the few options available to you, only two are actionable:
1) Talk to current vendor. The vendor that sunsets support of the product is likely anxious to sell its “new and improved,” and costly product that the vendor claims will solve all your companies problems.
2) Talk to a new vendor: Search for a vendor that has an easy upgrade path, modern technology and the ability to grow with your business.
What’s the right choice for your company?
Ultimately, that’s a decision your company must conclude themselves. I’ve been in that very same uncomfortable position myself.
Six years ago, I worked at a mid-size Connecticut based law firm. As the firm’s Records Manager, I was entrusted with creating and maintaining the firm’s records management program. Part of that initiative was to conduct a stringent vetting process to select records management software.
We searched for a product because we needed our information to be visible and easily accessed by those that needed it. My firm was growing and looking to expand further, so it was essential that we found a scalable and flexible product with a vendor we could trust. FileTrail was an easy selection for our firm.
Because of this, my previous firm is not faced with old, outdated, sunsetted technology. It has a modern solution able to grow with the firm’s business.
Finally, the time has come to answer the question proposed at the outset of this article, “When should I consider replacing our companies records management software?” Right now! There is no reason to wait. Contact me directly (646) 584-7687 or by email jmerrifield [at] filetrail.com.
Why not start 2015 on the right track with FileTrail?
This is a guest post from Leigh Isaacs, Director of Records & Information Governance at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.
Leigh currently serves as the Information Governance Peer Group Vice President at ILTA (the International Legal Technology Association) and as a member of the Information Governance Initiative (IGI) Advisory Board. She is also a Steering Committee member for the Law Firm Information Governance Symposium and is a Trustee for the ARMA International Education Foundation. She is a published author and speaker on issues relating to information governance. She has over 25 years of combined legal and information management experience. Leigh’s expertise includes deployment of enterprise programs, development of information management programs, on and off-site storage considerations including outsourcing, process improvements, evaluation and implementation of technology solutions and the disposition of information for dissolved entities.
Leigh shares her 5 Key Takeaways from the ARMA International Conference in San Diego, CA last month:
1) At ARMA, there was much discussion and interest in the various certifications our industry offers. More specifically, the distinctions between all of them, the value of each, etc. Not just records management or information governance certifications like CRM (Certified Records Manager) and IGP (Certified Information Governance Professional), but certifications like PMP (Project Management Professional) and CIPP (Certified Information Privacy Professional) were also hot topics.
This tells me two things:
- People are recognizing more than ever the importance of being seen as accredited in the industry.
- There is a greater understanding that we aren’t just talking records management anymore and that Information Governance encompasses all things.
2) It was great to see some new vendors in the mix at ARMA, and to see those that have been in the market a while get more traction and higher profile. Our vendor community is listening to what the practitioners need especially in the areas of information governance.
3) Not only does the vendor community appear to be listening to what the practitioners need, but they seem to be recognizing the value of having their own subject matter experts – whether it is on staff or by creating strategic partnerships with consulting organizations.
I had an opportunity to spend some time at both the FileTrail and Alfresco booths. It was refreshing to have a smart dialogue -not just about the technology but about the business needs driving innovation and the changes in the technology.
4) The industry roundtables held on Sunday got a tremendous amount of participation. I co-facilitated the legal roundtable and my note-taking could barely keep up with all of the ideas and conversation floating around the room.
5) While there is still a heavy focus on records management, it is obvious that information governance’s time has arrived. Sessions and conversations were multi-faceted, covering a variety of information governance topics including by not limited to compliance, cloud, security, privacy, collaboration, change management and strategic leadership.
Did you attend ARMA Live 2014 last month? What were your key takeaways? Please share in the comments section provided below.
It’s been about a week since ARMA International’s 59th Annual Conference & Expo in San Diego. Being a northeasterner, I’m already missing that gorgeous So-Cal weather. But as the old saying goes, life goes on!
At ARMA, I spent most of my time at the FileTrail booth #1030 educating attendees about our upcoming document management platform, which allows organizations to manage both physical and electronic content throughout it’s life-cycle in one single solution. It’s pretty awesome, definitely an exciting time to be at FileTrail!
While interacting with attendees, it’s still blatantly obvious that organizations, spanning every industry and continent, are still struggling with managing information. Year after year, it’s the same old story. By now, we’re back to the daily grind, catching up on emails and tasks that we put on the back burner while attending the conference. But before we get too entrenched into our daily activities, let’s make an action item list, so our conference trip wasn’t a waste.
1. Convince C-Level Information Governance Matters. This needs to be No. 1 on your list. Why? Simply put, if the individual cutting the checks doesn’t see the value, you will be just spinning your wheels.
How to do it? Find a case study of an organization in your industry that has benefited from developing an information governance program. Real life examples from industry peers can go along way and do much of the talking for you.
2. Decommission Old Software. This is by no means an easy task especially if you been involved with a merger/acquisition or two. But there’s no reason to pay maintenance and storage fee’s on software you no longer use. It doesn’t make much sense. It’s like paying insurance on a car you no longer own.
How to do it? Take an inventory of all software applications in the organization. Then, talk with your IT department and see which applications you are actually using and for what purpose. You most definitely will be surprised. What may surprise you even more is the cost associated with “dead” applications.
3. Eliminate ROT (Redundant, Obsolete and Trivial) Data. Organizations have hundreds of millions of files which have no value. This makes it next to impossible to find the information you need when you need it, which contributes to increased e-discovery cost and many innumerable risks.
How to do it? The most successful way to deal with ROT data is to identify and categorize the information when it’s first created, then apply a policy which will delete this data before it impacts the organization. This is easier said than done. The market for content analytic tools is maturing, so that certainly is an option if you have the coin. However, a simpler approach is to stop buying more servers, email archives and shared drives. Even simpler, start deleting those large .wav and .avi files which no longer have value.
4. Execute Retention Policy. By now most organizations have a retention policy which outlines how long information is retained, but few actually follow the policy. Why is this the case? The process is still very manual and no one wants to pull the trigger. This is very dangerous ground. You may as well have no policy at all.
How to do it? Stop relying on manual processes to dispose of information. Purchase an automated retention management tool to manage the process. If purchasing software is not in your budget at the moment, then create some metrics (i.e cost of retaining vs. disposing of data). In my experience, decision makers love graphs and word pictures.
5. Create an Information Governance Steering Committee. This is a cross functional team from different departments (i.e.Legal, Records, Compliance, IT, Information Security, Business) working together to solve the information explosion.
How to do it? Don’t create a new committee. If you try, your information governance program may never get off the ground. Instead, choose an existing one already successful leading projects.
What’s on your ARMA Live 2014 Action Item List? Please share your thoughts in the comments field below.