Records management software has evolved and shifted to meet the growing needs of records and information management professionals, including more features, add-ons, and integrations than ever before. While most records management software solutions are scalable, cloud-ready, and browser-based, some offer different feature sets packaged as tiered products that vary in price.
When evaluating a new solution, look for these 6 must-have records management software features to ensure better compliance with retention requirements for all of an organization’s record information assets.
1. Role-Based Security
Feature: Configure an unlimited number of role-based security groups, restrict views at the table, row, or field level as well as any function in the application.
Why it's important: While securing access to records and information seems like an obvious need, it’s important to have flexible, role-based security to ensure compliance and information integrity. It’s especially important for organizations that have users across different departments and/or locations, as the security functionality must accommodate varied levels of access depending on the role of the user.
Flexible, role-based security reduces the risk of lost or deleted records by designating user access roles that define who can perform certain actions from the application. For example, only certain users or groups are allowed to approve the destruction of a record or to transfer a record to another location.
2. Advanced Retention Schedule and Legal Holds Management
Feature: Create an unlimited number of retention schedule records series and legal holds and configure these based upon specific meta-data. Time, event, and time + event-based series are supported in addition to legal holds and disposition support.
Why it's important: This feature automatically manages the retention schedules of all recorded information assets, ensuring that all official records are kept for as long as needed, and only as long as needed, to meet regulatory, legal and business needs. This protects organizations from potential risks associated with keeping records past their retention period - and provides a legally-defensible audit trail for the destruction of outdated records and information. Standard retention often lacks automatic disposition functionality and requires a manual review for records that are nearing the end of their life cycle.
According to an ARMA International article, “Big Buckets for Simplifying Records Retention Schedules” by Susan Cisco, Ph.D., CRM, approximately 15-20% of the records series in a schedule will not have legal or regulatory retention requirements. The ability to create as many retention schedules as needed is important when dealing with records with different retention schedule requirements.
3. Available Integrations
Feature: Integrations with document management, enterprise content management (ECM), and off-site storage providers.
Why it's important: Integrations with document management, enterprise content management, and off-site storage providers enable organizations to bring disparate parts of their records management together in one ecosystem. Integrations often yield better productivity since processes can be uniformly managed, often from a single interface.
If your organization already uses a records storage provider to handle the pick-up, transfer, and destruction of off-site records, be sure your records management software has the ability to seamlessly process those requests.
The same also applies if your organization has an existing ECM provider - avoid the hassle of migrating your existing data to a new system with integrations that provide federated searching and shared retention management, regardless of media type.
4. Comprehensive Reporting
Feature: Execute inventory, metrics, and workflow based reports, create user-defined reports, and export reports into various formats.
Why it's important: Reporting tools allow records and information management professionals to make informed, data-driven decisions that encourage continuous improvement. Reporting provides visibility into access, actions, and history of all records and documents stored within the application. A few standard reporting capabilities include:
- Disposition reports
- Data activity reports
- Workflow metrics reports
- Security logs
Reports help to eliminate uncertainty - they can be quickly produced and shared with key decision-makers within your organization.
5. Unified Records Management Regardless of Media Type
Feature: Create and apply records retention schedules to all records, regardless of media type - physical records and digital/electronic content.
Why it's important: The records and information management landscape is an increasingly hybrid environment due to the reliability of physical records and growing volume of digital records. If a record or document is discoverable, it must be managed regardless of media type. The ability to apply retention schedules, workflows, and security settings to paper files, electronic records, or a combination of the two protects your organization's valuable data with a complete, unified records management solution. Be sure to look for a solution that offers physical records management and digital content/electronic document management.
6. Client/Matter Management (for Law Firms & Legal Departments)
Feature: Easily view linked files, documents, and boxes related to each client/matter. Generate standardized document types to organize records related to each matter. Add unlimited number of clients/matters.
Why it's important: Client/matter management functionality in a records management software system allows law firms and legal departments to both organize important files, documents, emails, etc. related to each client/matter and meet regulatory and eDiscovery requirements.
Protect sensitive information with built in ethical walls and track items such as the attorneys and other staff associated with the case. Manage all physical records and digital content related to each client/matter and automatically apply the necessary retention schedules and security settings.
These must-have features are important to the success of a records management system because they deliver better visibility, automation, and compliance for all of an organization’s record information assets.