SOURCE: AIIM - The ECM Association

October 27, 2005 13:00 ET

American Companies Fail to Address Preservation and Retention of E-Mail and Electronic Records

Survey Finds "E-Records" Policies Deficient -- Resulting in Widespread Non-Compliance

SILVER SPRING, MD -- (MARKET WIRE) -- October 27, 2005 -- AIIM - The Enterprise Content Management Association, in partnership with ARMA International and Cohasset Associates, Inc., announces the results of their survey on Electronic Records Management. Despite increased pressure from regulators and courts, nearly half of American companies still haven't adopted records retention policies for e-mail and other electronic documents. In a new survey of 2,100 records and information managers 49% of companies and government agencies have not adopted a records retention policy for e-mail. Over half (53%), do not include electronic records in their legal hold orders associated with regulatory inquiries and litigation -- leaving open, the possibility that records critical to a legal matter could be destroyed. And, more than two-thirds (68%), don't have a plan in place to preserve electronic records that need to be migrated, to insure the accessibility of the information over time. These failings continue despite serious issues raised about corporate record keeping over the past two years.

The survey and associated white paper, "2005 Electronic Records Management Survey -- A Renewed Call to Action," was conducted by Cohasset Associates, Inc. and co-sponsored by the two leading professional associations serving the records and information management profession, AIIM - the Enterprise Content Management Association and ARMA International.

According to Robert Williams, President of Cohasset Associates, "The majority of organizations surveyed are not prepared to meet many of their current or future compliance, legal and governance responsibilities, because of the deficiencies in the way they currently manage their electronic records." Williams also noted, "The outstanding challenges associated with the management of electronic information assets have the potential to be devastating in terms of professional careers and even corporate reputations -- just look at the impact of deficient records management practices at Arthur Andersen and Morgan Stanley."

"E-mail and electronic documents have a life cycle -- a life and a death -- the same as any other record," explained John Mancini, president of AIIM. "This is a core principle of records management, but one not readily understood by many IT and business professionals. The need for implementing policies and procedures around electronic documents has never been greater than it is in today's business world."

"Good business and good records management go hand in hand," said Peter R. Hermann, executive director and CEO of ARMA International. "Good governance requires compliance and the proper management of records and information -- regardless of the media on which they are created or stored -- and is the key to any organization's compliance efforts."

This year's bi-annual survey findings showed a possible "turning in the tide." Sarbanes-Oxley and the ever-increasing cost of litigation discovery have been the primary reasons many organizations begin addressing the problem. The survey gave special focus to the management of back-up and archival information -- finding that the 2000+ responding organizations collectively manage over 130 million computer tapes, and two-thirds (67%) have varying levels of difficulty finding and retrieving information from this media. This discovery cost is an incredibly large and uncontrolled cost -- second only to health care.

While some organizations "have their act together," the research clearly indicates that, for an alarming number, the job of records management is still not getting done. The survey's findings provide compelling reasons for senior management in business and government to focus much greater attention on their organization's records management performance, particularly the challenges associated with electronic records.

Williams concluded, "While the survey shows progress has been made in addressing some aspects of electronic records management, it also clearly documents that many very serious problems continue to exist -- and at dangerous levels for most organizations."

Survey results are available at http://www.merresource.com/whitepapers/survey.htm

About AIIM

AIIM (www.aiim.org) is the international authority on Enterprise Content Management (ECM), and leading the way to the understanding, adoption, and use of ECM technologies. These technologies, tools, and methods are used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content across an enterprise in support of business processes. As a non-profit association for more than 60 years, AIIM provides industry news and information, education and training, market analysis, industry standards development, publications, regional chapters, and executive networking.

About Cohasset Associates, Inc.

Cohasset Associates, Inc. (www.cohasset.com) is one of the nation's foremost management consulting firms specializing in electronic records management. For more than 35 years, Cohasset has served clients throughout the United States. Cohasset is also widely known for its excellence in education -- organizing and presenting the renowned national conference on Managing Electronic Records (MER) as well as its bi-annual national survey on electronic records management.

About ARMA International

ARMA International (www.arma.org) is a not-for-profit professional association and the authority on managing records and information. Established in 1955 with a current international membership of more than 10,000, ARMA International is the oldest and largest association for the records and information management profession. It provides education and information to professionals who are responsible for the efficient maintenance, retrieval, and preservation of vital information created in public and private organizations in all sectors of the economy.

Contact Information

  • Contact:

    Beth Mayhew
    Senior Manager, Marketing & Public Relations
    AIIM - The ECM Association
    301.755.2681
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