Records Management Systems
Copyright 2022, Faulkner Information Services. All Rights Reserved.
Publication Date: 2207
Report Type: MARKET
An ERM (enterprise records management) system is one that is designed
to maintain and manage an organization’s electronic and physical
records. This system is regarded as a top priority for companies of
virtually any size, as it provides a means for organizing, finding,
distributing, and securely disposing records. Several ERM technology
vendors deliver both general suites and product lines for specific
industries such as healthcare, legal, pharmaceutical, and public sector
organizations among others. Despite the presence of many
well-established names, there continues to be a
fragmented marketplace that lacks that dominant leader. This forces
organizations to conduct due diligence before selecting a specific ERM
deployment. This report takes a look at a number of ERM-related
- Executive Summary
- Market Dynamics
- Market Leaders
- Market Trends
- Strategic Planning
- Web Links
- Related Reports
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As the need for records – both electronic and physical – continues to
skyrocket, many organizations are left trying to figure out the best way to keep
their information organized, accessible to a limited audience, and secure.
Related Faulkner Reports
|Enterprise Content Management Software
|Enterprise Records Management Systems
|HIPAA Records Management
Such records – which can include data ranging from company e-mails to
contracts – need to be stored and managed in the most efficient possible manner.
This need applies to virtually all content, whether stored via a computer
system, server, device document-management system, database, Web site, flash
drive, or cloud-based service. Organizations need to be able to:
- Access material for business, legal, regulatory, or any number of other reasons.
- Destroy this material once the appropriate timeframe has been reached.
- Track changes over time.
Figure 1 below illustrates the basic records management lifecycle.
Figure 1. The Lifecycle of a Record
The top defining characteristics of an ERM (enterprise records management)
system is its ability to retain information while also improving access and reducing
retention and retrieval costs. Generally speaking, improvements to productivity
and cost-management provide business benefits, but are not the primary market
drivers for this software segment. Rather, market drivers tend to include legal,
regulatory, and audit-related requirements, the expansion of which tends to
result in higher revenues for ERM software and services vendors.
Over time, the records-management systems market has continued to
sort itself out, especially with the sun having essentially set on
"pure-play" ERM solutions. Moving forward, ECM (enterprise content
management) systems-backed solutions are growing in popularity, with the
most significant vendors in this space either:
- ECM companies that have added ERM system functions.
- ERM vendors with added ECM capabilities.
Traditionally, ERM systems tend to share a number of features, as detailed in
Potential Future Focuses
Those purchasing ERM software should evaluate their organization’s needs,
- Functionality (such as Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) compliance)
- Web-content management
- Mobile data access
- Vertical domain / knowledge experience
- Need for a dedicated Records Manager to oversee these processes
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Today’s technology-ruled world means that companies now have more electronic
records than paper ones. Such records include not only word processing
documents but also e-mail, IMs (instant messages), and scanned images, among
other file types.
The need for enterprises to manage records became clearer than ever following
the Enron Corporation debacle that began to unfold in late 2001. Partially as a
result, as well as in response to a series of US Supreme Court judgments
focusing on the obligations of companies "to preserve and produce electronic
evidence," the US Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) were amended in
December 2006. These rules were first enacted in 1938 to govern court procedures
for civil suits. The 2006 revisions affected rules of discovery, easing the
management of electronic records for courts and litigating parties. The FRCP rules
– as well as existing regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA), and Sarbanes
Oxley (SOX) – are the primary drivers for both content and records management.
e-Discovery. One of the most significant phenomena affecting
the evolution of records management is the emergence of electronic
discovery as a legal and regulatory concept. Electronic discovery (or
e-discovery) is the process of finding information of a particular type that is
stored in electronic files, databases, or archives. While the roots of
e-discovery can be traced to the early 1990s when enterprises began "mining"
large-scale databases to gain market intelligence, e-discovery today generally
involves the on-demand production of information relevant to specific legal
orders and regulatory requirements.
The principal driver behind e-discovery was the US Supreme
Court. On April 12, 2006, the Court approved and forwarded to Congress a number
of revisions to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) that addressed the
preservation and discovery of data in electronic media. The new rules, which
went into effect on December 1, 2006, established a new form of discoverable data
called "electronically stored information" (ESI). According to Rule 34,
electronically stored information includes writings, drawings, graphs, charts,
photographs, sound recordings, images, and other data or data compilations
stored in any medium from which information can be obtained. Importantly,
electronically stored information stands on equal footing with the discovery of
paper documents, meaning ESI must be produced on demand in response to
a subpoena or other court order.
While the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure apply to federal courts, most state court systems have adopted the
same or similar rules. As a consequence, virtually all enterprises must be
prepared to produce relevant electronic information as required and requested.
From an records management perspective, enterprise officials should be careful
to retain records relevant to transactions with customers, business partners,
regulators, or other parties with whom the enterprise "does business." This
- Involve the enterprise General Counsel (as a source of ESI expertise);
- Be biased toward keeping more potentially "discoverable" records, not
less (the "better safe than sorry" approach).
An important element of complying with legal-style e-discovery
requirements is the ability to apply "document holds," essentially freezing
information that the enterprise has reason to believe may be the subject of
an imminent e-discovery order.
Compliance Management and Other Benefits
As a result of these regulations, organizations must now maintain a level of
control over data to ensure compliance. It should be noted that records stored
on personal drives or hard drives are not as accessible as records that are
stored within an ERM system, and as such may be missed from a search for
information. Although understandable, this is not an acceptable legal defense.
Other significant business benefits may be gained from a successful
implementation of an ERM, notably improved access to information and reduction
of the costs of records retention and retrieval.
Table 2 explores some of those benefits.
Improved Information Access
Records are accessible to the public and to employees on a “from
Elimination of current records management activities.
Records can be viewed simultaneously by many people or by people
Lower costs of preparing records for
Records can be retrieved based on keywords, category indexes, or
Reduced need for duplicate (paper and
Records in legacy systems are accessible.
Reduced paper usage.
Records of various types can be integrated and retrieved with a
Lower physical storage costs.
Records required for business dispute resolution, regulatory
Reduced discovery compliance costs
Facilitation of reclassification of records (e.g., taxonomy or
Ease of record capture by moving much of the workload to the
As with all enterprise disciplines, enterprise records management is governed
by international standards. Today, the principal international records
management standard is the International Organization for Standardization (
15489: Information and documentation – Records management. Initially published
in 2001, ISO 15489 emphasizes the management of both paper and electronic
records (including forms like e-mail).1
Table 3 looks at this document.
Part 1: General
Provides a high level framework for record-keeping.
Addresses the benefits of records management, regulatory considerations
Discusses high level records management requirements, the design of
Discusses records management audit operations, and training
Part 2: Guidelines
Provides practical and more detailed guidance about how to implement the
Provides practical guidance about the development of records processes
Discusses the use of these tools to capture, register, classify,
Provides specific guidance about the establishment of
Additional: Recent Updates
The ISO also released an updated version of ISO 15489: ISO
According to the standards body, "ISO 15489-1:2016 defines the concepts and
In 2017, the ISO
Emerging Records Domains
A growing issue for both records managers and ERM vendors is the use of
social networking technologies. For example, certain content generated on
LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter could constitute – or be construed as – enterprise records
– records that must be managed. Similarly, other sources of enterprise records
could include YouTube videos, podcasts, wikis, etc.
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Market leaders in the records management market space include:
- OpenText — Acquired Dell EMC’s Enterprise Content division
- Micro Focus — Purchased HPE’s Software business
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Until several years ago, the market for enterprise records management
(ERM) software, a relatively small slice of the wider enterprise content
management (ECM) market, was primarily limited to government organizations
and highly regulated industries such as financial services and
pharmaceuticals. Now, however, records management has become a significant
issue for almost all organizations. Factors contributing to its growth
include steady increases in the volume of legislative and regulatory
requirements, the need for real-time litigation responses, the requirement
to contain storage costs, and the need for disaster recovery readiness.
Several clear trends within this market are apparent:
- Compliance-Driven – The market for archiving messages (e-mail,
IM) will grow, partially
regulatory compliance requirements. This primarily affects financial services firms,
especially those that are heavily regulated by the US Securities and
- Increasingly Strategic – Input management software that provides
for the conversion of paper-based information to digital formats will become
increasingly strategic as
companies electronically capture, digitize and categorize more and more of
Mobile Access – Enables records management users to file
information to their ERM system as well as to search for and open electronic
documents using handheld devices
will become a key differentiator for ERM vendors with customers in
healthcare, law enforcement, government agencies, and similar sectors.
- Compliance Features – Continued improvement by message archiving
vendors in the
of their offerings, as well as a storage management focus. This is critical
given the growing emphasis on compliance dictated by regulations like
- Records Management will increasingly be viewed as an
element of enterprise content management (ECM). Information, knowledge, and
content are all embedded in business records, and ERM manages these
effectively, making it easier to leverage their value.
- Increasingly Internal – Although external compliance issues such
as SOX are currently in the limelight,
internally driven compliance requirements, organizational policies
encompassing digital rights management (DRM), and corporate governance will
become increasingly important.
- Process Automation – As many organizations have met compliance
requirements in the last couple of years by relying on costly, slow, and
error-prone manual processes to address compliance issues,
additional process automation will
- Expanded Definition – The definition of content requiring formal
management will expand, due to increasing compliance and legal risk (e.g.,
e-mail and collaborative interactions).
- Commoditization – Prices will decrease for ECM-based records
management solutions as the space becomes
- Open Standardization – Customers, particularly public sector
customers, will increasingly
call for the
adoption of open standards and open source.2
- Digital Preservation – Emerging as a major enterprise
records management issue.
- Wariness Regarding Cloud and Social Platforms – Compliance
managers will remain
wary of cloud and
social platforms, citing unresolved security, legal, and privacy
- Auto-Categorization – Becoming increasingly viable,
helping improve content accuracy and reliability.
Strategic Planning Implications
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An understanding of business and technology issues, as well as
information lifecycle management, has helped companies formulate the
primary components of high quality records management programs.
Highlights of these programs include:
- Records classification system that groups records by business
function, record class, and record type.
- Policies and procedures for creating, storing, and disposing
- Documented records retention schedule that lists records
categories and expected retention periods.
- Program to identify and protect records critical for restart
after a disaster.
- Audits to assess the clarity of procedures and effectiveness
of training, and to provide an enforcement vehicle.
Significant business benefits can be gained from a successful ERM
implementation. First of all, in contrast to conventional paper records,
digital records can be easily located and viewed by more than one person
at a time or by people in dispersed locations, which also reduces the
unnecessary duplication of information. Better access to information
also improves decision-making and customer service. In addition,
appropriate ERM retention, archiving, and destruction guidelines reduce
the expenses related to retaining unnecessary information, such as
physical storage and server costs. Finally, records management supports
risk management and business continuity planning, in part by identifying
and protecting those records critical to the running of the business.
This comes in addition to the requirement that companies must be able
to prove to regulators that they have the right procedures and
technology in place to retrieve requested e-mail, IM, and other
electronic documents that could be considered business records. Failure
to comply can cost millions of dollars in fines and other sanctions. A
successful ERM system greatly assists organizations in meeting their
legal, regulatory, and audit obligations, by allowing quick, thorough,
and cost effective retrieval of information.
This should make it clear that records management is a serious
concern for most, if not all, organizations. As a result, the following
considerations should be made:
- The ERM solution selected must be
supported by appropriate company
policies, procedures, and training to be optimally
effective. Many organizations will implement an ERM suite in small
steps, beginning with document intensive parts of the company, such
as its legal department. This helps companies identify potential
issues early before a company-wide deployment.
Despite the time, effort, and expense taken by vendors to be
certified as compliant with SOX and other regulatory and legal
standards, not all enterprises require support for these standards
in their implementations. Organizations must
determine what information must be
declared and managed as records, then purchase an ERM
- The system should be able to manage e-mails
and instant messages, as well as more conventional digital/scanned
documents. Document changes should also be tracked.
- It should be able to manage paper records
too, as few offices will be able to abandon all paper records or scan in all
- If there is a need for mobile access, the system must
support a range of devices,
accounting for additional challenges related to security, integration with
existing infrastructure, and real-time technical support for end users.
- The ability to manage information from other electronic applications which
may contain corporate information, such as records from Web sites, is an
advantage for some organizations.
- It may be of value to focus on vendors with specific domain
expertise. For example, OpenText has significant experience in
pharmaceuticals, government, financial, and high technology
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