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Sustaining the Archive - Modern Records Management

Electronic Records - Challenges and Solutions

BT engineer working on digital telephone exchange, 1990. Image courtesy of BT Heritage.

BT engineer working on digital telephone exchange, 1990. Image courtesy of BT Heritage.

Electronic records are created and kept as part of daily working life and for the majority of businesses they are the main media of communication. Whilst electronic records are relatively cheap to create and retain (compared with paper records) the fact that they are so easily created, copied and distributed has resulted in spiraling costs to businesses as IT
infrastucture has to support literally millions of records.

It is important that electronic records such as databases, websites and email systems are identified and included in records retention scheduling so that they are contained in your company’s records management process. Company experts need to work together to manage the storage and access requirements of diverse record formats.

Document management systems have been developed by IT vendors to create fully integrated ‘cradle-to-grave’ records management for organisations. These tools are not a solution in themselves – and companies still need to understand the provenance of their records and establish detailed records retention scheduling, to ensure the success of any such implementation.

For information about records management in general or trends and developments in electronic document management it’s useful to contact the Records Management Society. This is a professional association supporting those who work in or are concerned with records or information management. It supports professional development through training and conferences as well as providing information about best practice and professional issues. Visit their website at Online training resources are also available from the International Records Management Trust at

Another useful source of technical information about electronic records is the Digital Preservation Coalition - a not-for profit membership organisation whose primary objective is to raise awareness of the importance of the preservation of digital material. Visit their website at

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