8 New Year’s Resolutions for Records Managers

8 New Year’s Resolutions for Records Managers

8 New Year’s Resolutions for Records Managers

Simple tips to make the most of your year

 
Know your aim this year, have a goal, and set meaningful deadlines towards getting to that goal.  Don’t have a goal yet?  Here are eight goals that we think are pretty good – take your pick or just use this list as a starting point to come up with your own.
 

 

8.  Hitch ERM to your executive’s top metrics

What are your executives really focused on?  Identify those metrics and then tie your Records Management initiatives to them.

Is your organization looking to reduce cyber risk? Great, that’s easy.  What if their primary goal is growth?  Digital modernization?  Improving workplace efficiency?  Managing costs?  With a little thought, you’ll find that your Records Management department matters to all these initiatives.  Find out what matters to your executives most, and then let them know that what you do matters to that goal.

 

7.  Build on your IT relationships

CIOs don’t always appreciate how essential Records Management is to the overall IT strategy of an organization. 

Remind them that the archives you build and maintain are the largest long-term knowledge and information stores in the organization.  That gives the archive real value as a data source for analytics and knowledge management, and high risk as a target of cybercrime – stuff that all CIOs care a lot about.

 

6. Spend time with the “front line.”

While you build Records Management systems, and try to apply them across the enterprise, you will probably feel some kickback.  It’s common to react with “Well, they don’t see the value of Records Management.”

But what if we’re missing something too?  Perhaps our plans don’t mesh well with how end-users do business!

If you want a successful ERM plan, sit with the front line on a regular basis to see how your plans interact with the work they do.  It will broaden your perspective, ensuring that your plans match reality.

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5.  Go back to the “Why”

Why do you do Records Management?  It may sound silly, but not everyone can answer that.  Is it to reduce risk or is it to comply with legislation?  Is it to ensure that it’s possible to find important information easily?  Whatever the reason your organization has for Records Management, keep the reason front and center.  Focusing on “the Why” will provide you with important guidance for moving forward. 

 

4.  Learn some SQL

Most of the data you interact with on a daily basis is stored in SQL Databases.  SQL (Structured Query Language) is the lingua franca of all data and information specialties. It’s the backbone of software that stores our worlds information and records.  If you know the SQL language, that gives you a superpower.  Now you can interact with information at the foundation.  It’s like seeing the Records Management matrix.

 

3.  Prioritize Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery (DR) is the enterprise-wide version of saving your work.  Have you ever forgotten to save a document you were writing and lost the entire thing when the program crashed?  How much did that hurt? 

Now imagine that happening to your entire company. Yeah, that’s what it’s like when you haven’t built a disaster proof repository.

 

2.  Let someone else be the bad guy

An organization that never says “No” to a new project or new idea is an organization hurdling towards disaster.  Your organization needs someone to be the bad guy, shooting down ideas and expensive projects.  But, fortunately, that someone doesn’t have to be you. 

Instead, make sure to give yourself room to explore ideas about the future of your systems and department with an open mind.  It’s enough to come up with new ideas in the first place, without having to do the work of shooting some of them down too!

 

1.  Focus on your Team

Most problems in Records Management aren’t technical.  They aren’t budgetary.  They aren’t even the number of hours in the day.  Scientists across industry have run the numbers, and most business problems are talent problems. 

Make sure you focus on retaining the talent you’ve built and building up the talent you have.  Nothing else you do will pay as large of dividends as focusing on your team!

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Katherine Long

Katherine Long

Moving away from your Legacy ECM

Moving away from your Legacy ECM

Organizations can’t afford to treat security or compliance as an afterthought.

Between cyber-attacks costing companies billions of dollars, GDPR fines of up to 4% of global revenue, and new aggressive data regulations coming every day – both companies and government agencies are getting serious about how they store their data and documents.

Organizations also can’t afford to use Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems that treat security and compliance as an afterthought.  

It’s no surprise then that organizations everywhere are looking to ditch their legacy ECMs, with the goal of finding a modern, secure, and compliant alternative.

The Tried and True Alternative

Feith is an Enterprise Content Management system that got its start selling to the DoD and US Intelligence Community. 

Since then, it’s obtained broad appeal across the Fortune 500, Universities and Civilian Government.  Why?  The answer is simple – it’s the only ECM that took Compliance and Security seriously from the start.


While other companies are scrambling to bolt Records Management features onto their software (and paying Gartner to call them leaders for it), Feith was built for secure Records Management from the start. 

In fact, Feith was the very first company to achieve perpetual certification on the Department of Defense’s Records Management standard back in 2007.  Since then, Feith has been the major thought-leader in complaint and secure Electronic Content Management.

What does all this mean to you?

It means the most advanced Records Management-enabled system on the market. A system that was designed to scale – comfortable working with hundreds of thousands of users. 

It means a system that builds Role Based Access Controls (RBAC) and Attribute Based Access Controls (ABAC) down into the foundations of the platform.  Software that has been penetration tested by the nation’s best, over and over again. 

Automatic document classifications, redactions, and PII-detection. Fully integrated workflow.  Modern APIs. And it means that, unlike most of our competitors, we’ve never given our source code to foreign governments, and never will. 

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Case Study: Big county Using Feith’s Physical Records

Case Study: Big county Using Feith’s Physical Records

Problem: One of the most Populous Counties in the U.S.  needed a better system for managing their records

Members of this county perform essential administrative functions such as registering voters, supervising elections, keeping records, providing police protection, and administrating health and welfare services. Storing and managing their boxed records consumes much of their time, however, and the paperwork continues to pile up. Not only is it their job to maintain hundreds of documents, but they must also keep track of these files. It’s an enormous amount of paperwork to support.

Although they had a system in place for managing these records, they experienced several problems with it. First, their existing system didn’t provide them with enough user licenses. Agencies outside of their county had to fill out a paper form whenever they needed to check out a box. Another problem they encountered was with destroying boxes. They kept retention schedules based on the contents of the boxes, but it was a tedious and manual process of sorting through and finding the correct files. 

A third problem arose from how they were tracking records and communicating with agencies. This county was sending spreadsheets through email to monitor and communicate this crucial information. However, this method required them to reenter new data into their online database. With email communication, it sometimes took a long time to hear back from agencies too. A final problem they encountered was with the high cost. Their inflexible record management software didn’t perform up to their standards. Ultimately, this county decided that to improve their workflow they needed new software that could solve these challenges.

Feith’s Solution:  The Project

The first step began with a discovery phase. The Feith team wrote up a functional solution design document (FSD) that listed any configurations or changes that were going to be made. Next, to better understand the workflow and logistics needed for uploading 45,000 boxes of records, the Feith team arranged for an in-person meeting at the client’s location. Once on-site, they spoke with end users and then developed a solution to meet the client’s exact specifications.

With Feith’s software, this client will receive better record management, improved reporting, and greater transparency. For example, their communication with outside agencies can now occur through a simple workflow instead of through email. And all their conversation will be in a single location which means they won’t have to search through a cluttered email inbox to see if they received an approval message. Dashboards will give them increased insights into their data. From a glance, they’ll be able to determine which boxes need approval and which need destruction. Moreover, when they’re ready, they can streamline their workflow even further with Feith’s electronic record management solution.

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Katherine Long

Katherine Long

6 Mistakes You’re Making By Using Public Fileshares

6 Mistakes You’re Making By Using Public Fileshares

If you’re using services like Google Drive, DropBox, Box.net, or SkyDrive for business, here’s why you probably shouldn’t be.

1. Trusting The Public Cloud.

Your coworkers already use applications like Google Drive and Dropbox to share business documents because they are easy to use, but security can be questionable. You should limit users from taking corporate files to the Public Cloud before important information is compromised.

2. Ignoring Your Snowden or Manning While He’s Right Under Your Nose.

Identifying a thief after they’ve gotten away isn’t helpful. Stopping them in the act is. When a file sync and share can report suspicious activity as it happens by monitoring who’s accessing what and how many files, you stop the offender before confidential or damaging documents walk out the door.

3. Disregarding Proper Records Management.

Documents in the Public Cloud are not managed through your Records Management application, are not categorized, administered, or disposed of automatically, and are not conformant to DoD 5015.2. Only when you sync documents with databases that are RMA’d can you start proper records management.

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4. Running on Non-Standard Databases.

Oracle Database? SQL Server? Your organization’s technology and staff grow around a specific database. Therefore it’s critical to use, create, and maintain business applications like an enterprise file sync and share that run on that existing database.

5. Forgetting That Your Users Are Already The Users.

Every new application added to a user management platform should tie authentication to the central system, such as Active Directory. It’s unwise to implement a rogue program like a Public Cloud file sync and share that ignores the security and consistency of that process.

6. Losing Your Stuff.

As large numbers of documents are added to the cloud, the only way to easily find the one you’re looking for is through the document’s content. Only an enterprise file sync and share that accesses a universal full-text searchable repository (including OCR’d image content), and uses a familiar interface with which to search it, can do that.

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Katherine Long

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JAD Beta – Design the Future of Feith

JAD Beta – Design the Future of Feith

At Feith Systems, we pride ourselves on our closeness with customers—we like to say that all of our software is born from customer need.

That’s why every year we host JAD- a Joint Application Development session where customers tell us how they’re using the software and what we can do to make it work better for them. Some features that came from past JAD sessions include:

  • Add page- select multiple documents and append a page to them in bulk
  • Record when a user logs into WebFDD for reporting (last login)
  • Print Workflow Diagram to PDF
  • RSS feed to notify customers of new releases.

This year during JAD, we had some of the very first customers using FeithDrive in production participate, which prompted us to look at the application in-depth with the entire JAD audience. We got great feedback on one of the features of FeithDrive from a customer who hasn’t even implemented it yet!

See, in FeithDrive, we save the entire revision history for every document—we do this for a few reasons:

  1. Some clients NEED to preserve a full audit trail for every document they have—we want our software to be compliant with their needs
  2. The convenience of seeing who made changes, when, and being able to see older versions of the documents at a moment’s notice. You only have to overwrite your work once to know the pain of losing it!

Some of our other customers want to ability to turn this off- to have new versions of a document overwrite older versions with no version history preserved.

And we said—why not. As long as the functionality remains in place for customers who need it for compliance, then we don’t see the harm in removing the audit trail for systems that have less strict requirements.

And then another customer had an idea for JAD Beta- that’s right, it wasn’t even our idea! To test new software on the customers we want to use it while it’s still being written.

So here we are—we want your feedback on the software we’re still writing. All we want to do is show it to you and if you happen to say, “what about…” then we’re all ears.

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Who are the real stakeholders in your new project?

Who are the real stakeholders in your new project?

Here’s a hint: it may not be who you expect.

You’ve probably thought long and hard about all the ways your new software development project will save you time, money, and effort.

But have you stopped to ask your end-users for their opinions? With so much riding on your project, the last thing you want is to learn that it doesn’t work for them right after deployment– when making changes is the most costly and difficult.

Rethinking Stakeholders

If your project involves making changes to your software, then doesn’t it make sense that end-users have the most to gain from its success? This is the very heart of what it means to be a stakeholder, yet every day well-meaning business leaders overlook the assets sitting right in front of them. Employees are a fertile ground for new ideas, since at the end of the day they’re the people who will be using the software.
And worse, by leaving employees out they forgo the higher productivity and lower turn-over associated with engagement.

Leveraging Insight

Take the convenience store, Seven-Eleven. Many of us are familiar with Seven-Eleven Japan’s decision to put purchasing decisions on its lower-level employees. When Seven-Eleven took advice from the people most intimately aware of day-to-day spending patterns, they were rewarded with increased revenue and decreased overhead. Seven-Eleven didn’t have to put the entire business logic in the hands of their clerks—instead, they carefully judged what knowledge would be most useful to them and designed a framework for utilizing it.

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Incorporating feedback vs. dividing authority

If you’re worried that accepting feedback will give employees the false idea that they are the decision-makers, then it’s time to reassess. The truth is that most employees feel more empowered and appreciated just by simply asking for their opinions.
Granted, if employees sense that you asked for their opinions without ever intending to listen, morale will certainly suffer. In all likelihood, you’ll find that there are at least a few valuable pieces of information to learn from them.

Have an organized plan for evaluating stakeholder requests

We recommend having a plan in place before you undertake a new software development project. Ideally, you will be able to objectively weigh the opinions of your stakeholders to make sure that their requests will truly produce the best results for your company– inside, and out.

Cultivate a culture where employees want to share their thoughts

This, perhaps, is the most daunting piece of advice I can offer, but it can be the most beneficial—knowing how people are spending their time and encouraging them to share ideas about how to optimize their process will reap serious rewards for your software development project, and more importantly—your bottom line.

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Katherine Long

Katherine Long

So, what are you keeping in your file cabinet?

So, what are you keeping in your file cabinet?

I’m talking about those metal boxes with drawers — you know, the things you don’t need now that your company moved to FDD.

I opened up the file cabinet in my cubicle yesterday and found a pair of high heels that I ambitiously wore to work once and ditched after an hour. That’s it.

Why? Because nobody at Feith uses metal file cabinets to hold documents.

That’s my theory anyway, and I’ve been asking around.

  • In Richard’s cabinet—a few Tupperware containers that he’s been meaning to take home all week.
  • Gregory keeps action figures and snacks, because emergency could strike at any moment.
  • Josh keeps a set of spare clothes for after a jog, or in case riding his motorcycle proves messy.
  • Patrick told me he has “a pet monkey on a bicycle playing the tuba.” Maybe his German accent is having an effect here, but I’m pretty sure he’s serious.
  • Finally, when I asked Gwyn she looked around her cubicle and said, “Wait, I have a file cabinet?”

I rest my case.

Here’s what I want to know: 
What are you using your file cabinet for, now that you don’t need it?

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Katherine Long

Katherine Long

Send in the Drones!

Send in the Drones!

Another beautiful Friday afternoon here at Feith Systems and Software, and what better way to celebrate than by taking the old UAV for a spin?

Austin, one of our Solutions Architects, has been telling us about his drones for a few months now (although he insists they’re more accurately described as quadcopters).

We couldn’t wait to see them.

Hamming it up with a drone.

So, while the weather was clear, the wind was low, and all of the executives were tied up in meetings, a few of us managed to sneak outside to see them.

“Guys, pretend I’m flying it with my mind!” says Mingjie Zhu, Support Engineer.

Austin attached a camera to the drone to transmit video to the goggles pictured above, so you can truly get a ‘birds eye view’. It can take some getting used to, especially when Austin sends it into a nose dive.

Taking a spin out front of the Feith offices in Fort Washington, PA.

That was fun, but it looks like it’s getting a little cloudy on the horizon. Better pack it up.

Until next time, friends.

PS: If you’re coming to the annual conference this year, don’t forget to keep a look out for Austin and his drones. Rumor has it he will be flying them on the beach at FACT/2015 in Atlantic City, NJ.

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Katherine Long

Katherine Long

Categories Fun

Engineering’s Brewing Day

Engineering’s Brewing Day

At Feith we strive to live by the Work Hard, Play Hard philosophy. That’s why no one at Feith was surprised when a handful of us took a few hours Friday afternoon to create our own Feith-branded craft beer.

Our lead graphic designer, Jessica Cohen, was in attendance.

She was kind enough to take some envy-inducing pictures and even copied down the recipe so we could enjoy the experience.

How does one home brew their own Feith Beer?

First, you want to start by growing your own hops– preferably at your place of employment à la Senior Software Engineer, Tom McLean.

Tom is the master of this operation, and he swears by preparing the beer in an 8-gallon turkey fryer.

It took the water about an hour to get to the optimal temperature (about 165 degrees Fahrenheit).

Then Tom turned off the heat, and steeped a bag of roasted grains for half an hour before removing them. After the grains are removed, the concoction is brought back to a boil and malt extract is added.

Next came the first .25 oz of hops. The pot was left to boil for another 30 minutes, after which .25 oz more of hops were added.

This process was repeated twice more.
Once the boiling process was finished, the copper coil was placed in the pot and cold water was run through it to cool down the contents.

Once the liquid was cooled enough, the yeast was added and the liquid was transferred to the fermenting jar.

And there it sat for several months. Feith beer was debuted last week at our end-of-summer picnic. Tom tapped the keg and everyone was welcome to sample.

The general consensus? We didn’t make enough!

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Katherine Long

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