How to Meet the NARA 2019/2022 Deadlines – PART 2 of 3 

by | Jul 18, 2019 | Enterprise Content Management, Government IT | 0 comments

In the first part of this series, I raised the issues of the importance and complexity of meeting the NARA 2019/2022 deadlines. It’s not something you can rush through and companies will need to have a plan before they jump into action.

NARA Logo created 2010

Now I would like to go over the following in part 2 of this 3 part blog:

  • Making a plan for scanned content to comply with the 2019 and 2022 mandates.
  • Further evaluation of your content to help you correctly configure things.
  • Why it is important to map out what you have and how to link it to your retention schedule.
  • Examples on configuration and implementation of electronic solutions for your 2019 and 2022 ingested content.
  • Setting up and configuring a content Library.
  • Seamless mapping to your retention schedule.
  • How using an ingestion tool like Ephesoft can speed up your progress.

Before we start with Part 2 if you haven’t read through the first part, here’s a link How to Meet the NARA 2019/2022 Deadlines – PART 1 of 3.

Once you’ve finished evaluating your content, the next stage is making a plan for the scanned-in content.

Making a Plan for Your Scanned-in Content

Let’s start with a basic plan. In order to make that plan ask yourself:

  1. How will this content be ingested, scanned in? Will we have a tool like Ephesoft to help with data extraction?
  2. What do we have to scan in, what are its document types/categories?
  3. Where will it go in the system? What libraries do I need to set up for this content?
  4. What folder structure needs to be in each library so that I can scan the documents into the proper folder? This may be crucial – you may not want to dump everything into the “HR” library. Perhaps you would rather scan all the “Application Records”, ensuring they go into the “Applications” folder in the HR Library – that way it is much easier to map them to the Records Retention Schedule and File Plan.
  5. What are the crucial metadata for each type of document, or category of documents, being scanned in? Can we add high level ‘bulk’ metadata to everything that goes into a certain library? Does metadata need to be manually added to folders/records, individually, after they are ingested into the target library and folders? What are they? What folders/libraries do they all apply to? Some metadata may need to be added to every library and some may only apply to a folder in a library. Sort out your data model and what metadata is needed at what level and on what objects (document, folder, library?)
  6. Will all of this content be an official record as soon as it hits the library? Or will some of it still be in some kind of draft mode? If everything is already an official record, and no more edits are needed, then it is better to ingest everything after your plans and rules are set up in the system. If you have everything mapped out, then all you need to do is add the content to the right folders in the library and the system adds the needed metadata and links it to the proper category in the File Plan Retention Schedule because you set it up first before adding the content.
  7. Who will have access to each of these libraries? What type of access should they have? (Read, Write, Manage, etc.). Set up the permissions on the library and the subfolders ahead of time.

As you can see, there are plenty of little details to consider before you get to actually do any work, however,  this is a crucial phase. Spending some time to think through these details can help you save time in the long run.

Setting up a Library Structure

In Alfresco and most other ECMs, you can set up a library for your content. Within that library, you can section-off your content into sub-categories or groups. For example, you can have a library site just for HR records and folders for the different areas of HR (Applications, Employee Records, I-9 forms, etc.) You can scan in your content into the proper folders within that library.

You could also set up a library for a certain project or program and scan all the records for that project onto the library site in Alfresco.

If you are like me, you may want to put this into a visual chart. See image 1 for a high-level concept of a plan and library set up.

setting up library structure ECM automation

Image 1: Your high-level plan to get content into the system can be put into a simple diagram to help visualize your structure.

Of course, how your library will look depends on your data and your organization’s needs. You may have dozens of top-level categories with a handful of sub-categories. Or, it can be similar to the image, with a handful of top-level categories, and multiple sub-categories. It all depends on your specific needs.

Configuring Your Library to Help You Stay Compliant

This type of configuration can help you do several things:

  • It can help you organize things by a certain group, topic or category.
  • It can help you with permissions and user access – only give access to that library for users on a “need to know” basis.
  • It can help you classify and add security markings to content as needed.
  • It can help you add the proper metadata that is specific to that content type/topic/category only. Certain metadata that applies to HR may not apply to the Project Library and vice versa. You can add special metadata to a certain Library to be automatically added to that group of information or subfolders within the Library.
  • It can help you map your content from the library site directly to a spot in the File Plan (on the Records Management Site in Alfresco) so that as the content is being added to the folder structure in the group site library, it can also obtain its future Retention Schedule. So, if/when the document gets declared as an official agency record, it will automatically get mapped to that spot in the File Plan Retention Schedule, making it seamless for both the end-user and the Records Manager. See image 2.

Smarter System – Seamless Mapping to Your Retention Schedule

With the above set up, the system can be “told” the answers to the following questions:

  • What area of the agency is the content from? (example: HR site Library)
  • What are the major topics of the content? (example: ‘Applications’ folder in the HR Library)
  • What year is the content from? (example: 2012 – can be metadata or in a 2012 folder)

Example: Content is from Library: “HR”, the content was put into the folder “Applications”, the content was labeled as being a “2012 document” (upon ingestion with Ephesoft) or it was added to a 2012 folder. It was also marked as an official record ( upon ingestion or at a later point in time after ingestion). From this information above, can you properly give it retention (cutoff/disposition) date? Yes, in most cases. OK good, then you can now map it to the “2012 HR Applications” folder in your File Plan/Retention Schedule and from that point on the system does the rest under the Records Managers’ control.

content retention map for ECM migration NARA Deadline

Image 2: Content can be managed and mapped to a certain spot in the File Plan for retention controls.

When Ingesting, Use a Tool like Ephesoft:

Ingesting your content through Ephesoft is a very popular and less time-consuming way to do things. This tool will help you process the content in a batch, and add the needed metadata before it hits the target library.

If you use Ephesoft, you can improve your paper-to-electronic processing time by 80%, collecting metadata along the way before it hits the target electronic library.

This is vitally important because when you add content into a system, the system typically adds the timestamp of when it is ingested into the system, but it may not know the date of the document.

For instance, you may be scanning in documents from 2012. This is vital information to you and Records Management, but the content is going into the system today, in 2019! So, Ephesoft can help you to make sure your content is being properly labeled so that you can properly disposition it later.

When your content is labeled properly, e.g. “Document Date 2012,” now Records Management controls know not only the schedule it is under, but also the date from which to start the retention countdown. You can put this content in a 2012 folder, OR add “2012” metadata to the document, and the system takes it from there.

Wrapping Up

As the process of meeting the NARA 2019/2022 Deadlines is quite complex, you’ll need to do a lot of planning and mapping out how your content will be organized. Spending time in the planning stage, using the key questions I’ve listed above, will save your organization countless hours in the future.

Having a well-organized database is key to efficiency and using a tool like Ephesoft for batch-processing will help you digitize your documents at a much faster pace.

To get a better understanding of the entire process, make sure you read through the other two parts of this series:

“How to Meet the NARA 2019/2022 Deadlines – PART 1 of 3”

“How to Meet the NARA 2019/2022 Deadlines – PART 3 of 3”

And, if you need some help with the planning process, don’t hesitate to Contact Us.

Thanks for reading. Please let me know if you have any questions. And don’t forget to share this post on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter.


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