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Section 3: File Management in an EDMS

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Active and Passive EDMS Uses

Active EDMS use employs the technology to manage documents involved in the conduct of business processes. Typical actions involve coordination of revisions or document handoffs for reviews or approvals.

Passive use employs EDMS simply as a repository for retaining documents after their active use is completed. Typical actions involve adding the document or a scanned image to the library when the hard copy would ordinarily be filed.

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EDMS and SharePoint Services

Microsoft’s Share Point Services (SPS) is marketed as a document management application, and has become popular as a means of sharing documents and conducting collaborative processes in the department. As documents are developed locally on shared drives, they may be posted to SPS sites for collaborative actions across the enterprise. SPS is a more user-friendly tool than FileNet for collaboration and business process-related document actions.

SPS, however, should not be used as a repository for the retention of completed documents as official records, as the ease with which SPS sites can be developed and accessed by large numbers of users and then removed presents inherent vulnerabilities. The Technology Services Division’s procedures governing the use of SPS emphasize that “SPS web sites should be focused primarily on defined projects and organizational infrastructure support issues.” Accordingly, completed or final documents managed through SharePoint should be moved to the FileNet EDMS for retention. If necessary, links to documents in the FileNet repository may be established in SPS sites.

Before eliminating SPS sites, SharePoint managers must take care to ensure that official records and documents are preserved and retained. Discussion strings may contain content necessary to preserve as a record, and steps to index and retain that content are also necessary.

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Using Properties to Manage Files in an EDMS

Library developers coordinate with subject matter experts to develop indexing criteria for retrieving and managing the life cycle of documents related to their individual business processes. Users are typically unconcerned with document life cycle management after they complete their role in the process.

In an EDMS, properties, or index terms, are assigned to documents when they are added to the repository. These properties are fields in a database that is used for building searches to retrieve documents. Documents added to the EDMS require certain properties that furnish essential data for life cycle management. These properties include the following:

  • Record Type — Relates the document to a record series in the TxDOT Records Retention Schedule
  • Document Type — Identifies specific document components in a record, some of which may require special retention requirements
  • Document Date — Used for date-based purposes/document operations
  • Document Status — Used to track document handling/life cycle status
  • File Code — A numerical identifier used to enable batch document operations

Optional custom properties are available for document indexing to support retrieval. Ordinarily, only a limited number of index terms (or properties) are necessary for the majority of retrieval needs for documents related to a business process. It is important to establish a balance between the number of properties used and the real retrieval needs related to the document. More properties to keep track of mean greater workload in adding and maintaining documents in the repository.

Optional properties may also be used for active document management. For example, the Process Status can track a document’s relationship or use in the management of a process.

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EDMS File Management Procedural Overview

Managers, supervisors, records custodians or coordinators must include EDMS records in routine file management procedures. The procedures resemble those for hard copy records, but involve more teamwork. The following steps are discussed in the remainder of this section:

  • declaring a record to trigger retention
  • changing security to preserve document integrity
  • including records in the EDMS in periodic records management procedures
  • generating a report of destroyed records
  • deleting the records from the library

Developing queries and scripts that perform global operations on component documents of records specific to various department functions involves coordination between the OPR and EDMS system administrator. Once developed and stored, however, queries, search templates and scripts may be reused—with adjustments to certain values—to perform the same operations in the future.

NOTE: E-mail all queries or scripts that are based on the standard library design to EDMS_OPR@txdot.gov to ensure system users have access to these resources.

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Declaring a Record

Declaring a record by an OPR may be event-driven, as in acceptance of a project, or date-driven, as in the turn of a fiscal or calendar year. For example, on notification of a construction or maintenance project’s completion, the OPR should perform a global document status property change to “Final” for all documents sharing the CSJ of the completed project. It is generally sufficient to batch records with an “AC” (After Completion) retention trigger in date-based groupings. For example, a declaration operation may specify all records with a document status of “Final” and document date equal to or before a specified trigger date, for example 0901YYYY.

The nature of the record determines its handling. If an OPR determines that a record should be destroyed as soon as it becomes eligible, it may be necessary to perform declaration and reporting on a more frequent basis.

Business process experts may collaborate with system administrators to explore developing scripts that would base global document property changes when a capstone document, such as a project acceptance letter, for example, is added to the library.

External resources may help this process. For example, the Construction Division periodically disseminates an Excel spreadsheet listing completed construction and maintenance projects by CSJ and completion dates among other categories. This data could be incorporated in scripts that run against the repository and update status properties for the affected documents.

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Securing the Record

Security settings for declared records are imposed to preserve their integrity and limit access during their retention, reducing risks of inadvertent changes to, or loss of documents. It may be possible to accomplish this at the same time the record is declared.

Optimally, access to a record during retention is restricted to the EDMS system administrator. If business processes require retrieval of documents from storage, read-only access should be limited to specific individuals. To support legal inquiries concerning the integrity of records retained in the EDMS, OPRs should maintain a list of these persons, the specific record types they are authorized to access, and their rights to the documents.

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Including EDMS in Periodic Records Management Procedures

Most routine procedures used to identify records eligible for destruction are managed on a date basis, typically at the turn of the fiscal year. Part of this procedure should include performing queries to report records eligible for destruction on the basis of their document status and date properties. Responsible persons then review the reports and authorize destruction of records or request withholding of destruction for specific records or documents.

In the case of reference files or documents retained indefinitely or “AV” (as long as they have administrative value) annual reviews afford owners the opportunity to reevaluate the need to retain the document.

OPRs can define the parameters of the reports. In some cases it may be sufficient to simply identify the record type and list specific identifying information, for example, denoting purchasing records for a specific fiscal year with a list of PO numbers.

Other queries may require specifying a listing that includes specific component documents.

Procedures used to report the records should include a global revision of the document status property to “Delete” and a review of documents against the EDMS file plan to identify any documents to be withheld for state archives review. Owners choosing to retain specific documents should revise the document status property to “Reference File” and enter an explanation for withholding the document from destruction in the “Document Comment” property.

In cases where certain selected documents are routinely retained for a longer period than other documents in the record type, the longer retention value may be established in the file plan, which can permit the use of the file code to exclude the document from the global document status property change, and report of documents eligible for destruction. See the following discussion on the EDMS file plan.

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Reporting Records to be Destroyed

Once the eligible records have been reviewed and approved for destruction, a report should be generated and attached to Form 1420, Records Destruction Log, for submission to Records Management. The report can make use of properties in the EDMS database and fields in the EDMS file Plan, and should include the record type, record date, the retention code (Trigger Date and Years field from the EDMS file plan), and a reference to the agency item number on the records retention schedule (also in the file plan).

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Deleting the Records

On completion of the report of records authorized for destruction, the EDMS system administrator may proceed with deletion of the records with the document status property “Delete.”

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Using the File Code Property

When users select a record type and a document type when adding documents to the library, the selections associate the document with a file code—a unique numerical identifier that relates the document to a retention rule. The Excel EDMS File Plan spreadsheet also includes the retention trigger event, the number of years the retention is required, archival requirements (if any), and a citation to the TxDOT records retention schedule. System administrators can select fields from the file plan for developing stored queries or scripts to accomplish operations on documents and collections of documents (records) in the library.

The file plan is posted on the EDMS intranet page and available via links from the ECM SharePoint site as well.

To employ the file plan, replace the “##” in the field(s) with your D/D/O’s functional account number (for example, “14” for the Austin district). Agency Item Number citations with a functional account number present refer to a division or office OPR for documents which may have a different retention requirement. In situations where a document exists in both district and division libraries, two separate entries in the file plan exist.

Assigning the functional account number relates the document contents to your specific D/D/O when citing the department’s records retention schedule in reports of records eligible for destruction or for attaching to Form 1420 upon completion of destruction. Multiple RRS Item references relate to records retention requirements for specific office operations. Records management can assist in selecting the appropriate reference for the particular library application being developed.

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Controlling EDMS Costs

EDMS employs server-based technology which, in the current environment, represents a considerable cost to the department. While conscientious observance of file management/records retention and destruction procedures offers the possibility of establishing some equilibrium in storage requirements over time, the trend will be toward increasing storage needs as reference files of indefinite retention (“archival” files) are added.

Not all documents belong in an EDMS, and careful planning before implementing the technology can help to manage costs associated with the system. More detailed information on planning for EDMS is available in an EDMS Planning Handbook.

Alternative approaches toward the management of archival files can reduce costs and improve security. Mass storage drives are inexpensive and can be duplicated with backups maintained in a separate location. Immediate online access is probably not that important for records stored in these devices, and the drives may be accessed “nearline”quickly enough for the majority of business processes that may need to call upon their contents.

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