Moving from Paper to Less Paper (but not Paperless):
Implementing an Electronic Document and Records Management System
Rob Lake
Information Technology Planning and Forecasting Officer
[email protected]
Andrea Hare
University Records Officer
[email protected]
Osama Al Baik
Program Manager
[email protected]
University of Alberta
What is an Electronic Document and Records
Management System (EDRMS)?
• A content management system that will enable the university
to manage its records throughout their lifecycle, from creation
to final destruction or preservation at the University Archives
• A system that will facilitate business critical collaboration and
automation of record-intensive business processes
Why do we want such a system?
• Disaster recovery
• Search and access capabilities
• Space recovery
• Better efficiencies with workflows
• A greener environment
• Better adherence to audit and regulatory standards
• Cost savings in the long term
An opportunity exists here!
• A chance to re-engineer our business processes
• An opportunity to work as an institution instead of as
separate business units
• A chance to improve the management of a valuable
asset – the University’s records and information
• Think digitally!
How does one get started?
First of all, understand this is a big project.
• A REALLY BIG project
• It will take years to implement
• You can’t do it by yourself
• How far are you willing to go?
Start collecting the key ingredients of your EDRMS “recipe”.
1. Develop a Business Case.
• Base it on the benefits to the institution as outlined earlier
2. Establish your underlying key principles. Ours are:
• A single University supported records management system –
no shadow systems!
• Housed in the IST secure server room
• Hardware and software covered centrally – business units
responsible for scanners and personalized training
• Integrated with PeopleSoft ERP and the IMS (security roles)
• Authentication through the Campus Computing ID (CCID)
• Will adapt our business processes to match the software –
no customizations!
These can be part of the Business Case
3. Obtain support from senior administration (need funding).
• Our project sponsors are: Vice-President (Finance and
Administration) and Vice-Provost & Associate Vice-President
(Information Technology)
• Regular updates to our Executive Change Advisory Board (X-CAB)
and to the President’s Executive Committee - Operations (PEC-O)
4. Check if your institution has a records and information
management (RIM) framework in place.
• Involve your Records Management Office
• Work within your institution’s RIM framework
• Sooner or later you will need to apply RIM principles and best
5. Sell your vision to the business units (faculties,
departments and administrative units) – get their
support and buy-in.
• You won’t get far without them
• Highlight the underlying key principles
• This is an opportunity to save money, improve business
practices and effectively manage the University’s records
• It is also (initially) a coalition of the willing – they need to be
ready to invest human resources into this
6. Establish your governance model.
• Ensure the over-arching steering committee consists of senior
management from key business units that have records
encompassing the entire institution, and from several faculties
• Other committees and working groups will be required as the
project unfolds
7. Obtain the resources you need (project manager,
business analysts, records officer, technical resources).
• Rob Lake (Project Owner)
• Andrea Hare (University Records Officer)
• Osama Al Baik (Program Manager)
• Sandra Kereliuk (Finance and Administration Liaison)
• Suresh Joshee (Developer)
• Business Analysts and other Technical Resources
• External Assistance, if necessary
8. Decide what software product will drive this.
• COTS or Open/Community Source?
• Get the Steering Committee involved with any RFP
• Be careful with the scoring factors with an RFP – you need to
carefully balance functionality to cost
• Ensure your solution is scalable to the entire institution and will
meet your underlying principles
• The system will be nearly as important as your ERP!
• We have chosen Alfresco (an Open/Community Source Solution)
• An Open/Community Source solution
• Alfresco Community and Alfresco Enterprise
• Used by Athabasca University and the Edmonton
Public School Board
• Evaluated Alfresco Community and upgraded to
Alfresco Enterprise for one year
• No campus Alfresco expertise…. back to RFP we go
Program Preparations (1)
• Needed a certified Alfresco Gold Partner to assist with
Alfresco development work
• RFP awarded to Abstractive Consulting in Edmonton
• Program Manager appointed
• Preliminary work required with Alfresco before it could
be deployed into production and the projects begin
Program Preparations (2)
• Abstractive assisted on the program level with:
Developing a University of Alberta “skin”
Integrating Alfresco with the Campus Computing ID
Integrating Alfresco with Google Mail
Developing “drop box” functionality
Developing a form builder
• Conducted two small pilots while this work was done
• A Security Model was developed and approved by the
EDRMS Steering Committee
• A Privacy Impact Assessment was undertaken
Program Preparations (3)
• Alfresco cluster purchased and set up in the IST secure
server room
• Alfresco Enterprise 4.1 installed on the cluster
• Three environments established:
• EDRMS Technical Working Group established
• Alfresco Developer hired
Program Preparations (4)
• Records and Information Management – a key ingredient for the
EDRMS recipe
• The implementation of an EDRMS is a records management
project that requires significant IT support and collaboration
• While the software and hardware was being prepared, the
framework for Records Management was laid
Records and Information Management
• Policy for managing University records developed and approved
• Function-based record classifications
University-wide, but still flexible
Horizontal implementation by record series
• Recordkeeping metadata standard
Business specific metadata must also be captured
Controlled vocabularies/thesauri
Naming conventions
Scanning standard
Records retention and disposition schedules
Meet legal and business requirements
Before going into production, have you considered:
Audit capabilities
Digital signatures
Digital preservation strategy
Additional equipment to facilitate efficiency
Dual monitors
• End-user training
• Records management education
Records management will become a responsibility of the individual
The ground work is laid. We are ready to go.
Now what?
Many academic and administrative units want “in”.
• How can we accommodate them without being swamped?
• Can we say “no” to some at the risk of having them get their own
shadow system?
• Solution: get them all involved by handling records common to all
units in the University
So, let’s launch three major projects:
1. Undergraduate Student Records
 Office of Primary Responsibility: Office of the Registrar
2. Employee Records
 Office of Primary Responsibility: Human Resource Services
3. Donor Records
 Office of Primary Responsibility: Office of Advancement
For each major project:
• Assign a Project Manager and a Business Analyst
Funding for the Business Analyst provided by the OPR
• Get all the interested units and major faculties involved
• Establish a working group
Faculties, Office of Primary Responsibility, PM, BA, Alfresco Developer,
University Records Officer, Project Owner and other Ex-Officio
Program or Project Manager provides regular updates to the Steering
• This is a chance to re-engineer our business processes and
adopt a set of common processes and forms
How can we get them to think digitally?
Solution: Alfresco “hands on training”
• Held three two hour “hands on training” sessions for all
members of the working groups and potential end users
• Intent was to get a flavor of Alfresco and how the proposed file
structure and security model works (not really “training”)
• Virtual student / employee folders instead of real folders
• They “got it”
• Validation of the proposed folder structures by the Student and
Employee Working groups shortly followed
For the Student and Employee Records:
• Digitization will follow the lifecycle of the student / employee
Graduate Students have their own records; a separate project has been
completed with the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research
• Will occur on a function-based record series basis
Only one authoritative source of truth
Eliminate duplication of information
For Donor Records:
• Further investigation required for the Alfresco Mobile app
Current Status
• Preparations just about complete to begin digitization of
undergraduate student and employee records
• Scanning standards developed; may develop an RFP for scanners
• Storage of electronic transcripts from Apply Alberta
• Purchased a five year Alfresco Enterprise licence
• Ephesoft pilot complete; campus-wide Ephesoft license being
Hopefully we have a well prepared recipe rather than a baked mess
Future Work
• Complete integration of Alfresco with PeopleSoft
• Complete integration of Alfresco with the IMS
• Integrate Ephesoft with Alfresco
• Upgrade Alfresco to version 4.2.2
• End user education and training
Glazr interactive training package
• Continued change management
• Additional workflow development
Future Projects
• Major records series including:
 Financial Services Management
 University Governance
 Student Support Services
 Academic Operations
 Legal Services
 Research Services
• Many rounds of golf (for some of us)
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