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Records Life Cycle Renewed

Recently, my CRM exam studies prompted a review of the life cycle concept, so I turned to Records and Information Management: Fundamentals of Professional Practice, 2nd edition. In his explanation of the “information life cycle,” author William Saffady, Ph.D., applies the birth-to-death metaphor to recorded information, which almost inevitably declines in value over time.

According to traditional records management, business interests shift from timely accessibility to cost-effective storage, depending on the frequency of reference during the life of a record. At the close of the life cycle, the reference activity and business value diminish toward zero, and the record can be discarded as long as there are no other requirements for its retention.

Fortunately, the current issue of ARMA International’s Information Management was on its way to my mailbox as I attempted to reconcile the business interests reflected in the traditional life cycle with the decreasing cost of capturing and storing electronic records. In his “RIM Fundamentals” feature article “Records Life Cycle: A Cradle-to-Grave Metaphor,” Gordon E.J. Hoke, CRM, offers a contemporary and common-sense explanation of the records life cycle.

According to Hoke, the life cycle metaphor can serve records managers as a tool to bridge departmental communication boundaries and collaborate with IT. The concept illustrates the dynamic nature of records and underscores disposal as an important activity to be managed. Although the life cycle concept is format-neutral, Hoke allows that low-cost electronic storage shifts the conversation about business interests toward reductions in administrative costs and risk management benefits of records management.

Finally, Hoke adheres to the “biological analogy” of disposition as the metaphorical death (destruction) of a record. He does not include backup or preservation as options to close the life cycle, upsetting the traditional placement of disposition at the end of the cycle. In all, Hoke’s article illustrates the ways in which traditional records management concepts can be made new and continue to serve records managers.

Did you know?

ARMA International members can access current IM issues online.
Click here to read the September-October 2011 issue.
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Written by: AGriffin


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