Records Management and IBM

free essayThis project aims at providing an overview of records management practices in IBM global, as compared to global standards. Records management is the standard practice in business and also in the public sector. In business, it is not just a good practice but it is also outlined as a requirement in almost every country by law to keep the documentation of all aspects of operations. There are also certain guidelines as to how these records should be kept, where they should be kept and for what purposes they should be archived. Many companies also have specific guidelines as for how long the documents should be kept, depending on their relevance and the criteria for discarding the irrelevant documents is also clear.

The practice of records management is essential, as it serves to support the legal, fiscal, administrative and other needs of the company, so as to streamline the operations with other agencies, such as the concerned government departments (Bae & Pastuch, 2013). Records about document creation, preservation and discarding should also be maintained. In the present day, order of operations of the records management department in a company is often faced with a huge task due to the diverse modes of storage of information that stretch across media; for example, soft copies, that include hard discs, SD discs, microfilms, electronic and other technologically advanced media, hard copies are, of course, on paper.

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Records have been defined by (44 U.S Code 3301) as any paper, book, map, photograph, machine decipherable material or any other document, not considering its physical structure or features, made or collected by any of the U.S. government agencies under the Federal rule or with regards to the operation of public dealings as well as preserved or apposite for safeguarding by that bureau or its appointed successor as a proof of the firm, operations, policies, measures and any other Government’s dealings or due to the informal significance of the data contained therein (Bae & Pastuch, 2013). When carrying out the documents’ disposal, it is vital to remember that they are categorized into two sections, one is Permanent, that includes those documents with lasting value, such as date of registration or inception, ownership structure by timeline and any other issued certificates that directly affect the long term operations of the business, such as private agreements and leases. These are sensitive in nature and are held, in duplicate, in a secure locker either in a bank, security firm or in government agencies, such as a registrar of companies (Lowry & South Carolina, 2014). Temporary documents have a limited time value and can be disposed off within the guidelines of a document’s life cycle set; they are, however, required to be backed up in a mass storage format, in case reference is to be made in future.

Records Management is defined as the process of planning, organizing, directing, training, budgeting and controlling in the documents’ life cycle (Saffady, 2011). The need for a good records management practice, meaning that they are both available and accurate, helps to preserve the rights – legal and financial. The company and all stakeholders’ rights in the business, such as the employees, suppliers, creditors, distributors, subsidiaries and government and secondly maintaining records in good order assist the business in growth, helping it to move forward since future projections are primarily based on historical data. In this way, trends are easy to formulate, both backwards and forward into the future; for example, an audit report produces information about the way business has been operating within the previous financial year, gives a reflection on the errors committed through mapping of inconsistencies and assists the external auditor in giving a formative recommendation based on this information. The internal auditor is then able to liaise with the finance and accounts department and they are, consequently, able to give accurate information, presented in the annual financial statements.

It is important to note the boundaries within which ownership of records is maintained within an organization and the particular instances that may oblige the company to cede ownership or be forced to produce certain documents to aid external inquiry, according to the international standards. Documents that remain in the company’s private ownership, unless a court order is issued to warrant their release include labor force related documents, such as employee bios, health records and employee contractual agreements, Confidential financial data, such as private ownership details and intra-departmental communications, for example, internal memos, procurement details and various legal documents (litigations, settlements, advices) that fall under the protection of the attorney-client privilege. In the life cycle of a document, the Federal government has set other guidelines that fall after disposal of documents, guidelines that are contained in the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1994 and amended by the congress (44 USC Sections 3501-3520); its purpose is to first, minimize the burden of paperwork for individuals, small and medium enterprises, state and local governments and other entities. Secondly, it is meant to reduce the cost of collecting, using, maintaining and disseminating the information, and, thirdly, it aids in providing the maximum access to the collected information, maintained and disseminated, fourth is to have centralized and coordinated information point, where possible and necessary, in order to enable making uniform policies, fifth is to ensure that technological advancements are adopted to enable fast data acquisition and processing to consequently enhance service delivery, increase output, make informed decisions and reduce fraud and misappropriation. Finally, these guidelines stipulate the rights of the document (information) holder, as they are enshrined in the Privacy Act and other related laws.

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Due to the inaccessibility of information locally, this report is based, on a minor extent, on primary sources and, to the larger extent, secondary sources. Information contained in this report is collected, researched, verified and then used to make a sound analysis. However, some information about the company is not available online and, hence the gaps are filled with hypothetical and sometimes real estimates. The sources of information will be credited in the reference section.

IBM Overview

IBM was incorporated on June 16th in 1911 and is a global telecommunications company incorporated on June the 16th 1911. It operates in 5 business areas, which are Systems and Tech-STG, Global tech Services-GTC, Software, Global Business Services-GBS, as well as Global financing. The company is still perceived as the world’s leader in terms of revenue from operations, reaching an unprecedented 88 billion dollars in the year 2000 and had a performance revenue of 81.8 billion dollars in 2015. The company has also led in quality and brand recognition for most of the past half century. It specializes in both hardware components, as well as software development; for example, it sponsors and develops the software for servers, produces mass storage hardware, custom-made and designer micro-chips and a wide range of business applications. The current Information and technology market has nonetheless seen a decline in IBM’s global dominance, but still the company continues to enjoy the unrivalled business capacity in terms of consultancy and business outsourcing. The company has inter-company business and industry linkages that ensure that its core business remains sound, it is undoubtedly the company that has nurtured the personal computer brand and, therefore, investors continue to trust in its history when making decisions about doing business. IBM also enjoys a wide customer base that depends on the company directly or by proxy, especially in refurbishments, modifications and expertise.

IBM is considered one of the biggest businesses worldwide by reach. It has numerous branches or partners across every continent. There are 5 branches in Africa and the Middle East; there are 8 branches in the Asia Pacific region, and the company has its widest reach in Europe with 13 locations, 2 branches in Latin America and 2 locations in the USA. These locations are only partner or subsidiary branches with multiple other outlets, where the company has established its footprint.

The company has had a somewhat steady number of employees and has been the second biggest employer in the US for quite some time. The number of employees currently stands at 378, 000 down from 434, 000 in 2012, though the world is fast moving away from manual labor. It is even surprising that a tech giant is still able to maintain such a large number of dedicated employees with the current I.T trends, such as cloud computing, where jobs are outsourced to online shadow workers.

The five business segments that IBM operates in mean that the company handles a diverse range of information. Firstly, the company is a partner to many other companies, as it offers I.T. solutions and consultancy services to different companies in its industry. Therefore, its business segments help to unravel the kind of information the company maintains. The company is listed, therefore, it must maintain shareholder information in terms of ownership structure and number of shares held; IBM will also maintain client information and profiles due to its consultancy business; it has to also have employee data, the company will also have information about its operations abroad, the company’s legal team will also keep the information about current and previous litigations, as well as other confidential and legal documents.

IBM uses System Management Facility to perform the following duties, Reporting dependability, Billing users, scrutinizing the configuration, preparing jobs, abridging direct access quantity activity, weighing up data set doings, profiling organization resource utilization, as well as upholding the system security (Antos et al., 2005). IBM stores its records in an artificial system, called The IBM Enterprise Records, which is a component of IBM FileNet P8 Suite. The system stores both electronic and physical information in New York in the U.S. IBM uses the System Management Facility software to handle its records.

How It Works

As outlined in earlier chapters, Records Management is the process of planning, organizing, directing, training, budgeting and controlling in the life cycle of documents (Saffady, 2011). Different regions and countries have set the standards on how records should be kept, maintained and stored within their jurisdictive geographical areas and other regions under their administrative control. The practice of adopting standards, used in another country, is widely accepted due to various factors, such as the incapacity to formulate own standards, mainly due to the shortage of experienced personnel, limited systems maintenance resources or similarity in terms of governance and international cooperation. Standards, not only in records management, but also across the board, for example, in business, offer an enabling yet professional environment for benchmarking and also for advisory and informational purposes. These standards simplify an access to information and ease of usage due to adoption of a uniformed way of conducting records management. These standards enable managers and records management practitioners face the daily challenges of archiving and information control. A strict adherence to proper international records management enables the business to create functioning systems, policies and operational procedures, thereby ensuring that there is a high quality in performance and service delivery. However, it is important to note that setting standards does not always mean that they are adhered to, just like having a measure does not compel its use.

There are two general classifications of international standards that are, de facto and de jure. De jure standards are the principles that are set to be followed by law; these principles include The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), The Standards Australia, The Standards Council of Canada (SCC), as well as The British Standards Institute (BSI). On the other hand, De facto standards are not formal but are erroneously misconstrued to be formal standards and these include NARA, acronym for The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, The Department of Defense in the U.S., which pre-qualifies and sets the standards for the military and publications by international standards bodies, such as ISO “Technical report”, TR-13028. As it has been outlined in the previous paragraphs, there are numerous records management standards available internationally and regionally, but for purposes of this report, focus will be aimed at the international standards and also the most acclaimed regional standards. These international records management standards are outlined and explained below:

ISO-International Organization for Standards

ISO 23081-1: 2006 is an international records management standard, formulated by ISO, and that stipulates the guidelines that standardize records management, especially in a bulk form or in simpler and of less bulky nature. These guidelines are relevant in application to records and their respective metadata, secondly, to all processes that affect them, thirdly, to any organization that is tasked with their management and, finally, to any system they reside in.

ISO 23081 is the standard that sets the background for creation, management and use of RM metadata and also expounds on the guidelines that oversee these processes. The ISO 23081 is an international standard that serves as a framework to understanding, applying and usage of metadata within the guidelines of ISO 15489, which is a predecessor standard on application of the latter. This standard outlines the benefits, accrued from records management metadata, in the day to day business operations and procedures and in various roles, as well as sorts of metadata, which supports the company along with its processes in records management (Read-Smith & Ginn, 2015). It also gives the guidelines on how to manage these metadata. It, however, does not issue an ideal set of records management metadata sets to be applied, since they vary in detail; for example, where there are different types of organizations, there is different nature of businesses and location of operations or jurisdiction. ISO 23081 will, however, assess the current metadata sets in relation to the requirements, as stipulated by ISO 15489. The latter part of this in depth explanation about the standard is a “Technical report” that is more constrained in the particular periods of application, meaning that they need regular updates as newer challenges and aspects of records management arise. The Technical aspects are in part 2 and 3 of the frame work.

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The scope of this standard ISO 23081 encompasses the principles that support and govern the records management metadata. The principles apply to the individual records, all business processes that affect the records and their metadata, all the systems that the principles are applicable to, and, finally, any organization that is tasked with managing the records. The guidelines that govern ISO 23081 are provided for by ISO 15489 and for the purposes of this report several terms are defined, such as agent who can either be an individual or a group or a company that is tasked with the role of records management (Capture and creation). An encoding scheme is an inclusive list for the values that are acceptable in natural language or alternatively as a syntax-encoded text string, specifically customized for machine processing. A schema is a plan that explains the correlation between metadata elements, usually by establishing a set of guidelines for the management of metadata as pertains the semantics, the syntax encode and obligation levels of the values.

With this standard, the Records management team is able to identify the current state of metadata captured across organizations; secondly, the standard provides a guide as to what to work on and when, the RM is able to evaluate progress in the development of guidelines for the application, in particular, systems and projects and, finally, it offers the benchmark to evaluate system and project readiness.

ANSI-American National Standards Institute

ANSI is not only a national standard but it also supports the use and adoption of U.S. principles globally, it also advocates for the U.S. standard and policy and also provides for both technical positions in the international realm and for the bigger part on a regional level, where the institute works with regional standards organizations in Canada and South America. The institute is also the only U.S. agent and non-treaty global standards organizations’ member that pays dues, which are the International Organization for Standards, along with the International Electro-technical Commission (IEC), which pays dues via the U.S. National committee. It is also important to note that ANSI is a founding affiliate of the ISO, along with the fact that it also provides leadership in governance roles for both ISO and IEC.

It is via ANSI that the U.S. government gains entry into ISO, as well as IEC standard’s development procedures, since ANSI takes part in almost all of the methodological plans of both IEC and ISO and is the main administrative arm of many of their sub-partners and groups.

Its roles internationally, that is also a part of ISO, include accreditation of U.S. Technical consultative groups, whose core business is to develop and converse U.S. positions on activities, as well as votes of the worldwide technical committee. In most cases, U.S. principles are communicated to the ISO, as well as IEC, via ANSI and also USNC. Here, they are redeveloped, modified or adopted entirely by the ISO as a part of global standards, and it is for this rationale that ANSI plays a vital role and contribution to the setting of international standards that govern the sales of consumer products and also help prevent local sub-standards to favor local products. Since international technical committees are served by helpers from the industry, along with the Government and not the ANSI personnel, the triumph of these undertakings is, in most cases, reliant on the enthusiasm and commitment of the U.S. private sector, as well as the nation to fund the efforts of ensuring strong technical contribution in the management of global standards. Information and records management standards are handled by the NIRMA branch of ANSI.

BSI – British Standards Institute

Every business, company or organization produces, sends, uses and stores information in various forms. For the business to have smooth operations, it has to posses all the truthful information, which has to be stored appropriately and used at the right time. The loss or misuse of information in terms of illegal copying, theft, or damage can be a source of serious litigation and can even lead to business failure. All of the organization’s activities involve the transmission and use of information and, therefore, there is a need to ensure that this information is stored and kept securely and in the right way. In the modern information archiving systems, the computers can create, store, process and disseminate information to the intended destinations in ways that were never envisioned before. The added advantages to information handling brought about by these systems can be of great benefit, if managed appropriately without bias of dissemination.

British Standards Institute offers the answers to proper records management and ensures that information is stored in its original format, whether electronic, paper form or in microfilm and in whatever way it has been stored. BSI has published a diverse range of content that regards records management that aims to implement effective information and records management solutions. Among the publications by BSI are legal admissibility, archiving and scanning and these are both National and international standards (British Standards Institution, 2015). BSI information management systems ensure that information needs by both National and International users are classified, structured valued, secured, measured, managed validated and that they meet international standards.

Standards Australia AS ISO 15489

AS ISO 15489 records management is an Australian Standard for record management. It has been widely adopted in the Asia pacific region, especially in New Zealand and, in some cases, in Canada. Australia has some of the oldest standardization codes for records management, starting in 1996 (Pollack & Adler, 2014). This standard was adopted in Australia, back in 2006. Back in 2002, Standards Australia published standards on records management.

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AS ISO 15489.1 is an avowal on records organization that offers guidelines on the principles, as well as policies held up by AS ISO 15489.2, which is a technical information that offers more details and guidelines that enhance some of the best record keeping practices. It is the predecessor to, AS 4390-1996, Records management, but it is just a review and improvement of the original and, therefore, there is permanence on the principles. AS ISO 15489 is the Australian index of codification to the International Standard on Records Management (Standards Australia International, 2002). ISO 15489 was accepted in 2001. Therefore, it embodies worldwide best practices for record keeping.

IBM corporation uses the three outlined standards in order to benchmark their records management protocol; these are ISO 23081, which is as highlighted, an international standard that is seen as the blanket standard for the other three standards. IBM also implements standards from National Information and Records Management Association standards, especially when it is involved with contractual business with the American government. Thirdly, ANSI also becomes an important benchmark when IBM works with U.S. companies; for example, when conducting cloud computing consultancy for start-ups in the Silicon Valley. The company has done various consultancy works for Apple, for example, recently the company entered into a partnership agreement with an ability to jointly work on a project.

In conclusion, records management standards help to normalize and make uniform information and records management procedures. Without these standards, it would become virtually impossible for companies to conduct businesses abroad. These standards have eased business operations, since the Australians have realized the importance of setting standards on the ways to keep records and where to keep them; modifications have been done to these standards to ensure that each aspect of records management is carefully captured. The global business environment is now a better place with these standards.

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