The question of costs should not be an excuse for the implementation of a good document management system

According to Pedro Antonio Cabrera Hernández , director of Document Management and Archives of the Tinajo City Council, “without proper document management we can put the very viability of our company at risk”. For this reason, from his point of view, “costs should not be an excuse to implement a good document management system”.

1- Good morning, Peter. How important is document management today for companies?

It is of the utmost importance, it would be completely unacceptable if a document management policy did not exist within a company. We must be aware that document management is not only the incorporation of technology but the implementation of a continuous process for the effective control of document production, which will require a prior analysis that allows a precise answer to strategic questions: What documents?, when?, how?, in what environment? And most importantly, for how long? The answers should reveal the information needs that allow us to outline our operational strategy in terms of records management.

2- On the other hand, we must not forget that the business world must adapt to the new legislative changes…

Exact. Now the company is obliged to interact with the administration by electronic means and this implies a profound change in the way in which it will have to face the new requirements implied by the realization of its business object, which it will not be able to carry out Without a document management system that allows you to account for all the evidence that provides value to the company and taking into account the context in which the business world is registered, the document must be understood as one more asset of the organization, since this is produced as a reflection of business transactions, a much broader term that processes and, therefore, requires a different way of conceptualizing adequate document management.

The question of costs should not be an excuse for the implementation of a good document management system

3- Could we then say that all companies, large and small, require document management?

Indeed, all without exception. All of them produce and receive documents, which on the other hand are a reflection, as I have already said, of business transactions, which imply rights and duties between parties. Of course, the breadth of the system for a small company will not be the same as for a large organization, but they all have the same needs and the market for document management software means that the size of an organization is not a handicap for agile management and document efficiency.

4- What is more expensive: having document management or not having it?

The question is simple, without proper document management we can put the very viability of our company at risk. The question of costs should not be an excuse for the implementation of a good document management system and for this we can opt for Cloud Computing, a technology that allows us to implement a management system without the need to acquire software or large technological infrastructure, which translates into significant cost savings, especially for SMEs. Thus, the EU has assumed cloud services as a perfectly valid solution for all sectors. On the other hand, we cannot lose sight of the fact that, in order to use this type of service, strict security requirements must be demanded from the service provider, since the information is not found in our own facilities. As a counterpart to the supposed loss of control, we obtain agility, security, elimination of costs related to the maintenance of computer systems, the ease of expanding services on demand and, finally, the guarantee against loss of information due to technological obsolescence. something that, incidentally, is not usually taken into account.

The future of the sector lies in digital transformation

5- Returning to the issue of security… Is it safe to have the documents in a document management system?

A document management system by itself does not provide security, or rather, it does not provide all the necessary security that will depend largely on the technological infrastructure where the system is registered. Information security is linked to management, but it is applied not to the management system itself but to the technological infrastructure that surrounds it and feeds it, which implies the implementation of strong security measures not only in the servers, but also to each of the terminals that we use to carry out our activities within the company. Everyone knows the latest attacks on large companies, at the same time and most amazingly, around the world and by extremely simple means, such as an email capable of encrypting and causing chaos in the system, making our documents inaccessible, giving result in the paralysis of the organization, loss of competitiveness and also a loss of business reputation with our customers who could undoubtedly be affected. A document manager, if it is accompanied by a robust security system properly applied, must provide us with sufficient guarantees that our documents are safe.

6- If you had to say just one, what would be the greatest advantage of document management?

Agility in terms of accessibility to information. A document management system, implemented by professionals trained in information disciplines, whether they are document managers or archivists, would not only give good results in this sense, but could also become, and it would be desirable if it were, an essential basis for decision-making. , thereby providing added value to management.

The main challenge we will have to face will be the adequate conservation of electronic evidence

7- And the biggest drawback?

As I said at the beginning, the business world, like the administration itself, is obliged to produce electronic documents, this fact implies a profound cultural change in terms of what has been considered natural in document management until now. The fact of facing the electronic document goes through profound changes, especially in terms of the physicality of the document, which now ceases to exist, forcing us to go from managing physical objects to managing data. Relatively new issues such as metadata or the use of electronic signatures, their sealing and conservation, as well as the necessary interoperability, will require continuous training for each and every one of the agents involved in document management.

8- Where do you think the future of the sector lies?

Without hesitation, towards digital transformation. But for this it is essential to understand that it is not just a change of management, it means a change of concept, of the operating model, rethinking the question that reproducing in an electronic environment the procedures used in the conventional management of paper documents only It will lead us to the digitization of errors, especially conceptual ones. Of course we are facing a great challenge, but if it is achieved, I think we would be touching the future.

The greatest advantage of document management has to do with accessibility to information

9- And what challenges will we have to face in that future?

For the proper conservation of electronic evidence, this will be the main challenge. Today there is a wide debate about long-term digital preservation, especially within the Public Administration, which requires the implementation of the so-called Single Electronic Archive, which, on the other hand, is being a victim, from my point of view, of an unnecessary divergence as to its definition. My position regarding the necessary requirements for long-term conservation is based on understanding that it would be more prudent to think, not in the long term, but in many short periods. Technology does not show signs of paralysis, rather the contrary, technological obsolescence will force us to carry out migration activities, transfer between systems, format changes and all this, each time, in shorter periods. A good and generally accepted reference model would be an OAIS, under the ISO 14721 standard, which, although it places special emphasis on conservation needs, actually defines both a functional and informational structure that allows a digital archive to be designed on a rigorous and stable basis. whose conceptual reputation is widely accepted and beyond question.

10- A wish for the future of the sector

That the professionals of document management and archives face together the new reality, such as the need for organizations to produce, store and retrieve digital documentation chronologically immediately, which will undoubtedly imply new ways of doing things. I believe that we must analyze certain concepts and adapt them to the different archival realities and now that we are faced with the obligation to make the leap from the paper procedure to the electronic document, it would be the right time to debate, rethink the state of the matter and orient ourselves in the search new models.