What is rules-based recordkeeping?

Bruce Miller, President of RIMtech Consulting explains the pros and cons of rules-based recordkeeping.

Brenda Prowse

Written by

Brenda Prowse

Reviewed by

Share on Social Media
March 14, 2019
What is rules-based recordkeeping?

Finding it hard to keep up with this fast-paced industry?

Subscribe to FILED Newsletter.  
Your monthly round-up of the latest news and views at the intersection of data privacy, data security, and governance.
Subscribe Now

Our conversation

Erica Toelle: Hi, I'm Erica Toelle, Product Evangelist for RecordPoint.

Bruce Miller: My name is Bruce Miller, and I'm the President of RIMtech Consulting. RIMtech is an independent vendor-neutral consulting firm specializing in electronic document and recordkeeping systems. Most of what I do, Erica, is help buyers of this technology successfully deploy it.

What is Rules Based Recordkeeping?

Erica Toelle: Excellent. First, I've read your book Managing Records in Microsoft SharePoint, and one of the things I love that you mention in here is the idea of rules based recordkeeping. Could you talk a little bit more about what that is?

Bruce Miller: Absolutely. Rules-based recordkeeping is critical to making a project successful. It's both a technology and a technique. It's available from a limited number of vendors today. Although, we need it from more. It's a method whereby users are not required to specify what are documents or records. Also, users do not have to know how to classify them against the retention schedule or when to make them records. Finally, they do not need to know where to store them. So, those four key elements can be automated entirely with rules-based recordkeeping. I believe that any modern document and record system needs this capability.

What are the benefits of rules-based recordkeeping?

Erica Toelle: Sure. Next, what are some of the benefits that a company would realize from adopting rules based recordkeeping approach?

Bruce Miller: There are two main benefits. First, is user adoption. If we count on users to manually and voluntarily put effort into identifying records and classifying them, generally speaking, that never goes well. It just does not. So, benefit number one is user adoption. People use the system, but without realizing it, they're also supporting recordkeeping. That's benefit number one.

Second, is is classification accuracy rate. No matter how big or small a document and records management system is, it absolutely must have an accurate classification. Meaning, all the documents must be assigned to the correct category in the retention schedule. If that doesn't happen, then downstream when we destroy records in accordance with that retention schedule, they will be making the wrong decision. So, it'll be destroyed too early or too late. It's critical that it be accurate. The industry norm accuracy level is 85%. Somehow you have to be above 85% for all documents. All records.

Challenges of rules-based recordkeeping

Erica Toelle: That makes complete sense. What are some of the challenges that companies typically face when they're first transitioning to this type of approach?

Bruce Miller: Sure. There are a few standard ones. The biggest one is the retention schedule itself. All buyers of this technology have an existing retention schedule. But, that retention schedule may not be as correct, up to date, and as accurate as it may be. It won't work with modern software because it doesn't have the characteristics that the software is looking for. I'll give you an example. One example is, modern software allows us to use multiple retention rules per category. Some software doesn't allow that, but most do. So, the retention schedule as good as it may need to be reconfigured and reshaped. I call it reshaping, to be loaded into and used by the modern RBR style system. That's one challenge. Another challenge is metadata. For rules-based recordkeeping to work, you must have useful metadata. Effective metadata means it's suitable for the business, but it also enforces compliance invisibly in the background. So, those are the two significant challenges that companies face. I spend a lot of my time helping develop tools and methods for getting those two things done correctly.

Adoption tips for rules-based recordkeeping

Erica Toelle: So, if a company is switching to rules-based recordkeeping, is there any training they need to go through or other types of kind of the people side of the technology change?

Bruce Miller: Yes, good question. A few don't need training because they're just so keen that they learned it on their own, but I don't recommend that for anyone. So they take vendor training, and then they receive further instruction from someone like myself who specializes in this. So, there's training involved. There is always self-learning, but they need much coaching. That's what I do. So, a large part of my business practice is coaching buyers of this technology on how to get past the technology, how to learn it, how to master it, how to adopt it, and how to utilize it correctly.

Resources for rules-based recordkeeping

Erica Toelle: If people would like to learn more, what are some resources that they could explore?

Bruce Miller: Well, I can name two of them for sure.

One is a book. There's a book out there, and it's called Managing Records in Microsoft SharePoint. The one you showed earlier. That has a chapter on RBR, and it has all the science in it. The terminologies, the techniques and the approach for automating records in SharePoint. The book has all that in it.

The second source which I'm finding is significantly growing is seminars. So, we conduct a roadshow, two-day workshops, intense workshops that explain and simulate an entire project deployment from start to finish. In two days, the attendees get exposed to the software, they do software simulation exercises, they make 21 key decisions that are necessary to make the project succeed, they stumble and fall into all the problems that come up, and we bail them out. So, at the end of the two days, they are very confident in how to use the technology and how to apply it and what's involved in the project.

Watch the interview


» RIMtech Website
» RIMtech Education Resources
» RIMtech Book: Managing Records in Microsoft SharePoint

Discover Connectors

View our expanded range of available Connectors, including popular SaaS platforms, such as Salesforce, Workday, Zendesk, SAP, and many more.

Explore the platform

Talk to an Expert

Discover, govern, and control all your data, wherever it is – confidently and at scale.

Talk to an Expert
Share on Social Media

Assure your customers their data is safe with you

Protect your customers and your business with
the Data Trust Platform.