No records manager today would deny that managing electronic records is the biggest challenge that they face. This applies whether they work in the private sector or the public sector, in a large or small organization. However, managing electronic records is not only their challenge. The challenge also confronts IT managers and developers, because it depends on technology, and senior managers of the organization, because the information that records carry is a valuable and unique asset. It confronts middle managers, because they are responsible for implementing the policies and procedures to achieve the organization's goals; indeed, everyone in the organization faces the challenge, because the norm today is for each employee to have a PC on their desk to work with electronic records.
Managing electronic records is also a complex undertaking because it involves the creation, capture and organization of electronic records, and providing ongoing access to them. These records are very varied in nature; timely disposal must be arranged for those which have a fixed life, and longterm preservation for those records of historical value that need to survive over time. Finally, managing electronic records is a global phenomenon, although as yet countries in different continents are at varying stages of development in responding to the challenge, which continues to evolve as technologies develop and organizations change.
So, managing electronic records involves multiple roles, an extensive range of aspects covering the organizational, technical and legal issues, and ongoing exploration and investigation to achieve and share greater effectiveness and efficiency. To be successful, these all have to come together in holistic solutions, at the strategic and operational levels.
For this book we took as our starting point the challenge as outlined above. Managing Electronic Records is multi-authored and the professional expertise and backgrounds of the contributors reflect the multiplicity of roles needed to describe this subject. There are chapters from IT specialists; consultants, including one in organizational development; a managing director; academic researchers; and, of course, practising records managers. There are contributions from each of the five continents to reflect the truly global activity and developments in the field. As well as individual chapters on such key aspects as metadata, standards, digital preservation, ethics, legal issues and competencies, the book begins with an introductory chapter which outlines the challenge and proposes a top-level strategic solution.