A U.S.-based asset management firm with more than $240 billion in assets needed a better way to manage its records. Although the firm had implemented SharePoint over five years ago, many of the firm’s 2,200 employees were still using shared drives to store working documents. That meant there was no version control, non-existent or inconsistent categorization of documents, no ability to conduct proper legal discovery, and there was a difficulty ensuring compliance and proper audit trails.
Last year, the firm, under the leadership of the Chief Technology Officer, launched a major Records Management initiative. The goals included mitigating risk by ensuring that the company could reliably access the appropriate documents to respond to litigation, more accurately conducting internal audits and ensuring compliance with government and industry regulations. The firm also wanted to institute retention policies that would enable it to purge unnecessary documents, thus saving storage space and associated costs. “We have decades of content that is taking up terabytes of space,” says the IT manager in charge of the project. “Ultimately we hope to purge much of that content.”
SharePoint represents the foundation of the Records Management initiative. “Convincing employees to use SharePoint to store and categorize documents is vital to the success of the overall initiative,” according to the IT manager, who is in charge of the company’s SharePoint Center of Excellence. Each department, and even individual functions within each department, has its own document site within SharePoint, built to serve its particular needs. Each group identifies its content, determines how to categorize it and decides what retention policies will apply.
A pilot project was initiated in the Legal Department; the lawyers were storing hundreds of gigabytes of material on a shared drive, all of it unorganized. But there was stiff resistance to using SharePoint. The Legal Department was using file folders on a shared drive, but didn’t know how to use a browser to access documents. “Then, one of our engineers went to the SharePoint Conference and found harmon.ie. He texted me from outside the booth and said, ‘we need this for our document management system because it will let us be successful,’” said the manager. “We knew the lawyers wouldn’t want to go to SharePoint.” Because attorneys work in Microsoft Outlook most of the time, harmon.ie was the perfect solution.
“When we saw harmon.ie emulating the experience of Outlook, we knew it would be a killer technology to drive adoption,” he says. “We realized that this was a way to bring them an experience that they were familiar with, because it’s right within Outlook. When we showed them the capability of harmon.ie, it caught on.”
Subsequently, projects were launched in the Compliance and Internal Audit departments, where staff was able to categorize and track documents to ensure that all relevant regulations were being met.
Through the harmon.ie interface, users are automatically prompted for metadata to move a document onto a SharePoint site, which ensures proper categorization and searchability. “With harmon.ie, ‘we’ve enabled processes and the tracking of content that we never had before’”, says the IT manager. The Audit Department was better able to track the various audits it needed to conduct according to a specified schedule and ensure proper audit trails. With metadata that included dates, records could be automatically purged according to the various departments’ retention policies.
A staff of nine people is building out the project across the entire company, with an additional four advisers from records management. The firm plans to roll harmon.ie out to all 2,200 employees.
Additional departments are being added all the time, at a rate of one or two every couple of weeks. New users are trained in groups of 10 to 15. This training consists of hands-on, live training, in the classroom with live access to their own computers. Users learn how to create content, find content and share content. They also learn when and how to use metadata, and why it’s important. “We’ve had users drag things into SharePoint using Windows Explorer, leaving everything checked out and untagged and then [complaining] that SharePoint doesn’t work,” says the manager. The harmon.ie interface ensures that required metadata is entered when checking documents into SharePoint.