Friday, February 11, 2011

Alfresco Test Day 2 - Declare a Record

This is day two of a ten day trial of Alfresco RM, the next step to a paperless office by allowing you to file  records so that your electronic record is authentic and defensible. Today I am testing the "Declare a Record" feature, which includes uploading documents in to folders, updating mandatory metadata, and declaring (or publishing) the record.

The act of declaring the record flips the switch to authenticity. You are declaring, "On this day, this is what is said, by me." (Who, What, When).

I tested uploads in the following formats:

Graphic Interchange Format Image (GIF)
HyperText Markup Language document (e-mail) (HTML)
Joint Photographic Experts Group Image (JPEG)
Microsoft Excel (XLX)
Microsoft Power Point (PPT, PPTX)
Microsoft Word (DOC, DOCX)
Outlook Item (e-mail) (MSG)
Portable Document Format Document (PDF)
Portable Network Graphics Image (PNG)
Text Document (saved e-mail) (TXT)

The upload feature worked beautifully until I tried mixing Outlook and HTML formats with other types. The upload did not show as being completed, but the documents did load after a couple tries. (On subsequent days I had no problems uploading or mixing types). The Outlook format MSG did upload but is not readable within Alfresco. When I downloaded, however, the current version of Outlook opened the document for me. The MSG format fails the authenticity test, as the document must be readable for the lifetime of the record and cannot be dependent on outside software.

I then added mandatory metadata fields for selected records, and declared them. Note the updated documentation for a declared record.

Another test of authenticity is to check if a declared record can be subesquently changed or overwritten. Alfresco does allow me to download and modify a declared record. If I try to upload the modified document under the same name, however, Alfresco modifies the title (i.e. DeclaredRecord.doc and new DeclaredRecord-1.doc). When I tried to modify the title to overwrite the declared record, I was given an error message, below (red text mine). This is good.

I rate this test as a PASS

Records Manager
Work with your IT support to confirm that all users are identified on the system (full name and originating document) to support autofill of mandatory fields. Here are the mandatory fields. Originator, Originating Organization, Date, Publication Date, Name of Document, and Title of Document. Some of these fields are autofilled by Alfresco from the source document.

If your project includes any significant scanning, make sure your scanning process includes capture of the mandatory record characteristics: Originator, Originating Organization, Date, Publication Date, Name of Document, and Title of Document.

Posting of e-mail as records is cumbersome, turning a three-step process in to four steps (save as HTML to shared drive, upload, add metadata, declare).
  • I first saved an e-mail on to my drive in HTML format then uploaded it. The HTML appeared to fail but it uploaded anyways.
  • The Outlook format (msg) fails the authenticity test as it is software-dependent (Outlook)
  • The (txt) format fails the authenticity test as all formatting is lost.
I notice in the Wiki instruction, "Records Management Administration Console", that the Administrator has the power to map metadata elements from E-mail to Alfresco, and also allows for "drag and drop" of e-mail in to Alfresco. Though I cannot test this feature, I suggest that it be an important feature to be reviewed at initial set up, with all mandatory metadata elements mapped.

Because the RM product distinguishes declared records from drafts/copies, I recommend that you do not set up the Records Management module for drafts and working papers. Rather, use Alfresco Document Management (DM) or Collaboration (Share). If users require structure to manage your working documents, create a similar structure to your RM in DM or Share.

I estimate perhaps 5% of total unstructure documents maintained by a system (e-mail, shared drive) would need to be declared a records in RM. An exception to this would be transactional and case activities such as applications and client records, where nearly all documents created would end up as records.
  • If an organization adopted the tight ISO 15489 definition of a record (evidence of a business transaction);
  • Publishes Records and Information Management (RIM) policy including the role of every employee to identify and declare their records to the file plan;
  • Instructs every employee on their obligation to declare business records (evidence of work completed, decisions made, commitments);
  • Audits the RM system for compliance, following up where gaps are found;
  • THEN the organization can make a strong argument, if ever involved in e-discovery, that scrutiny be limited to the official record only (5% of total documents held). Draft, informal, reference, and incomplete information, with potentially inconsistent or embarrassing content, would be excluded from prying eyes.
This managed use of the RM system could be very good for the organization, making RM achievable again.

Business User
From within a file folder, uploading a document and declaring it as a record is a three step process:
  1. Upload: Click "File" from your top bar. You are prompted; "Are you filing an electronic or paper record?" Select electronic.Click on the button "Files to Upload" and browse to the location to upload files. Select by double clicking, and when you have all your files selected, click OK.
  2. Add Metadata: Your documents are now loaded in the folder, "Undeclared Record". You may have the option to "Declare as Record", but most likely you will need to add metadata first. Click on the "Add Metadata" option on the right of the document, add all mandatory fields (starred), and Save.
  3. Declare Record: Click on the "Declare Record" option on the right of the document. You will notice that the yellow "Undeclared Record" warning is removed, and date filed, publication, and originators are all recorded.

The advantage of declaring a record:
  • You can distinguish the original, official, or "master" record from drafts.
  • You always know where your original is.
  • Declared records help you manage all your commitments, evidence of work promised and done.
  • If ever challenged through litigation, you could argue that discovery be limited to your official record repository, reducing risk and cost to your organization. (This could only be argued if you can produce evidence that declaring records is the stated and followed process for all records in your organization).
I am compelled to list these advantages because this three-step process is cumbersome. There are too many mandatory fields to be entered manually. This is not the fault of the developer; these are all mandatory entries as identified by the DOD and Dublin Core standards to confirm and maintain the authenticity of the record  (see notes below). A solution would be to build intelligence in to the software to autofill these mandatory fields.

Because of this distinguishing of declared records and drafts/copies, I recommend that you do not file drafts and working papers from your unmanaged content (shared drives and e-mail) in the Records Management module. Rather, use Alfresco Document Management (DM) or Collaboration (Share). If you need structure to manage your working documents, create a similar structure to your RM in DM or Share.

The manual entering of mandatory metadata elements is cumbersome.
  • I see that Title autofills with the Name, with the option to ovveride. This is good.
  • Wherever possible, the system should autofill mandatory elements. Publication Date, for instance, could default to the current date (with the user having the option to override).
  • Can we tighten up the metadata page to one screen?
  • Put "Declare as Record" button at the bottom of the Metadata entry screen to eliminate a step.
  • Does the enterprise version allow for drag-and-drop? This would be especially useful for e-mail.

Can a declared record be modified or overwritten? DOD 5015.2, C2.2.3.7.
Dublin Core for Metadata, cross referenced to DOD 5015.2  and Alfresco field names as listed below.

DOD 5015.2Dublin CoreAlfresco Field
C2.T3.5contributor, creator, publisherOriginator (mandatory)
C2.T3.6contributorOriginating Organization (mandatory)
C2.T3.4datePublication Date (mandatory)
C2.T3.2subject, titleName, Title (mandatory)
C2.T3.1identifierUnique Record Identifier (mandatory)
C2.T3.10dateDate Received
C2.T3.9format [MIME]Format
C2.T3.8typeMimetype, Media Type
C2.T3.12relationOther Addressees
C2.T3.7Supplemental Marking List