Ride the Rising Electronic Document Discovery and Compliance Tide with Viewing and Conversion Technology

Ever since the federal government passed Sarbanes Oxley in 2002 there has been a tide rising within Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Records Information Management (RIM): The need to store and archive more data and ensure rapid access to it, in order to navigate litigation demands and prepare for a potential electronic document discovery process.

Implementing successful eDiscovery solutions requires an effective Records Management plan. But complications can mount as the quantity of content that companies need to store grows. The sheer volume of it presents challenges to finding and ensuring access to specific information contained within particular documents and conserving archival space. As you research options to make your RIM and ECM systems more efficient, viewing and conversion technology may not come to mind immediately; but it could significantly improve your ability to safely access critical content and archive it.

When it comes to compliance and/or preparing for eDiscovery, you will most likely be searching for solutions that address two particular issues:

  1. Storing critical content, in its original state, for an indefinite amount of time.
  2. Accessing and sharing documents on demand, for example: in cases of litigation.            

Records Management plays a critical role in both cases. The Authority on Records Management and Archiving Records (ARMA) defines Records Management as “the systematic control of records throughout their lifecycle.” The last stage of the lifecycle is usually referred to as the Store/Archive stage, where you define how and where you will keep your data and ensure access to the records. Some companies need to guarantee that they can read archived documents for up to 100 years.

To address these needs there are two primary options you should evaluate-- conversion and viewing solutions.

Option 1:  File Conversion

Quality conversion technology will enable you to convert files to a standard format that can withstand the test of time. For example TIFF has been around for 22 years and is a common format for storing and sending raster graphics. Its longevity bodes well for its future; it won’t be disappearing any time soon and it is likely that tomorrow’s applications will support it. It also supports multiple formats, enabling multi-page records to be saved as single TIFFs. Conversion can be performed using a batch conversion application or you can build conversion functionality directly into your application using a conversion SDK.

With compliance demanding that you save more files for longer periods of time, space may become an issue. Companies are beginning to convert files to the PDF/A format. PDF is more compact than TIFF, therefore it requires significantly less archival space. It is also searchable, unlike TIFF. PDF/A was created based on PDF but specifically with archiving in mind. Its sole purpose is to ensure that archived content will be readable over time for whomever, whenever.  PDF/A is a stricter version of PDF. All the information needed for display is self-contained in the file, which ensures that it will maintain its integrity in the future. Information that relies on external sources, such as hyperlinks, can not be included in a PDF/A. This format is beneficial in litigation cases, because it fulfills the requirement to produce and share untouched original documents. 

Option 2:  Integrate a Viewer and Eliminate the Conversion Process

Although conversion is the more familiar solution, there is another option –you can integrate a Document and Image Viewer with your RIM system.  There are several options on the market that give you the ability to select either a client-only, client/server option, or a Zero Footprint viewing option.   Each offers a solution that could eliminate the costly and time consuming need to permanently convert your files.  The latest trend in viewers is a Zero Footprint viewing solution. 

The Zero Footprint viewer is a perfect solution for RIM because it easily enables remote viewing capabilities for distributed users.  Because this viewer operates in any web browser it eliminates the need to download any applications to the desktop.  This is critical when you have no control over the end users’ desktop environment but need to give them access to documents and images.  Some Zero Footprint viewers automatically convert documents and images on-the-fly from their native format to a temporary PNG or JPEG for high-speed viewing over the web. This is especially valuable for remote viewing, because it enables users to retrieve archived files quickly and deliver content quickly without restrictions to viewing.

Whatever decisions you make when contemplating the best ways to keep your systems working efficiently, remember that the rising tide of compliance regulations is not receding. It is calling on you to shore up your ECM and RIM systems. The right viewing and conversion technology will enable you to archive content safely, access it quickly, and deliver it on demand.  This will not only prepare you for compliance, but will also expedite document processing through the lifecycle. When the ECM and RIM waters are navigated well, this rising tide could support both systems and enhance the speed and efficiency of your overall document lifecycle.

Additional Resources:

The Value of Zero

Squeeze more efficiency and ROI from your Content Management System – High-speed viewing can help

VirtualViewer Zero Footprint Viewer

Document and Image Conversion Considerations