Enterprise Content Management and the Records Continuum Model as strategies for long-term preservation of digital information

Publication Date25 November 2013
AuthorProscovia Svärd
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Information management & governance
Enterprise Content Management
and the Records Continuum
Model as strategies for long-term
preservation of digital
Proscovia Sva
Faculty of Humanities, University of Amsterdam,
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Purpose – The purpose of the paper is to establish whether Enterprise Content Management (ECM)
and Records Continuum Model (RCM) frameworks could be used to mitigate long-term preservation
Design/methodology/approach – Qualitative research was undertaken using two case studies and
interviews were conducted with the different categories of the municipal personnel to solicit answers
to the research questions. The questions were designed using the lens of the RCM and its four
dimensions that cover the creation, capture, organization and pluralization of records and prescribed
factors of ECM which include business process management, enterprise architecture, collaboration,
system integration, re-purposing of information, change management, knowledge management and
the life cycle management of information. Not all the ECM factors are dealt with in this paper: the
remainder have been dealt with in the author’s earlier works.
Findings – Challenges of long-term preservation of information still persist despite the enormous
research that has been generated over the years. The municipalities that were subjects of this research
are still grappling with issues of lack of long-term information management policies, enterprise
architecture, disparate information systems, collaboration and system integration. This is likely to
work against the investments that are being ploughed into e-Government developments should the
municipalities fail to espouse strong information and records management regimes. Embracing the
ECM prescribed factors and the RCM thinking might mitigate these challenges.
Originality/value – The author’s licentiate research proved that there was no discourse between
records managers/archivists and ECM proponents. Therefore, the originality of this article lies in the
application of the two frameworks of ECM and RCM. The findings confirmed that even within the
records management framework the municipalities were addressing factors similar to ECM prescribed
factors. Embracing both the RCM model and the ECM prescribed factors might mitigate the challenges
of long-term preservation and hence the re-use of information and enhancement of the societal
Keywords E-government,Information management, Recordsmanagement,
Enterprise contentmanagement, Long-term preservation
Paper type Research paper
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
The author would like to acknowledge the financial assistance received from the European
Union Objective 2 funding for this project within the Centrum fo
¨r Digital
¨rvaltning (CEDIF). She would also like to express her appreciation of the
support received from the participants in both municipalities.
ECM and the
RCM as
Received 31 December 2012
Revised 1 August 2013
Accepted 6 August 2013
Records Management Journal
Vol. 23 No. 3, 2013
pp. 159-176
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/RMJ-12-2012-0035
1. Introduction
Issues of long-term preservation have been discussed by researchers for over 20 years.
This body of research has focused on the broader perspectives of long-term
preservation of digital information such as technology obsolescence, standards, the
integrity and authenticity of the digital records, formats, metadata, preservation of the
context of digital records and provenance to mention but a few (Bearman, 1994; Dollar,
2000; Gladney, 2007; Duranti and Preston, 2008). Long-term preservation was defined
by Factor et al. (2009, p. 1) as “the set of processes, strategies and tools used to store
and access digital data for long periods of time during which technologies, formats,
hardware, software and technical communities are very likely to change.” However,
despite the challenges posed by hardware and software obsolescence and changes in
formats, organizations are reliant on electronic information systems for the effective
management of their information resources.
However, electronic information systems do not only promote efficiency but they
also pose challenges of long-term preservation of information. Technology
obsolescence poses challenges that wi ll obliterate institutional memories an d
information resources if proper information planning is not undertaken,
(Rothenberg, 1999; Dollar, 2000; Sturges, 2006; Gladney, 2007). Runardotter et al.
(2007)) argued that despite technology and better information storage, societal
information has become less accessible today. The focus on the management of current
information however, hinders the attention that should be paid to long-term
preservation challenges. Organizations therefore need a combination of tools, policies
and procedures to manage information/records for long term (Hoke, 2012).
Stawowczyk (2009) argued that many institutions use short-term solutions that
concentrate on improving storage and access to their archives but lack long-term
preservation planning. While Hackett (2008, p. 18) was of the view that organisations
were reluctant to engage in authentic long-term preservation because of the complex
nature of the materials to be preserved which include integrated media, multiple
creators of content, interactivity and the huge quantities of content.
Despite advancements in technology and the existing body of knowledge and
research, long-term preservation of digital information still poses enormous challenges
and therefore requires a holistic and proactive approach. Organisations should have
full control of all their information resources and need to plan for the entire
information/records continuum.
Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is proposed by its proponents as the
panacea to the management of an organization’s entire information resources (Glazer
et al., 2005; MacMillan and Huff, 2009). ECM is a relatively new information
management approach which has mostly received the attention of information systems
scientists. ECM is defined as “the technologies used to capture, manage, store,
preserve, and deliver content and documents related to organizational processes. ECM
tools and strategies allow the management of an organization’s unstructured
information, wherever that information exists” (MacMillan and Huff, 2009, p. 4). It is
looked on as a strategy or initiative that organisations undertake to promote a culture
of information sharing and collaboration. ECM is therefore defined as a strategy,
initiative or system (Glazer et al., 2005, MacMillan and Huff, 2009). It focuses on
unstructured content which includes documents, web pages, reports, audio files, video
clips, project spaces, shared disk drives, and desktops (Reimer, 2002, Feldman and

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