This online resource captures current good practice in the area of digital records preservation but it is clear that as we work in this area the technology and institutional practices continue to move on at a pace. This section brings together some of the trends and initiatives we may see in the future.

1. ‘Hands free’ transfer

Though the EDRMS preservation task force has seen a few examples of direct integration between an EDRMS and a digital preservation system, this is still an area for future development. The extent to which transfer between an EDRMS and the digital archive can be fully automated is something to explore in the future and it would be helpful for the digital preservation community to see more case studies of how this might work in practice. Could we see a future in which a document is created and correctly described and classified by the user and that this is ultimately transferred into the archive without any manual intervention from the archivist or records manager? Is this something the community would like to see, or is trust in the technology never going to reach these levels

2. EDRMS as digital archive? (or vice versa)

Instead of aiming for effective integration between a record keeping system and a digital archive, could we have one system that does it all? Some EDRMS providers have been making moves into the digital preservation space, adding in features for ‘archiving’ of records in order to meet the need of customers who do not have digital preservation systems in place. Similarly, providers of digital preservation systems may be providing bespoke features for customers that are more traditionally seen in the records management space. It is conceivable that a supplier will manage to create a combined records management and digital preservation system in the future. One could imagine dragging and dropping records from a records management area to an archive area and seamlessly bypassing some of the challenges and complexities of integration and transfer that are detailed in this online resource. Again, trust in the technology is required in order for the community to embrace these developments. It is advised that practitioners working in this space continue to articulate their particular requirements and ask questions of solution providers about how certain functionality is implemented before making decisions on whether a system meets their needs. 

3. Beyond the EDRMS

Though the EDRMS Preservation Task Force came together specifically to talk about preservation of records from EDRMS, it was clear once we started to scope our work, that records are not exclusively stored in formal EDRM systems. Within many organizations, other systems are being used to manage records and/or documents. It was noted that many organizations are moving away from a structured and controlled EDRMS to systems that are less formally managed. Sharepoint is one such system that falls outside of the tight EDRMS definition but is widely used to store records. Taking this further, Office 365, Microsoft Teams and Google Drive are now becoming widely adopted and in some organizations are replacing the EDRMS. Though it is certainly a challenge to preserve records that sit within a structured and controlled EDRMS, it is perhaps more of a challenge to work with records that reside in a less rigorously controlled system.

Though some of the advice and guidance contained within this resource will be applicable to record keeping systems that are not considered to be EDRMS, it is recognised that the community will face emerging challenges as the preservation of records within these (more loosely controlled) systems become a priority.

Several presentations that have touched on this issue are listed below:

  • Patricia Sleeman, UNHCR touches on the challenges of the preservation of Office365, describing them as “tanks without drivers, rolling away with all our information” - Winners Webinars, 10th December 2020 (DPC members login to view the recording)

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