As South Africa’s economy evolves, more and more emphasis will be put on local businesses to effectively manage and store massive volumes of electronic information, in order to compete both locally and internationally.

This is according to Bob Eedes, GM of information solutions at Metrofile – the JSE listed information and records management businesses – who cites recent statistics by research firm, TowerGroup, revealing that in 2011 businesses globally will create and manage over 7,5-billion electronic documents.
Eedes advises local companies to consider incorporating electronic document and records management systems (ERMS) into business process management flows to best manage increasing amounts of electronic records.
“As electronic documents have become integral to daily business operations, the ineffective management of these records can have a multitude of negative consequences, such as a loss of productivity, efficiency and profitability.”
He says it is vital that organisations understand that electronic records are assets to the organisation, not the individual, and as such need to be managed under strict records management policies and the supervision of an accountable records management officer.
“The incorporation of ERMS and strict governing policies provides structure, consistency, security and greater control over electronic company records.”
According to Eedes, efficiency is a major advantage of ERMS, resulting in real bottom line savings and improved customer service.
“Records stored using ERMS are accessible at the click of a button, and when hosted in a cloud-based system, are easily accessible over the Internet, which makes sharing of electronic records between employees simple."
Eedes says that currently all SA businesses have to comply with various requirements, and ERMS can also play a role in ensuring that businesses are compliant with legislation, regulations, policies, standards and best practices.
He says that ERMS are especially effective for organisations handling high volumes of electronic documents.
“ERMS systems are accessible by multiple users at the same time, cutting down the access time in traditional sequential paper based systems.”
Eedes says while there are strong international players in the ERMS market, such as Microsoft, Alfresco and Global360, the South African market is well catered for in terms of locally-developed ERMS solutions and there are the significant advantages of local support, development with bandwidth limitations in mind and highly competitive rand-based pricing.
He advises that consulting with a records management specialist whom has an extensive understanding of the process and lifecycle of electronic records will ensure a smooth transition to an ERMS.
“Records are currently created in a number of different formats, through multiple channels and are often part electronic and part paper. It is crucial that companies first define the policies and rules regarding how ERMS should be implemented and managed. Additionally, companies should focus on quick win processes first to gain an immediate return and positive adoption of the new system and process.
“In today’s highly competitive digital world, where the creation and management of electronic data shows no signs of abating, investing in the right ERMS solution will provide an effective platform for companies to meet and sustain its business needs and goals,” concludes Eedes.