Archiving documents is an essential final step in the document lifecycle management. As a definition, archiving is the process of moving documents no longer needed and place them in a secure place for long term retention.
In the digital world, all organizations need to start archiving documents for different purposes such as governmental laws, legal requirements, or simply the documents are not needed in the time being. Keeping them available all the time consumes lots of resources i.e. storage, man power etc. in addition to a loss in employees productivity as they need to keep on maintaining the data even though they are not being accessed on a regular basis.
For example in the construction industry and as per contract, the construction company needs to keep the project related information available even if the project is completed. Usually organizations need to keep the data secure and available for a minimum of 7 years to ensure compliance with internal and external audits. Without an archiving module in your ECM solution or Document Management System, your organization will have to keep the contract with the ECM company alive for as long as needed thus spending money in a non effective manner.
If your organization is planning to archive documents, you need to make sure that the solution you will be using supports a well designed archiving module. Let’s check below the characteristics you should make sure it is available
Archiving Documents Module Characteristics
In my personal opinion, the ability to access archived documents should be implemented in a stand alone tool and part of the ECM solution suite to be used in case there was a need to locate an archived document.
The tool should allow certain users to perform read only operations on the documents such as search, check metadata, and download the attachments.
Search Archived Documents
The tool should provide simple yet intuitive user interface to allow users to easily search for a specific document. By default, the result will display the active version of the document however users can select to return all versions of the document. We should not forget that the search should be performed on the document metadata and on the content of the attachments (Full Text Search)
Users should be able at any point of time to view the full metadata to a certain document. When the document is retrieved, in a simple operation the user should have read only access to the document metadata including all the properties plus the hierarchy.
It is an added value if the tool also can give the users the ability to browse the virtual hierarchy created as some prefer to locate documents based on their location instead of their metadata.
Document Attachments Download
The most important aspect of a document is the uploaded attachment thus allowing to download and view the attachment of an archived document is a must.
Digital documents should be archived on the premises in a server that you own or if you prefer a cloud based one. Access to documents should be limited, secured, and monitored against potential cybersecurity threats.