The City of Portland holds about 3 million physical records (folders) in its Archives and Records Center, many dating back to the early days of its settlement. Since the introduction of computers, it has had to manage a growing volume of digital records.
The City manages more than 2.8 million digital records within Content Manager—with the volume growing by about 20 percent a year. It must now also ensure it can capture messages and documents created and managed in Microsoft Office 365. This adds a layer of complexity because messages and documents (such as Excel, PowerPoint and Word files) held in Office 365 are hosted in the cloud at Microsoft’s data centers, rather than within the City’s own desktops and servers.
One of the biggest challenges for records management teams is to establish workflows that cover every step from the creation of material through to its storage and destruction. The City of Portland in particular must adhere to the strict record retention requirements imposed by its regulations and those of the State of Oregon.
To comply with these requirements, and meet citizens’ desire for ready access to public information, the City required an EDRMS solution that would allow it to accurately identify public records, store, manage, and dispose of or preserve them as part of the Archives.
Since the early 2000s, the City of Portland has had a vision that public information should be readily available to citizens. This was articulated in 2000 as the idea of a 24/7, self-service City Hall. This vision has gradually become more and more feasible with the evolution of the Internet, and data capture and electronic records management tools including Content Manager.
Before the implementation of a centralized and automated records management system, the City of Portland’s legal teams struggled to find documents and other records they required to respond to queries and run court cases.
This issue came to a head for one major bureau, which turned to the City’s Archives and Records Management Division for assistance.
“They came to us because they were frustrated by not being able to find records for their defense,” says Brian Brown, Business Systems Analyst with the Archives and Records Management Division.
“They had a system but it wasn’t well defined and lacked standardization. They really wanted a central repository for these documents that could be indexed and was searchable to quickly produce documents for business use but also for litigation.
The City of Portland implemented Micro Focus Content Manager (then known as TRIM) in 2001 to manage its physical archives, provide online access to City Council documents, and capture critical bureau electronic records. At that time, the City had fewer than 100 licenses for the software and users were primarily within the Archives and Records Management Division and Auditor’s Office divisions, such as the City Council Clerk.
The City has since continued to upgrade to the latest versions of the EDRMS software. It has also greatly increased the number of electronic records captured and held within the system, as well as the number of individuals using the system.
The Archives and Records Management team continues to deploy Content Manager across the City. Staff in every bureau rely on Content Manager to find critical City documents (such as contracts and personnel records), request physical records from the Archives and Records Center, and in more and more cases, use it as the repository for their department’s electronic records.
The City of Portland holds 2,350 ‘seat’ licenses to allow a wide range of its more than 5,000 staff members to use Content Manager. It holds about 3.5 million physical and 2.5 million electronic records, adding up to 5.5 terabytes of data.
“We are using it to apply the same kind of management and access—which includes some public access—to our electronic records and emails that we have historically provided for our paper records,” says Tim Hunt, Records Analyst, Archives and Records Management Division, City of Portland.
This electronic document management approach includes scheduling the destruction of records to comply with retention rules, free up IT resources and reduce legal risk. Around 1.5 million records have been destroyed since the City began tracking its records and related management activities in Content Manager.
According to Hunt, before using Content Manager, the City had little idea what information bureaus and departments held. “We didn’t know what people were doing with their electronic records,” he says. “Maybe they were on shared drives and sitting there forever. Or maybe they were being destroyed before they should be.”