Understand all the metada
If you dock KORTO to a professional document management system such as Microsoft SharePoint, KORTO will take over and understand all the metadata which those documents have in SharePoint, and will convert them to record classifications in KORTO. It will then use AI to find even more classifications within the documents.
Wide range integration
For now, KORTO works well with standard file shares, and with Microsoft 365 products Exchange Online (e-mails), SharePoint Online (documents), and Teams (chat messages). Google Mail and Workspace integration will be added soon.
Extensive, open, and secured APIs
It doesn't stop there. Through its extensive, open, and secure APIs, KORTO can easily be integrated with any document management or line of business system. If your system produces documents, and if those documents must automatically be declared as records, KORTO APIs will make that a piece of cake. Really.
Now that I’ve identified the small percentage (and most important) of my company information as records, I need to look at the information that’s left.
It makes me think of the Pareto Principle & the 80/20 Rule. 20% Of my company information holds 80% of the value. Sadly, I still need to clean up and make decisions regarding the 80% that’s left, although it only contributes to 20% of the value. Painful I know, but perhaps if I do this, I can get rid of many boxes and repurpose old storage devices.
This process also helps me to have more empathy for the many cleanup and migration projects I’m involved in. When asking employees which important content to migrate, they’ll respond with “everything please”. When asking employees to cleanup and identify content first before migration you’ll seldom get the same answer. Importance & value definitely changes when linked to effort and the challenge is that the bulk of content created is not what we would consider valuable.
pl. n. (ephemeron, sing.) Materials, usually printed documents, created for a specific, limited purpose, and generally designed to be discarded after use.
Business information with no value
The easiest way for me to determine whether information has value to me, is to ask myself the following: “If I lose that folder with documents or box with files, will it have a negative impact on me and my business?” If the answer is ‘No’, then it truly has no value.
Think of emails not related to your work and duties, newsletters, copies and drafts of documents and informal content created. For me the challenge is, that I do not go back, to cleanup and delete content and this information becomes the majority of the information I hoard.
Business information with value
If I answered ‘Yes’ to the above question, then the information has value to me. Although not considered as records and having limited lifespans, this content adds value, especially for reference and even reusability. Examples for me would be training manuals and videos I create, project related emails, formal communications, budgets, and sales projections.
I hope this has helped you gain a better understanding around the information in your company. The difference between data and information, how to define a record and understanding the value of your ‘non record’ information types.
To analyze, understand and explain any concept, I’ve always reverted to analogies / used conceptual thinking. I love finding similarities in complete opposite concepts and I’m excited to invite you on my storytelling journey of exploring, verifying, and disseminating records management.
The logical start would be to look at information, and if you’re anything like me, you might have thought of “data” automatically, but you’re wrong, and of course, so was I.
Think of data as the raw materials, in a painting process. Frames, canvas, oil paint, brushes, turpentine, a glass jar and rags for cleaning, a palette and easel. Using those raw materials then allow us to create paintings. Now keep in mind, the painting cannot exist without the raw materials used to create it, but those raw materials on their own, still have purpose. In the end though, the painting becomes much more valuable than the total cost of the collection of raw materials.
Now that’s exactly the relationship between data and information, with one exception to my analogy. We are talking actual completed paintings as well as photos and prints of it, videos, written descriptions, brochures, appraisals, and valuations. This means that physical as well as digital data is recognized as information.
Data processed, analyzed, placed in sequence, and or remodeled, and then structured becomes information. The most valuable benefit is that it provides context and if done right, enables decision making.
I often tell my own kids how important it is to keep their things in places where they can find them later. Soemtimes, they get an assignment from a teacher which they just cannot find. They try – they spend a lot of time looking in all their desk drawers, and in the deepest pockets of their school bags – but there are times when they simply can’t find it. Those assignments usually then appear a few weeks later, often under their beds, when they are no longer relevant.
But wait? Relevant?
Yes, information relevancy is as important a concept for school kids as it is for enterprises. If you think it through, it’s not that different at all in either case.
Let’s imagine three documents sitting on our work desk: a bill from a business lunch from the previous week, an employment contract with a new colleague, and articles of incorporation relating to our company. All of them are relevant, but they are obviously relevant at different levels. Still, regardless of their relevancy, they all need to go through the same information lifecycle process, and the same things happen to all three documents – just at a different pace.
1 - Collaboration
When we create articles of incorporation, there will be a lot of collaboration going on. Different partners will want to have different clauses in that document, and various lawyers will insist on amendments. It can take months for articles of incorporation to be completed and signed off. Employee contracts usually take less time to be signed: these mostly involve ready-made templates within the company which can be reused; a few changes might be necessary, and then the employment contract is ready to be signed. That restaurant bill? You just hand it over to the financial department: they might ask you to state who was present at that lunch, but that’s all.
Common to all three documents in this phase is that they are not yet records. They are living information which can still be amended. There is no obligation to retain each version of information during the collaboration phase, and collaboration can take place in all sorts of ways – via email, chat, or video-calls, or during in-person meetings.
2 - Creation and filing
Once the collaboration process is completed, and the information is filed in its final form, that information then becomes business and/or legally relevant. Think of that restaurant bill: while its chances to become legally relevant might not be high (although, not impossible), it is by all means business relevant, at least for the financial department. Articles of incorporation and the employment contract are, on the other hand, very much both legally and business relevant.
Information cannot be amended at this point. You should not be amending a restaurant bill for any reason. The employment contract might get an appendix, or we might receive a new version of articles of association, but those new versions need to be handled separately – our original version needs to stay exactly as it is.
In many cases, we also need to file the accompanying information (metadata): when was the employment contract or article of incorporation has been signed? How long is the duration of the employment contract? Which accompanying information needs to be filed depends heavily on the type of document that we are filing. It will be necessary to retain some of that accompanying information, while other information will be used as a base for…
3 - Retention
…for retention. In some countries, you don’t need to keep that restaurant bill past the current fiscal year. But in Germany, for example, you need to retain it for years. You will want to keep those articles of incorporation for as long as the company exists, and probably even a few years after that. The employment contract needs to be kept a number of years after the employment is terminated, but then it must be disposed of in a provable manner, because it contains an employees’ personal information, which needs to be handled with special care (all documents containing personal info need to be handled with special care!).
The retention period can depend on many different factors – e.g. business requirements, legal requirements – which can vary for different countries, types of information, and so on. Regardless how long the retention period is, we need to prove that the document has been kept in its original form, and we need to be able to present it upon request.
One particularly interesting topic is changing the format of documents during the retention period, but that deserves a separate blog post.
4 – Disposition, destruction, or whatever we want to call it
That restaurant bill? We don’t want to keep it forever, since we are probably going to have many of those, and keeping all of them forever wouldn’t make any sense. We have business reasons to dispose of it. That employment contract, on the other hand? We must dispose of it, since it contains personal info, which we are legally obliged to dispose of after a certain period of time once the contract has been terminated (I will be writing about “triggers” in a separate blog post).
Disposition (destruction!) of records has to be complete, irreversible, and tracked. For example, if we keep records in paper form, those records must be shredded, and you need to keep track of when they were shredded and who shredded them. The same procedure must be followed with electronic records.
With disposition, we stop regarding that piece of information as a record, and our obligation to present that information internally or externally ceases.