Fifth Annual Meeting of the
The fifth annual meeting of the Corporate Archives Forum was held June 6-7, 2002 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Coca-Cola Archives hosted the meeting. The following individuals were present:
David Carmicheal, Director of the Georgia Department for Archives and History, attended part of the meeting as the guest of the group.
Two staff members from Coca-Cola also attended the meeting: Ted Ryan and Sheri Jackson.
Greg Hunter of Long Island University served as facilitator and note-taker.
To protect confidentiality, these meeting notes do not attribute comments to any attendee or company. The attendees are sharing these notes with the wider archival community in the hopes of furthering the discussion of issues.
This year’s meeting covered the following topics:
Attendees gave the following brief updates on activities during the past year:
Several attendees worked with the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) on a "power brands" campaign. This included a major exhibit on the "heritage of brands."
Several people also talked about an influential book in their corporations, From Good to Great by Jim Collins. He is the also the author of Built to Last.
There also were comments that the outsourcing of information centers is a "creeping virus" in corporate America. This is worrisome for the future of corporate archives.
Trends in litigation already being experienced are suits for reparations for slavery and suits for alleged exposure to asbestos while working in factories and office buildings.
Content Management: Theory and Practice
One of the problems with "content management" is that there are several definitions of it. One working definition is "applying life cycle management to Web content." This is a very hot topic at the moment.
There also are differences in defining other terms: content, record, document, and publishing.
One archives is providing input into the corporation’s "content management strategy." They also are working on a "digital preservation strategy." When they have these problems solved, next they will address world hunger!
A second company has no corporate-wide standard for document management. They are thinking of content management as dealing with the Internet/Intranet. They are using Adobe Acrobat to capture and store Web content manually.
Another company is exploring using Stellant for content management. It used to be a text system.
How is content management different than digital asset management? One company has identified 3 types of assets: still images, moving images, and documents. They are taking a narrow view of the content to manage. In the future, they would like the archives’ system to become the company standard for content management.
Most attorneys have not been brought into discussions about capturing e-commerce transactions. Lawyers review static Web content but are not involved after this.
Early Web efforts were decentralized. E-commerce has led to a need for more centralization. We are moving beyond Mickey Rooney’s spur-of-the-moment solution in the movies: "let’s put on a show."
Information Technology departments don’t know about information management tools: taxonomy, controlled vocabulary, classification, indexing, etc. These are needed to run a content management system effectively. In particular, a controlled vocabulary is essential, but no one wants to develop it.
IT always counted on "full text searching" – the day of reckoning is coming.
"Autonomy" is an automatic taxonomy tool. However, it still requires a human element.
One corporation has several groups working on taxonomies. The culture in this corporation is to try to solve problems on your own within your group.
A major problem is names and products that no longer are current. The archives has to maintain this information in the taxonomy.
Two corporations are using Documentum. The archives in these corporations are trying to influence the taxonomy and metadata that Documentum uses.
Content management is sellable. The Web is out of control. There is a danger when systems change and content is lost. There are all kinds of records being "spawned" on the Internet, through new categories of collaborative software. One company has design documents maintained by an originating department, a collection they maintain is larger than the entire World Wide Web.
Content management may just be "knowledge management renamed." KM took off in Germany and is still very popular there.
One corporation has a policy that if there is no identified owner of the Web content, and the content has not been updated in a year, it is removed from the Web.
Content management needs to be on everyone’s horizon. It is important for the archivist to talk to Information Technology department. This is really just another way to create and manage electronic records. It is better for the archivist to be in on the ground level.
In one company, the culture is such that they only worry about records when it’s time to box them up. Another company has found it useful to adopt a risk management approach to Internet content.
There is a related challenge. Information technology functions are being outsourced in many corporations. This makes it more difficult to build partnerships than when IT was internal. It is harder to get IT’s attention, especially is the Web Services Team has been outsourced.
In some corporations, the archivists have noticed a shift from trying to make money from archival "assets." There is less stress on "re-purposing assets" and more stress on "don’t be sued."
In one company, the Web Development Team now is part of the Systems Team. They are trying to develop a taxonomy for naming pages. The titles/topics keep mutating, making it difficult to get a handle on them.
Using Interwoven to Identify and Retain Web Content
One archivist discussed the use of Interwoven for Web content management. "Teamsite" is Interwoven’s content management product.
In this corporation, FileNet is used for document management. The company established a "Web Records Task Force" a year ago. In this corporate environment, there are legal and regulatory requirements for Web records. To an archivist, 7 years may not seem like a long retention; to an IT department, it is an eternity.
In 2000 they bought a portal system called "Infoimage." The archives was not involved in the vendor selection, but is part of the implementation team. Infoimage is not good at capturing records – they needed to back up the entire site to meet regulatory requirements. If they need to view a record, they will need to restore the entire site.
The archivist learned important lessons from this: you need a place at the table and you need to build an awareness of Web records.
Based upon this experience, the company decided to implement Teamsite. Now Teamsite is the backbone of their Web presence. It is a development tool for building sites as well as a repository for content. It controls the workflow from design to publication.
With Teamsite, developers create templates so that "content authors" can create pages. The template (designer) and content (author) are combined in Active Server Pages. A Teamsite page is composed of:
Teamsite has a "work area" that contains a virtual copy of the Web. This permits people to work on the Website simultaneously. There also is a "staging area" so that IT can look at the work before posting it. The published Website is called an "edition."
"Versioning" is not the same as content management. Interwoven deletes the old record; it does not keep it as a previous version. Teamsite overwrites the old DCRs. The archivist has to capture and store old documents before overwriting them.
FileNet provides security and real versioning. The archivist encourages people to send documents to the FileNet system first and then pull content for the Web. But this does not always meet the regulatory requirement for retaining what was presented to the customer/client.
The following is their strategy for capturing Web content:
They test the records regularly to see if they can restore both individual records and the entire site. They also have preserved documentation for the processes for review by regulatory agencies.
Another corporate archives uses Adobe Acrobat for making snapshots of Web sites on a regular basis.
Enterprise Solutions to Archives and Records Management: The State Government Context
David Carmicheal, Director of the Georgia Department for Archives and History, joined the group to discuss similarities and differences between corporate archives and government archives.
David discussed some of the ways that corporate archives and government archives are similar:
What are the potential responses to the complexity of the current situation? There are at least four strategies:
A Media Asset Management System
One company is implementing a digital asset management system to take resources used most frequently and make them more accessible. Implementation started 3 years ago. At present the system contains 5,000 videos, 13,000 images, and 10,000 documents.
There currently are 4,800 registered users of the system. This is 1/6th of all the employees in the corporation.
As part of the system, they are capturing 75 fields of metadata. They are able to add talent information into the system, which is very useful in securing permission for reuse.
They have determined that the cost of cataloging and creating metadata is $14 per video.
Registered users can order images on-line from a third-party contractor. This contractor also does the initial scanning of the images, including a high-resolution scan.
Using Plumtree for Web Portals
A portal is defined as a simple access point to disparate, voluminous information and the applications that process it.
Plumtree has a feature called "gadgets." These are special tools that individuals can choose to add to their sites.
The Information Technology Department did not clarify everything before implementing a corporate portal. For example, the login procedure required 3 separate logins. Any hurdle hurts the level of use.
There also is a larger control issue. Over 70 entities act independently when posting content. The archivist had hoped that IT would bring some order to this as part of the portal initiative.
The site search function associated with the portal was an improvement. General metadata now is input for all Web resources, but there is no controlled vocabulary. IT now is looking at developing a taxonomy for metadata. One attendee noted that in other corporations, the archives already is leading the effort to develop a taxonomy.
In this company, the policy is not to publish company-confidential materials on the Intranet. Going to a simple login will improve security throughout the company.
The archives sees potential in the portal concept. The archives can prepare content and reach the entire Intranet community. This can be a way to "virtualize" the information center. They might do this by using Plumtree’s gadgets.
The archives maintains a feature called "Expert Net," a listing of experts in various topical areas. Another archivist noted that in his/her corporation, people don’t want to be part of the expert database – they don’t want to be called by everyone in the company.
There are a number of challenges still facing the company and the archives:
Building Partnerships and Cultivating Champions
A common theme throughout the meeting has been the need to develop both executive champions and business partners.
One company is examining its corporate culture. The archives offered to help in this effort.
Another company tries to get champions by pushing the information out. They don’t wait for people to come to them. They have concluded that they almost need a full-time historian to write articles.
A third archivist stated that the point is to be proactive. No one asked the archives to develop a digital asset management system. You also cannot just do one thing and stop – you have to keep building awareness. Technical people, in particular, like to be thought of as looking ahead. The archivist must show that I\we can be both forward thinking and build upon our heritage.
Cable television constantly needs content. One archivist tries to promote properties from the collection and repackage them. This involve being strategic as well as proactive.
One archivist recently acquired a high-level executive champion. This has made a huge difference in getting funding and opening doors. But this also makes the archivist nervous – what happens after the executive champion retires? If you’re too closely identified with that person, it may result in political repercussions after that person leaves.
How do you plan for finding another executive champion? You need to start making connections to other executives across the corporation.
With such big initiatives as enterprise-wide electronic records management, you absolutely have to build partnerships. But this is a challenge with constant turnover in the IT area.
One company experienced an IT budget crunch at a crucial time in the development of a new system. The archivist traded off reduced fees for the system in exchange for speaking at some of the software vendor’s conferences.
We need to remember what’s in it for the partners. We need to sell the partners on why they should participate. You can’t succeed unless you understand company politics.
Sometimes patience is important, especially with people who are obstacles. We may need to find work-arounds until people leave.
The hardest part is deciding where to be strategic. Our time is limited.
Should we also consider partnerships not to build? There are people who will ask the archives to do things outside of the archives’ strategic focus. A couple of attendees noted problems with facilities people and exhibit coordinators.
Appraising, Accessioning, and Preparing to Process Electronic Records
Managing electronic records is such a challenge because of the speed with which the technology changes. Could we handle audiovisual records if the format and media changed as rapidly? Probably not.
Appraising and accessioning electronic records involves four steps:
There are several approaches to capturing Web content:
A second corporation has been building its electronic records strategy for a couple of years. The strategy involves the following components:
The archives has identified a number of challenges in the management of electronic records:
Another attendee noted that there are vendors that manage e-mail archiving. This is a large market especially for regulated environments like financial services.
Recording and Reporting Reference Statistics
The attendees had a roundtable discussion about the ways that they record and report reference statistics. Among the main points raised were:
Informal Salary Survey
The group asked Greg to coordinate an informal, anonymous, salary survey. The purpose was to develop information for benchmarking purposes. Salary information, especially from corporations, is almost impossible to get from professional sources.
Participants shared with Greg the salaries of the Archives Manager and the Senior Archivist. The results were:
Page Updated May 14, 2003