You may not have heard the term very often, but we are nevertheless on the cusp of a new era: the era of mobile records management.
What is mobile records management? At TAB, we define mobile records management as a set of activities, including accessing tracking, organizing and managing information, that are carried out using mobile devices.
This new era is being ushered in with the help of mobile-enabled records management software that leverages the computing power of devices such as smart phones and tablet computers. For example, the latest release of TAB FusionRMS allows users to conduct a number of records-management tasks on a mobile app that can be installed on any iOS or Android device.
It’s not just about mobile document access
Until now, if your organization had deployed a records management software solution, the most you could usually hope for was a mobile app that allowed you to access documents remotely. While this is a very helpful feature, it doesn’t qualify as true mobile records management.
To demonstrate the meaning of the term, we will explore a few of the ways that organizations are using tools such as the FusionRMS mobile app to carry-out records management activities anywhere, any time.
Examples of mobile records and information management
Documenting file transfers
In many industries, physical records change hands away from office environments and far away from a computer workstation. For example, in the energy industry, files related to oil wells frequently change hands on the site of the oil well itself. Land files and well files are vitally important documents, so it is essential to capture an accurate chain-of-custody as the files change hands. These kinds of transactions are also commonplace in law firms, accounting firms, manufacturing facilities and architect and design studios.
Normally, documenting such transfers relies on one of the employees to log in to the organization’s records management software when they return to the office. In practice, this often does not happen. The employee either forgets, or the task gets lost among bigger priorities when the employee returns to the office.
In the era of mobile records management, the same employees can quickly document transfers in real time, wherever they happen to be, using their preferred mobile devices.
Remote asset discovery and management
Not every asset tracked by the records management software system will be physically within reach of a workstation or a barcode scanner. For example, you may be storing boxes in an offsite location, or you may have a file room in a remote corner of your company headquarters. In these cases, if you want to learn more about the contents of a box or folder, your only option would be to physically bring the item to a barcode-enabled workstation, or to write down the barcode number and look it up when you get back to your office. Neither of these are convenient options.
In the era of mobile records management, you have greater flexibility to work how you want, where you want. In these situations, you can simply take a photo of the barcode using your own mobile phone or tablet computer and instantly retrieve all the information about the box or file. This comes in particularly handy when you discover a misplaced file and quickly need to know who had it last or where it should be re-filed.
In many organizations, staff need to put in a request for a physical record when it is required as part of a business process. For example, in a banking environment, a branch staff member might need to look at the original copy of mortgage application. If that bank uses a centralized records storage facility, the required document could be tucked away deep within the mortgage vault.
If the staff member is at the branch and next to a computer workstation, they can easily log in and request the delivery of the file. But what if they are not? What if they only remembered that they need the file while on the streetcar or train home? This is where a mobile-enabled records management solution comes to the rescue, allowing staff to log in from their smart phone to request the files.
Why mobile records management matters
These are just a few of examples of how organizations are carrying out records management activities using mobile-enabled software tools.
Do these emerging technologies and example scenarios merit the use of the phrase, “a new era in mobile records management”? The point could be debated, but what is clear is that mobile-enabled solutions have changed the game in most business environment in which they have been deployed, and the situation in records management should be no different.
Already, one of the immediate changes brought about by mobile-enabled solutions is that staff are empowered to participate and comply with your records management program. When a member of staff can pull out their own mobile phone to quickly document a file transfer, they are much more likely to comply on a consistent basis.
As more organizations adopt mobile-enabled solutions, we also believe that they will find more and more ways for these solutions to add value to their business processes and RIM activities. Mobile records management is definitely an evolving area to keep our eyes on.