ERDF, Document Retention and the use of Electronic Records

In the twenty first century, at the completion of one ERDF project I managed we archived over 80 lever-arch files in 23 large boxes. The boxes were placed on metal shelves in a storage room for the next twenty years or more. We had to book a lorry to move them. It really was like the closing scene from the film Raiders of the Lost Ark. Only, apparently the director used special effects to save money.

In the 1970s I studied computers for my first degree and we used what was called a mini computer which lined a wall. We needed a false floor for all the cable connections and ventilation to remove the heat. It had a name, the PDP-8.

Today, anyone’s smart phone has more capacity and memory than did our dear old mini computer.

But also today, we still archive boxes of paper for ERDF projects in a way that is only slightly more modern than the Dead Sea Scrolls. Or rather, the public sector does.

In the private sector, especially in larger firms, ECM (enterprise content management) is key to business efficiency. When you phone the company, all your records are on screen. Your company is invoiced electronically, which is accepted by the tax authorities. The handwritten coupons have been optically scanned into computer files, thousands at a time. The recruitment agency scans paper and electronic CVs with software which automatically recognises phone numbers, address, job titles, names of previous employers. Untouched by human hand. Deliveries are tracked with barcodes, inventories are real-time and warehouses are replaced by just in time ordering.

In the public sector … we have email. And some marketing people are allowed on Twitter. Oh, so modern.

We also, dare I say it, have some officials who seem only to trust an A4 sheet of paper. Not wishing to be unkind, but I sometimes wonder about the conversations they might have with younger family members. "So, you can do updates on a website like Facebook using your phone while on a bus?" "Yes Pops, like, everyone does," and eyes roll.

So, just for the fun of it, you may be interested in a short paper I have written on ERDF and electronic records. Working group to consider in 2032.

Private sector – please click below to download.

Public sector – please send a large, stamped, self-addressed envelope to …

ERDF and Electronic Documents, Discussion Note (Tony Baldwinson, 2013).doc

Background Links

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterprise_content_management

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_preservation

Usual disclaimers

I am currently on contract to DCLG on ERDF Compliance, and nothing in this blog or post represents official policy, just my personal views.

This blog and post are in the interests of general and professional discussion and nothing constitutes particular advice for any project or person.

ERDF and Electronic Documents, Discussion Note (Tony Baldwinson, 2013).doc

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