Understanding the challenges of digital records management

King’s College London has invested over £10 million in the last 4 years to align its technological and information infrastructure with the objectives outlined in the 10 year Strategic Plan 2006-2016. This included replacing legacy IT infrastructure with robust systems that support staff and student mobility and flexible working across a number of campuses, 24/7 access to resources and services and substantially improved reliability and security including re-providing storage.

 The Information Management team has sought to add value to these initiatives through hands on support at the desk top, and close working with the Enterprise Applications team on lifecycle management as well as with Research Ethics, Research Grants and some academic schools.

 Full implementation of life cycle management, however, remains a challenge. Despite the vast majority of College records being created digitally many staff still prefer to rely on hard copy as the record of choice alongside the digital record whether on shared drives, emails or embedded in enterprise systems such as SITS for student data. Investment in archiving of core information in enterprise systems is also rarely prioritised by business systems owners  and where enterprise systems do not meet all user requirements, parallel databases are created. At the same time physical stores are close to capacity, and the College is looking to reduce its overhead on space, (stores and offices) at a time of rising costs and the uncertainties around the impact of the new fees environment.

What we significantly lack is a persuasive case and cost of digital storage versus hard copy across the life cycle use of information, and evidence of the business impact of the proliferation of parallel systems. We also recognise that a number of the barriers to do with electronic storage are to do with the mindset of some staff. They can be afraid to let go of paper records, and there are particular anxieties around access in the future, compatibility, and a history of local power failures. There is also a lack of skills within professional services to undertake technical aspects of information management at the desktop and in the mobile environment.

The Transform project will build on previous work utilising JISC tools including the Records Disposition Schedule (King’s was the first to implement the original version), the Impact Calculator (tested in 2010 with Estates Records) and also reference work established in the “What is a Student Record?” project of 2003. Notably building on the first two of these, it will seek to embed retention and disposition scheduling in enterprise systems and utilise the Impact Calculator to support decisions on prioritisation of storage, (hard copy and electronic) and training.

In addition to the above resources, we will draw upon the following for use during this project:

  •  JISC Strategic ICT Toolkit
  • JISC Enterprise Architecture Early Adopter Study
  • Case studies from Impact Calculator Pilot
  • Data Asset Framework methodology to define the content of each record type.


This is the blog for a new project at King’s College London funded by JISC under their Tranformations Programme. 

Starting in November 2011, This project will address the change issues around moving from managing paper to digital records and identify JISC resources to support this

More information once the project is up and running