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Product Overview

All businesses need a way to manage the lifecycle of their documents. TEAM AutoRecords is a fully customizable enterprise records management solution which provides tools to automatically apply retention to content and automatically execute disposition instructions with little to no user intervention.

Records Management#

Records Management historically has been about preservation of documents as "records" for some prescribed period of time to insure that paper documents were kept for periods of time prescribed by law and then destroyed appropriately. The Records Management industry was shaped early on by the need to deal with paper records, their storage, retrieval and proper destruction. A paper document or any object that is retained is called a "record." The "period" that a record is retained is based on the categorization of the record. For example, most organizations in the U.S. are required to keep invoices for seven years, so all invoice records are categorized together and must be kept for 7 years from the date of the invoice. Most organizations have a combination of electronic records and physical records. Electronic records are "files" on a computer system, such as a PDF copy of an Invoice or a scanned copy of a Warranty Card. Physical Records are things such as boxes of paper invoices, microfiche, CD's, DVD, tape backups, etc. Modern records management must be able to handle both physical and electronic records.

The goal of any ERMS is to insure that "records" are kept as long as needed, handled appropriately and ultimately disposed of at the proper time.

AutoRecords Concepts#

AutoRecords is an Enterprise Records Mangement System (ERMS) which runs within M-Files. autoRecords provides capabilities to apply records management and retention over objects on the M-Files system automatically. The flexibility of M-Files means that the M-Files objects can be electronic documents such as a PDF, Word Document, etc. or they can be an electronic representations of physical objects such as a box of invoices.

autoRecords uses autoClassification rules to automatically apply a Retention Category to an M-Files object. Based on that Retention Category, Events are created for the object on the system. Events are designed to represent a records management concept of "After some triggering event, wait some period of time and the perform some action." For example "after an invoice is created, wait seven years and then destroy the invoice." autoRecords evaluates each object on the system to determine if the trigger criteria has been met. Once the conditions are met, the associated Event is updated with an Event Date based on the period of time to wait. For example, we may have invoices and we want to keep all invoices 7 years after they've been sent. So when an invoice is created on the system an Event will also be created, but the Event won't have a scheduled date until something in the system tells autoRecords that the Invoice has been sent, such as a status is changed to Sent. At that time, autoRecords evaluates the period to wait and schedules the Event for seven years from the time the invoice was sent.

Importantly, autoRecords fully supports the concept of a Hold which will prevent the Event from being executed.

This diagram shows at a high level how autoRecords objects are leveraged.

AutoRecords Flowchart

There are several important constructs utilized by autoRecords in order to meet the complex demands of an ERMS. This is a short list of the constructs that autoRecords uses to manage records and retention across M-Files.

  • Retention Category - The main object used by autoRecords. Retention Categories get assigned to objects in M-Files and determine how the object life-cycle is managed. A Retention Category contains labels and descriptions for the category as well as linking the category to Event Templates which will perform actions such as disposing of the records. Additionally the Retention Category can have metadata properties added to it if needed to link it to the "File Plan" so Retention Categories can be arranged using M-Files Views and restricted based on Permissions.
  • Indirect Retention Category - AutoRecords has the unique ability to leverage M-Files relationships and establish parent/child retention. An Indirect Retention Category indicates that an object is inheriting retention from some parent object.
  • Events - Events are objects created on the M-Files system to schedule an action for a document or documents at some point in the future. Events are created even if the scheduled date for disposition cannot yet be calculated because Trigger conditions have not yet been met.
  • Event Template(s) - One or more Event Template is assigned to each Retention Category to determine what will happen to any M-Files object which references the Retention Category. AutoRecords uses information in the Event Template to create and schedule records management Events on the system which ultimately perform some action against the M-Files object.
  • Trigger(s) - Define the property-based conditions on which an Event fires. There are several types of triggers that allow autoRecords to work based on metadata conditions, date conditions and file versions.
  • Periods - Define the length of time after a Trigger condition is met, to wait before performing an Action.
  • Actions - Actions are objects created on the M-Files system when an Event's scheduled date has been met. The Action is created based on an Action Template assigned to the Event.
  • Action Templates - Action Templates are used to associate an M-Files workflow to an autoRecords Action. When a scheduled Event is executed, autoRecords uses information in the Action Template to create a distinct instance of the Action and attach it to the "record" object. The workflow associated to the Action then performs some work such as Delete or Notify.
  • Action Workflows - Pre-built workflows that perform "Actions" for autoRecords. Pre-built workflows come with Auto-Records and handle most records management needs. New workflows may be created for nearly any imaginable use case.
  • Holds - Prevent a scheduled Event from being executed. A Hold is assigned to any record where disposition must temporarily be suspended.
  • AutoClassification Rules - AutoClassification rules assign Retention Categories to content automatically based on the class and/or metadata associated to the content.

The Records Management Guide for AutoRecords delves further into configuring these constructs.