Managing Electronic Documents as Evidence
Traditional document management techniques have
been addressed largely at the management of paper documents. It is now
time for these techniques to be extended to the management of electronic
documents, otherwise we risk the loss of valuable corporate memory
through the inaccessibility or inadvertent destruction of valuable
This is not a new problem. The need for evidence
has been around for a long time. What is changing is the way we keep the
evidence. More and more, the proof is moving from traditional paper
documents to electronic media. This poses problems because traditional
document management disciplines that have been applied to paper
documents are not necessarily being applied to electronic documents.
This can result in:
confusion between different versions of a document (e.g.
because there may be multiple copies, none of which is the authoritative
loss or destruction of documents that should be kept (e.g.
because there is no central repository analogous to the paper file
repository, and the author is unaware of the need for retention)
questionable authenticity, because of possible
manipulation of text in electronic documents
loss of context of documents (e.g. because related
documents are not linked or kept together)
documents becoming inaccessible because of technological
change (e.g. changes in software or storage media make the files
These problems are part of an on-going challenge
for CDMR to find better ways for managing electronic documents, while
taking advantage of the very real advantages offered by technology.