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Introduction

Many organizations are taking advantage of new technologies to conduct an increasing amount of their business electronically over networks. Many are implementing technologies such as electronic data interchange (EDI), digital imaging, geographic information systems (GIS) and groupware to support paperless transactions. These technological changes are having a substantial impact on organizational abilities to create, manage and use records to support legal responsibilities and business needs.

Organizations often lack adequate tools to manage the growing number and variety of electronic records. Some are in danger of losing access to records stored in personal computers, e-mail boxes or personal local area network (LAN) directories. Others face the problem of linking documents created in different forms and formats to business transactions. Many organizations are finding that their electronic records do not meet their organization's evidentiary needs.

From an archival perspective, which focuses on long-term societal and organizational needs, this means that electronic records of enduring value may be lost. Perhaps more importantly, organizations are finding that their electronic records are not sufficient to support the ongoing needs of business processes. In many cases, redundant paper systems must be maintained or substantial additional resources must be expended in order to address records management requirements after information systems have been implemented. Electronic records management requirements must therefore be addressed at the system design stage and not after-the-fact, as an isolated additional activity. Therefore, organizations need immediate and specific solutions and tools that will help them integrate electronic records management requirements into their applications and business processes.