Expanding on Information Governance - Aggregates


Today I would like to broach a new subject on the Collabware Blog, one that I have been thinking about for a long time and now can finally start discussing openly. As an upcoming feature of the next major version of Collabware CLM, Aggregates will be something that must be discussed thoroughly to be fully understood.

What is Aggregates/ Aggregation in Records Management?

This will be the first article on the topic of Aggregates, and we will discuss in more details some of the aspects in later articles.First of all, the term Aggregate specifically comes from the European Records Management standard, MoReq2010. MoReq2010 is the third version of the MoReq standard, which was first created in order to be a more generalized, non-mandatory set of guidelines for the European community than its direct North American counterpart, the DoD 5015.2 standard. MoReq2010 is specifically built around the concept of Aggregates, and Collabware has taken this concept and folded it into our upcoming version. We have tweaked MoReq2010's Aggregates quite a bit, and added a huge amount of functionality in order to make it a flexible tool for information governance.

Definition of  Record Aggregate/ Aggregation

MoReq2010 defines an Aggregate as follows:

Each aggregation represents a grouping of records or a grouping of aggregations. Records are placed into aggregations for all or some of the following reasons:
• relate to the same business transaction or process,
• have the same business classification,
• share the same subject area or topic;
• relate to the same person, place, project, case, client, event or incident ,
• share common metadata,
• have the same source or format,
• are managed by the same business unit,
• are intended for the same audience,
• have the same level of security access control, or
• are held under the same retention and disposal conditions.
Aggregation often enhances the semantic understanding of records by purposefully placing them into a meaningful context alongside other like records.

At first glance, I thought that Aggregates were simply a fancy Case File, a standard concept in Records Management. To be clear, a Case File is meant to live under a Subject or Activity-level Category, and it is meant to represent a person, place, event, or any other way of breaking down a Subject or Activity into more discrete units. The DoD 5015.2 standard calls these Folders.

However, after further reading of the MoReq2010 standard, I discovered that Aggregates are much more broad than a simple Case File or Folder. Most importantly, MoReq2010 states that items that exist inside of an Aggregate can be classified to different record categories. This is of course completely contrary to the idea of a Case File, since it is meant to be part of the File Plan hierarchy, a lower level of Subject Categories. However, this idea of having different record categories referenced by a single Aggregate was not an idea that was so odd here at Collabware. For example, our previous major set of functionality, the Physical Records piece of Collabware CLM, features the ability to collect together items from different classifications into a single Physical Box for the purposes of physical housing. This Aggregate simply appeared to be an electronic version of our Physical Box, although as MoReq2010 states, collected together for a purpose, rather than just for physical housing.

Innovation at Collabware

Collabware is always doing research into new methods of Records Management and Information Governance, we are always discussing new concepts and new approaches, and we always want to push our software to become as useful as possible to our users. With all of the engagements we have with customers, we are also very familiar that Records Management is simply one piece of the larger Information Governance puzzle. So with Aggregates, we seek to bridge that gap between effective Records Management and efficient Information Governance.

We have spent many months discussing and conceptualizing how we wanted to leverage this Aggregate concept in Collabware CLM, and we feel that we have hit upon a winning combination with the suite of features that Aggregates will provide. More information will be forthcoming regarding the new features, but to state things briefly, we hope that Aggregates will be used by organizations as their major SharePoint structuring method.

Aggregates have the following features:

  • Can be represented by a SharePoint Site, although,
  • Do not have to be represented by a SharePoint Site, and they can exist only as a concept that collects together many documents for any reason;
  • Collect together SharePoint documents and Collabware CLM items, regardless of their location; this includes within Aggregate Sites, other locations, across different SharePoint Farms and in the future, O365 locations;
  • Fully searchable items, appearing in the most basic keyword searches to far more granular searches using Collabware CLM's new Search tools
  • Documents and items collected in an Aggregate can be viewed together, searched, and refined;
  • Can be classified as Records and used as a method of retaining and disposing of related material in bulk;
  • Documents collected together within Aggregates can have their own classification, be captured as records, and complete their own individual disposition separately from the Aggregate;
  • Documents can be associated to more than one Aggregate for different purposes;
  • Can share metadata with all of its associated items, making it an effective way of updating document metadata in bulk, across different file types and locations;
  • Can be created to represent an event, an activity, a user group, a physical location, and anything else our users can come up with; we really want Aggregates to be used for everything

With the huge amount of functionality tied to Aggregates, we recognize that it will take some time for our users to completely internalize the tool and start using it to its full extent. It is for this reason that I am writing this blog: to introduce the concept of Aggregates to our users and potential new users, to start the thinking early, to prompt questions and new ideas. Any feedback or ideas anyone has is fully appreciated and we welcome the opportunity to discuss this new tool with anyone interested.




Tagged: SharePoint, Collabware CLM, Compliance, Records Management, Discovery

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