Top considerations and practical tips for selecting the best information management solution for your organisation
Information Management Systems are more than just software solutions; they’re the engines that drive access to an organisation’s knowledge. In today’s fast-paced digital world, choosing the right solution is a strategic decision that affects how effectively you manage and disseminate information within your library or archive. The challenge? There’s a plethora of options out there, each promising to be the ideal fit for your specific needs.
As you seek to modernise your information management, it’s important to cut through the noise and focus on what really matters for your organisation. In this guide, we’re going to simplify the process.
We’ll explore six critical factors you need to consider when selecting an archive management solution or library management system — from how well it scales to your needs, to its user-friendliness, and how it integrates with other systems. We’ll provide you with straightforward tips and insights to help you choose a solution that will not only serve your current needs but also grow with your organisation into the future.
Do you currently manage and maintain multiple or standalone systems?
Archive teams, library and information centres all too often have their own independent applications to manage their collections and materials. But there is another way.
A single, combined archive library and information management system that still provides the individualities needed by all, but offers combined controlled vocabularies, subject terms to aid all. End users of the service can benefit from a single search across all materials, and yet still have results clearly displayed and presented.
Additionally, archive and library teams can still have individual admin screens, displaying the tools they and only they need to help them with their daily duties.
Key Factors to Consider When Choosing A Modernised Information Management Solution
Is your current system a flexible software application?
A key trait of any leading-edge information management application is its flexibility. At the centre of this flexibility is a robust database that adapts to your needs. Ask yourself, does your current system allow you to modify metadata structures with ease? Can you create and manage relationships between different data elements to suit your unique organisational demands?
Flexibility in such an application isn’t just about managing information; it’s about presenting it in a way that enhances the user experience. An integrated search portal gives you the power to control the display and access of record results. This control is crucial when showcasing your special collections and bolstering the reputation of your library or archive.
If your current system feels rigid, it might be time to consider if it’s providing the full spectrum of benefits that come with a truly flexible application. Can it adapt to the evolving landscape of your organisation’s needs? The right solution should not constrain but instead should grow and shift with you, meeting both current and future challenges.
Is Security a Priority?
A secure software environment is without a doubt a critical factor to consider.
We’ve put together a checklist of considerations that, while not exhaustive, may help shape the conversation around assessing the security of any new information management solution you bring into your organisation:
- Consider whether a field-level security model like Soutron’s is necessary to control user access levels and safeguard sensitive information
- Ensure a user authentication process, like SSO, is used for effective access control
- Ask if the data model is shared or private to ensure content security
- Assess the location of servers and whether this impacts security and accessibility. Soutron offers 4 location options: US, UK, EU, and Canada
- Inquire where and by whom setup and configuration is done and establish measures for accountability
- Ensure daily backup procedures are in place, including what locations they are stored in, and their retention periods to confirm they meet your security standards
- Have clear internal policies for archive and library staff regarding content deletion and procedures for recovering data if needed
- Evaluate the security of data transfers by ensuring your web site is protected with HTTPS/SSL and SFTP (used for file transfers)
Consider these questions when gauging the security robustness of your current system. Have you faced challenges related to these issues, or does your solution provide a completely secure environment? These questions are not just for introspection but are a call to action to ensure your system is as secure as you assume it to be.
Should you prioritise a friction-less implementation?
Change, especially when it comes to updating critical systems, is often met with apprehension. Yet, the rapid advancement of technology necessitates that departments regularly evaluate their information management systems. Is there a more efficient way to organise and access data? Could workflows be improved? How flexible is the management of various data types?
Transitioning to a new archive and library management system is undoubtedly a significant move, loaded with challenges but also rich with opportunities, such as the chance to thoroughly review and enhance your data.
Efficient data migration is crucial when implementing a new solution. It’s not just about moving data; it’s an opportunity to restructure and refine it, ensuring it’s presented in the most accessible and intuitive way for users. This process should improve overall performance and services, not just replicate them in a new system.
With decades of experience in data migration, the Soutron approach focuses on more than the transfer. We analyse data to ensure it’s leveraged to its full potential within the tools and features built into Soutron, enhancing user experience and supporting new, creative ways to manage and present information.
When considering a system change, it’s not about how long your current system has been in place, but whether it still meets the evolving needs of your users and your organisation. If you’re looking to revitalise your archive or library service and ensure continuous improvement, it’s crucial to choose a system—and a supplier—that aligns with your vision for growth and innovation. Don’t settle for a system that just keeps pace; aim for one that drives your organisation forward.
Is having a ‘Modern’ Information Management solution important for you and your organisation
A truly modern application is built on the foundation of continuous improvement—capable of integrating new workflows, features, and updates without disrupting your existing operations. It’s about having a system that evolves, one that a dedicated development team consistently refines with innovative features.
Moreover, a modern-day solution doesn’t operate in isolation. It should offer connectivity and integrations with third-party applications and services to enhance its capabilities. Consider whether your current system is playing well with other technologies and if it can be effortlessly integrated with new tools to extend its functionality.
If your current system isn’t keeping pace with technological advances or if integration seems more like a workaround than a feature, it might be a sign to transition to a more modern solution. The right system should empower your library or archive to stay ahead of the curve, not just keep up with it.
Applying the “MoSCoW” approach
When deciding to switch to a new Integrated Archive and Library Management System, thoughtful planning and stakeholder engagement are key. Enhanced project management skills indicate that many of those challenges could have been pre-empted with better preparation and inclusive conversations.
“Phase 0”—the first strategic development of a business case for a new solution. This includes determining requirements, assessing the project’s viability, and envisioning the desired outcome. This foundational phase is crucial as it shapes the scope, budget, and timeline as the planning progresses.
It’s essential to involve all stakeholders in this early stage. The goal should be to have a comprehensive representation at the table—cataloguers, circulation, reference staff and IT — to ensure all needs are accurately captured.
To facilitate this, the MoSCoW method can be an effective tool. By categorising potential system requirements into “must-haves,” “should-haves,” “could-haves,” and “won’t-haves,” you can prioritise features and streamline the selection process. This also prepares the organisation to critically evaluate vendor proposals based on those categorised needs.
Additionally, leveraging insights from peers in the archive and library community who have recently undergone an recent transition can be invaluable. Their experiences can shed light on potential pitfalls and successful strategies.
It’s recommended for archives and libraries to adopt a proactive stance in any such transition. Engaging with vendors early to understand the timeline for implementation is wise. A comprehensive switch over could require up to 6 months or more, allowing sufficient time for requirement gathering, vendor selection, and system adoption. With solid planning, the chances of a smooth and successful transition to a new solution are greatly enhanced.
Modernising your Integrated Archive and Library System is not just a technical upgrade; it’s an investment in the future of your archive and library’s service provision and knowledge dissemination. The core attributes we’ve discussed—flexibility, modernity, and security—serve as the bedrock for a robust solution that can adapt to evolving information landscapes, integrate with cutting-edge technologies, and protect your valuable data against emerging security threats.
As you consider transitioning to a new information management system, remember that flexibility will allow your system to adapt and evolve with your organisational needs. Embracing modernity ensures that your new solution can leverage the latest technologies and remain future-proof.
The take-home message is clear: the right solution should align with your archive and library’s current practices while also positioning you to efficiently manage change, foster innovation, and maintain stringent security protocols. Whether you’re refining user access, ensuring data is presented intuitively, or safeguarding against the latest cybersecurity threats, each step towards modernising your system should be taken with both immediate needs and long-term objectives in mind.
At Soutron Global, our mission is to empower special libraries, archives, knowledge, and information centres worldwide. We achieve this by providing innovative and user-friendly software solutions that are designed to enhance the value and accessibility of their collections. Our focus is on delivering flexible and efficient tools tailored to the unique demands of these sectors, dedicated to managing archive and library transformation.
If you’re considering modernising your archive, library or information centre into the new year, schedule a demo with one of our experts today.