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Effective records management is essential for any organization, large or small, because information and data are the foundation of any business. No organization can run without data since there will be no clear standards or norms to follow when doing the task. Data and historical data are critical for projecting and assessing customers in various scenarios and developing a good response.
Records management is a method for controlling the creation, maintenance, acquisition, and disposal of information, regardless of its format. In other terms, it relates to the management of a company’s important information from creation through disposal.
Few organizations in the MIDDLE EAST have given their records the attention they need and know how to handle them. In reality, the concept of information management as a whole is not taken seriously. However, as we move closer to a digital world, they will be unable to compete and flourish if they ignore the value of data and analysis.
The purpose of electronic records management is to assist an organization in maintaining access to vital information for both business operations and compliance audits.
While records (physical or digital) are sometimes confused with documents, they contain proof of a specific business activity, necessitating their storage and retention for a lengthy period of time.
Check out my full explanation about records control and retention in this blog post What Is Records Retention: Why It Is A Must For Organizations (theecmconsultant.com).
However, many companies lack efficient rules and practices for maintaining coordinated control over their collected data. As a consequence, they preserve certain records for too long, spend too much on storage, lose time hunting for missing data, incur fines for non-compliance with record-keeping policies, risk a public-relations nightmare, and fail to secure mission-critical data from harm.
What is Records Management?
Records Management (RM) is defined as the field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use, and disposition of records, as well as the processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records, according to ISO standard 15489: 2001.
Any information kept as proof or utilized in business operations might be considered a record. Final reports, budget documents, balance sheets, and so on are examples of records.
The enterprise records management process includes the generation, receipt, maintenance, use, and disposal of records during the course of their existence. The process may also include rules and procedures for creating and approving records, as well as the enforcement of such policies and procedures.
The production, receiving, maintenance, usage, and disposal of records are all part of the effective records management process. A record is content that details a commercial transaction in this context.
Effective records management is part of an organization’s wider duty of governance, risk management, and compliance, and it is primarily concerned with managing the evidence of an organization’s operations as well as the reduction or mitigation of risk connected with it.
Any organization, public or private, need a plan and effective recordkeeping to keep information structured and accessible. RM offers a framework for gaining control of mountains of paperwork and locating papers, as well as ensuring that necessary information is conveniently accessible and quickly available.
Smaller companies may utilize standard spreadsheets to monitor every piece of essential information; but, as the volume of data grows, you will want a more simple and automatic method to maintain your records efficiently.
The Records Management Lifecycle
There is a lifecycle in records management that corresponds to the stages that a record goes through. This lifetime includes the production of a record as well as its disposal. Each phase has its own set of policies and processes.
I strongly recommend checking the below article for detailed information
The initial stage of a record’s lifespan is creation. It entails receiving a record and classifying it as a record.
The document might be in any format, such as paper documents, digital forms, emails, studies, and so on.
We must preserve and secure a record as we use and alter it, including unlawful access and harm.
There are two types of records states: Active and Inactive.
Active records that are often accessed are carefully stored and managed to guarantee speedy retrieval. Inactive records are kept secure off-site that a firm no longer utilizes for current business but must keep until the end of its retention term.
Varying organizations have different regulations about how long a record must be kept.
We set the time limit for which records must be stored and secured in this stage. It is often handled by categories and the rules and regulations in the industry in which your firm operates unless otherwise stipulated by legislation.
Finally, we must guarantee that all of our records are in accordance with our previously specified data retention standards and policies.
The data and records management team must determine whether to destroy or archive a record at the end of its lifespan.
If a record can be securely deleted without affecting or risking your business in the future, the team should do so to conserve storage, and space, and manage information size.
Otherwise, the documents should be archived in accordance with the agreed-upon archival techniques.
Following the destruction of non-essential records, you must identify and archive records with long-term retention value.
Feel free to check out my article What is Archiving: Why is it Important? (theecmconsultant.com) for a complete overview.
Records Management Tips
In order to improve records management implementation within your organization, you need first to look at the tips below and start implementing them.
There are 8 tips for effective records management in any organization:
1- Establish Policies and Procedures
Clear policies and procedures improve records management dramatically.
This is a critical stage that will assist you in precisely defining the rules and processes for maintaining records throughout their lives, from creation to disposition.
Having well-established policies will ensure that records are always treated and managed consistently.
So, in order to be as clear as possible, spend your time developing a decent strategy. Check that your policies are:
- Simple to understand: describe and clarify each step in the policy so that your staff can follow it.
- Not so complicated: if the laws and regulations are difficult to follow, some of your staff will find a method to work around them, exposing your sensitive information or deleting documents before they should!
- Describe the various tasks and duties of employees.
- Clearly identify all stages of a record’s lifecycle.
- In conjunction with the retention term, state precisely the sort of records your organization works with.
- How to Prevent Unauthorized Access to These Records
Always keep in mind that these rules should be available to all employees and properly publicized throughout the firm. A RIM policy can only be successful if all employees in the organization support it.
2- Ensure That Your Records Are Easily Accessible
Ensure that all of your organization’s records are easily accessible. Begin by making excellent use of metadata through systematic management, and then utilize the system to ensure that information is available fast when needed.
3- When Appropriate, Archive Records
Records should be available as long as the business needs them. it is very important to know how each type of record should be archived.
4- Create and Implement a Records Retention Policy
This is crucial for preserving record control and being compliant. For record management, each industry needs to adhere to a set of laws and regulations. Begin by identifying these industry and country-specific rules, and then create a records retention timeline.
5- Recording, Tracking, and Monitoring
You must guarantee that you have complete history and control over the lifespan of a record. This is readily accomplished through the use of technology that allows you to know where documents are maintained, who has access to them, what the automated retention policy is, and so on.
6- Use Software
We live in a world where technology plays a significant part in how businesses prosper. Using RIM software allows you to govern and manage records digitally, automate retention regulations, regulate access, and so on.
Consider this a must-do step!
7- Train Your Employees
To fully benefit from the system’s capabilities, you must teach your organization’s staff on how to utilize it.
You must guarantee that each knowledge worker can function successfully without assistance.
8- Outsourced If Needed
If you are new, especially in big businesses, it is a smart idea to outsource all or part of your records management program to a well-established consultant firm (there are many!) to help you get started and teach your personnel.
What Are The Main Types Of Records?
There are 6 main types of records each organization will be dealing with including:
1- Correspondence records
For example, letters, circulars, memoranda, notifications, and so on.
2- Legal records
For example, government laws, contracts, regulations, and so on.
3- Accounting records
Cash receipts, deposit slips, sales records, profit and loss statements, vouchers, balance sheets, and so on.
4- Personnel records
Resumes, salary, bonuses, and so on.
5- Progress records
Sales, purchases, cost, budget, liquidity, and so on.
6- Miscellaneous records
How Can You Ensure Compliance with Legal Requirements in Record Management?
There are a few things you can do to ensure compliance with legal requirements in record management. For example, you should become familiar with the retention periods for different types of records and make sure that you are following them.
There are also some best practices that can help you to keep your records safe and secure:
– Keep your most important documents in a locked cabinet or safe;
– Do not leave your keys or other access codes lying around;
– Always shred paper before recycling it.