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 conception through disposal.
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.
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 production, receiving, maintenance, usage, and disposal of records are all part of the records management process. A record is content that details a commercial transaction in this context.
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.
Why Is Records Management Important?
Information is being produced at a never-before-seen rate. Many businesses recognize that they are unprepared to manage this information.
The primary purpose of electronic records management is to maintain important information easily available for business requirements and compliance audits.
Throughout my profession, I’ve seen companies lose legal cases because they couldn’t find the documentation needed to establish their case (document was disposed accidently). Not only that, but when legal audits are undertaken, other businesses experience significant difficulties. All of this is one of the many reasons why records management is such an important practice in businesses.
Proper records management can also assist a corporation that finds itself in court. Records can be used to demonstrate compliance with regulatory obligations, give verification of transactions, and safeguard against unwanted access.
It is very important at this stage to have an enterprise wide records management policy that assure proper preservation of records throughout their lifecycle.
At this level, it is critical to have an enterprise-wide records management strategy in place that ensures adequate preservation of documents throughout their lifespan.
As data continues to grow on an annual basis, and the sources of information creation expand, particularly with the inclusion of new technologies, it will become hard to monitor and manage all of this information without a strong practice implementation.
Aside from significant company losses, inadequate records management might result in costly compliance penalties, lost productivity, wasteful audits, data overload, and other consequences.
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.
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, 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
As a firm believer in records management and its capacity to assist organizations with their overall information management concerns, here are some suggestions to assist you in implementing an efficient records management program.
1- Establish Policies and Procedures
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 in 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 records 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 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- Outsource If Needed
If you are new to records management, 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.
Records Management Benefits
An RM program can provide various advantages to a business. Let us consider a few examples.
Reduces Records Volume and Storage Costs
An organization may restrict the expansion of its records by managing them properly and retaining only important data.
Consider how much data an organization would have to deal with if there were no rules or controls in place to determine what should be kept and what should be discarded.
If you maintain all of your paper and digital records, you will incur additional costs for storage, safety, security, and so on, which your firm may use to investigate other areas that can provide more leads.
Improved Regulatory Compliance
A good record management program guarantees that they are fully compliant with all applicable rules and regulations. If a corporation fails to submit critical records during a lawsuit or regulatory review, it may risk serious penalties or legal ramifications.
Data and records management ensures that sensitive material or personnel details are not accessible by unauthorized people while preserving the integrity and privacy of your records.
Check out this full guide for more information Boost Your DOCUMENT SECURITY With These Tips (theecmconsultant.com)
Effective Retrieval of Records
Information is only useful when it can be retrieved
Employees are losing significant time if information is not immediately accessible and retrievable. RM aids in the regulation of information distribution and accessibility across businesses.
Easy Workflow Automation
When information is organized and easily available from other systems, it makes process automation much easier to execute.
There is no way to avoid boosting any organization’s operations by automating its most time-consuming processes in today’s society.
The trend of automating company processes is growing, and you should know how to get started.