Why Your Business Needs a Record Management System and Policy to Support It
Many organizations find it difficult to keep on top of the increasing amount of records their organisation generates. In order to keep up to date with the fast paced digital world and shift from paper records to digital ones, it is crucial for businesses to implement a recordkeeping policy and utilize a records management system (RMS) to support that policy. An RMS is a specific software solution fit for the purpose of controlling organizational records, which is a requirement of every business, regardless of their size (consider tax returns, financial statements and employment records). Government organisations have an even higher standard of recordkeeping to ensure transparency to the public.
The Benefits of a Records Management System
Implementing a records management system offers many benefits to organisations. An effective RMS will make it easier to locate documents and records, thereby improving operational efficiency. When information is more readily available, it provides decision makers with more data to make better business decisions. A records management system will also provide a further layer of security to protect organisational data, which will help to prevent accidental data breaches and the risk of being hacked. The system will provide a backup of information in case of a disaster and will help organisations to comply with their legislative recordkeeping responsibilities.
Another key feature that makes a records management system the tool of choice for managing records, is the ability to apply classification and retention and disposal policies. Most organisations tend to over save their information for fear or deleting it prematurely. This in itself can cause its own set of risks by making too much information available in the event of a litigation. Therefore, appropriately disposing of records when its due is imperative; functionality that every RMS offers.
Many of the latest solutions such as HP TRIM records management, come with an advanced set of features such as scanning for digitization of records, audit trails for metadata requirements, zero-footprint web browser accessibility, integration with key line-of-business applications such as Office 365 and SharePoint, data encryption for improved information security, and workflow capabilities to support business process automation.
The Benefits of a Records Management Policy
A records management policy lays the foundation for an effective records management in organisations. The policy will demonstrate to employees and stakeholders that managing records is important and a requirement of all employees. It will provide a statement of intentions and mandate that underpins the records management program, and will provide a framework for procedures, business rules and retention and disposal schedules.
Major Elements That Must Be Covered in a Records Management Policy
When developing a records management policy, approach the project in a systematic manner. Develop a project plan and gain support from senior management. This is an important step as projects that don’t have support are often ignored and lose traction. Consult staff at all levels as well as stakeholders, as they will more often than not, have helpful insights and recommendations. Take time to research and understand current business practices, organisational challenges, legislative requirements and existing policies.
An effective policy is thorough but concise, making it easy to understand the organisation’s stance on records management, and what is expected of the entire team. The following elements of records management policy should be considered as a starting point for your policy’s development.
- Purpose – State the purpose and who has authorised the policy
- Scope – The kinds of records that are covered by this policy and where responsibilities lie
- Goals and Objectives – Ensure they are clearly defined so that employees understand why records management is important
- Rationale – Communicate the motivation and justification for the policy and an ideal area to list applicable standards and legislation
- Define terms – This will ensure everyone uses and understands the same language relating to records management
- Policy requirements or procedures – This is the nitty gritty of the policy, where procedures are laid out
- Responsibilities – Assigning responsibilities according to organisational role will help to establish accountability
Records management is one of the most complicated and increasingly important duty that companies faces. Every business needs to stay ahead of the regulatory and technology curves to ensure their recordkeeping is as efficient as possible. Implementing a records management policy and system such as HP TRIM to support it, will help to jumpstart your efforts.