All too many organizations underestimate or, dare I say, ignore the importance of records management. Records management (RM) isn't just about records management; it also offers advantages such as productivity, accuracy, and favorable bottom-line impact. Furthermore, the records management discipline ensures your file searches are quick and easy and regulatory and legal compliance are met.
What's the difference between a record and any old document?
A record is a document that is created or received within the general course of corporate business. It can be paper (boo!) or digital, and it contains information concerned with transactional activities. A record can be preserved on a temporary or a permanent basis following regulatory mandates or internal rules. Records often serve as evidence of an organization's SOPs and decisions, holding administrative, historical, and legal value.
A document is a piece of written content (paper or electronic) that contains information in either structured or unstructured format. Documents can be revised and collaborated upon as needed. Documents are a short-term vehicle to work consistently and productively. Overall, consider a document a work in progress and a record the finished product.
So records management is still essential?
RM is essential because it offers a formal methodology to oversee information owned by the organization. The entire records lifecycle consists of creation, receiving, collaboration, maintaining, disposition, or destruction, and some records must be kept by law (compliance) or internal operating procedures.
Leveraging records management is the best way to guarantee that records with historical, fiscal, and legal impact are accurately identified and preserved. That non-essential records are discarded as often as is required by established guidelines.
One final thought, your records management strategy should not be "we keep everything, always." This approach could be problematic, especially when involved in litigation. Opposing counsel can request copies of all records about the matter at hand. So, if you have 30 years' worth of employee records and they are asked for during discovery, you have to provide them. In contrast, if you have a retention schedule that says," all records about X will be destroyed after five years." The discovery process becomes less arduous.
A records management system can benefit your organization, from improved efficiency and faster retrieval to enhanced workflow automation and minimized risks. Stay tuned for part two, where we will explore a few of the top reasons for your agency to invest in a records management system and start enjoying all the benefits as soon as possible.