Inside TDV - The Data Vault Blog
Records Management 101
The task of creating a records management program from the ground up can be daunting, even for the most experienced of managers. Despite the operational efficiences, streamlined compliance with regulatory standards, and tighter controls over information storage methods that come with a correctly implemented program, many organizations are confused about what it takes to optimize their practices. The following is a quick guide to help your company begin the process:
Start The Conversation
Because not all organizations have a records department, gathering representatives from IT, legal, finance, and operations to discuss records management is critical to your success. Identifying project stakeholders and ascertaining the problems surrounding management of physical and electronic information can give you a roadmap for achieving the desired goals of the program.
Make Someone Accountable
According to the Association of Records Managers and Administrators (ARMA), every information management program should be headed by a senior executive. Empower a responsible party to oversee, enforce, and ensure the success of your organization’s records management program.
Before you start the planning process, it’s important to know what kind of inventory your company has on hand. This process includes indexing the volume, scope, and complexity of your organization’s information; both physical and electronic. This can be completed in-house or by working with a partner like The Data Vault to log document types, locations, owners, and security controls.
Identify Compliance Requirements
How businesses handle information is increasingly under legal scrutiny and governmental regulation, with significant penalties for organizations that do not comply with the framework. Depending on the industry, this can entail employee training, access control, retention timelines, and other specifics. The first step towards ensuring conformity with these standards is to understand what records your organization must retain. Leverage your inventory to determine what information is present within your organization and research what is required to maintain compliance.
Create a logical naming system that will clearly distinguish each individual record from the others. Doing so is an easy way to simplify storage and retrival, while saving time during filing. Elements to consider when building your index are date of creation, name of creator, description of content, functionality, and department code. Retention schedules also benefit when there is common naming patterns from year to year.
Conduct Records Management Evaluation
This is an opportunity to formalize your records management goals and analyze any pre-existing policies, procedures, workflows, and disaster recovery plans if they are in place. If not, the outcome of this evaluation will show you vulnerabilities or gaps in accountability that may exist in the organization. Don’t skip this step! Outside consultants that have experience in your industry can help if the neccessary expertise isn’t present.
Talk To The Experts
Once you’ve cataloged your records inventory, identified basic legal requirements, and analyzed your current practices to emphasize areas of improvement, reaching out to information management professionals like The Data Vault can help you find a solution that fits your needs. Whether it’s tying together separate policies into a comprehensive plan or helping you build a new system from the ground up, having a trusted partner is a crucial component to the records management puzzle.
Implement The Plan
With the preliminary steps concluded, the final stage is execution of the new records management blueprint. Quality advice on logistical challenges can ease the transition to off-site storage or digitization, creating less hassle and disruption in the office environment. The benefits of improved records management will become immediately observable, and as time passes will result in cost savings and increased efficiency. If you have any questions, our qualified experts are always ready to help answer any questions, contact us today and someone will be in touch!