We created the archiving insights series of articles as a bulletin board for all of Kenya’s businesspeople. It is a business blog designed to keep its viewers up-to-date with the latest developments in East African business. We hope that some of the information we have shared has made our readers better informed on the factors influencing their sector of the Kenyan economy.
It is in the interest of records and document management professionals to boost the economic output of the country as a whole. Increased business activity for the country means a greater number of records of that activity.
But we also created this series of articles to inform local businesspeople on the benefits of third-party records management. In some of our previous pieces, we have talked about the benefits – on workforce morale, business operation, and crisis management – of professional records storage.
We are all businesspeople in our own industry. We do not often have time to think about our everyday business operations as well as how best to manage and store our records. Good records management is essential, however. You never know when a client will want a particular record sent to them for their accounts, or when you may have to rely on a certain document to prove delivery of a certain service or good on a certain day.
Furthermore, your records, the life-blood and history of your business, can easily be damaged or lost in disorderly conditions. We are often called to make emergency pick-ups of records that have been stored inefficiently by clients who hope we can do some emergency recovery of a certain piece of information.
So, in the interest of good records management, whether you choose to do it in-house or with a third-party management firm, we have decided to impart on you some of the tricks of the trade. With the correct terminology for proper records management, you’ll be able to create a good system to ensure you never lose a document again.
Information is everything. It is the commodity that a business’ records management system is designed to protect. It is what keeps your business moving forward and illustrates that it has a past.
Information is stored in a variety of ways, especially in this digital age, but, whether it is written, printed or found only as a series of 1s and 0s on a piece of computer code, these ways are all considered a document.
In everyday conversation, documents and records are not considered to be different from one another. However, in the information and records management industries, there is a slight distinction between the two terms.
A document is a collection of information and, as we’ve said, it can come in physical or digital form. A document is usually an everyday collation of information. It can be a shopping list, a memo, an email or a short hand-written note.
A document tends to be part of an ongoing project. It describes some small part of a greater plan. A document can be revised often, altered until it has turned into the final version of itself.
To make things confusing, a record often starts out as a document. However, not all documents are records.
Once a project is completed, certain of the documents that were used in the process of completing that project become evidence of its completion. The document becomes a record of what and how that project transpired.
The largest difference between a record and a document is that a record is used as evidence of something that has happened and as such it cannot be changed. Examples of records could include business reports, emails which state a final command or demand an action, or photographs.
Records tend to be kept for a lot longer than documents. That’s because the record-keeper often does not know when they will need it again.
Archives is another one of those terms thrown around within the records management industry. Unfortunately, the definition of archive is just as nuanced as the difference between documents and records.
An archive is a series of records that have been selected for safe-keeping because of some value to the record-keeper. Where a record is kept for its potential importance in providing evidence of what transpired in the past, an archive is put into storage by someone who specifically seeks to preserve the past.
Archives tend to have some sort of historical, legal or emotional value to those keeping them. They can be kept to preserve, for future readers, an illustration of how a company used to be run or simply as a memento of different times.
We hope this helps
Now you know some of language used in the world of records management. If you have created your own in-house system, these terms will help you pave the way toward an effective system of records management. If you decide that storing your documents is not worth your time, then at least you now have a better idea of what your third-party document storage company is talking about.