In this article, we delve into 8 key principles of records management. These principles are a great place to start if you are looking to implement an effective records management strategy.
At The Filing Room, we know a thing or two about how to manage important records safely and securely. We would always recommend using a third party to store your records but, if that is not an option right now, you can always do it yourself. As long as you consider these 8 key principles, you should be just fine.
The beauty of these 8 principles is that they are true and useful regardless of whether your records are physical or digital. They apply across all spheres of records management and document archiving.
Do not overlook the importance of records management. What frequently happens when businesses don’t use a third party is that records are placed in a designated area without any defined structure. Eventually, this leads to a huge mess of records that are impossible to decipher.
The best way of combatting this is accountability. Make someone responsible for the records. Delegate authority and responsibility for the records. The person accountable will be in charge of the auditability of the records. It falls on them to create a proper system.
The difference between content management and records management is that records often contain information that is private, confidential, or essential to business continuity. This information needs to be protected.
Proper systems need to be in place to protect records, whether it be a digital firewall or CCTV surveillance.
Integrity is all about maintaining the authenticity and reliability of the records in question. For example, digital records are susceptible to edits and hacks. On the other hand, physical records, if not managed correctly, can degrade to the point where they are functionally useless.
Different records require different solutions, but it is important to maintain the records’ integrity.
Having a records management system that is compliant means that the system is in line with the laws of the host country, industry regulations and the organisation’s own defining principles.
Whilst establishing the principles of compliance is the first step, the real challenge is enforcing these principles across the organisation.
The availability of the records within a records management system is often the defining feature of the system’s efficiency. A good system will allow for quick and painless access to records as and when they are needed.
Accessing old records is becoming more and more of a common occurrence so expect to see increased importance in this principle of records management.
Retention, in similar vein to compliance, is all about understanding the rules and regulations of the places where the records may be relevant.
Records must be maintained and secured for the appropriate time – no more, no less. The ‘appropriate time’ should be worked out based on legal, regulatory, fiscal and historical requirements.
Your records management system should be understandable and efficient to all relevant stakeholders, whether they be internal or external.
A key point to be made about transparency is that it should not jeopardise the protection of the records.
Records that, through their continued management in a records management system, no longer provide the organisation with any incremental value, or are even now existing as a liability, should be disposed of.
Disposal as a process has its own governing principles as it is a process that must occur legally, safely, and securely. This, however, is a discussion for another article.
Hopefully, the above has given you some insight into the general principles that govern records management and will be useful for you or your organisation going forward.