In order to build a successful records program, you first need to understand what a record is and that every record goes through a life cycle.
Record — Any recorded information, regardless of medium or characteristics, made or received and retained by an organization in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business. (ARMA glossary 4th Edition)
Example of records:
• Policies and Procedures.
• Employee files
Records life cycle:
Basically a record is born, it lives and then it dies.
Records information management (RIM) — is a corporate area of endeavor involving the administration of all business records throughout their life cycle.
Characteristics of records program
• Records —
Should be identified, protected and readily available.
Program should specify purpose, assign roles and responsibilities, allow staff training and be continuously audited.
• Risk assessment conducted and discuss if offsite storage is needed, if records should be duplicated or stored at an alternate way if an event occurred and records would need to be reconstituted. (Example disaster)
Educate (research state and federal laws and your organizations policies and procedures)
Understanding Lifecycle (learn about the cycle records go through and what happens at the end of the Lifecycle)
Identifying records and indexing (situate how you will classify each record and how it should be inventoried and assess how many records you have and what type they are)
Create an inventory and decide wich records can be destroyed. Then conduct a risk assessment to decide whether off site storage is needed.
Organize Team — roles and responsibilities
May consist of an individual from every department, may have an outsourced third party, or just one single person. You, should design your program with the following in mind.
Senior Level - leadership directive, helps to direct, enforce and maintain program.
IT/RM — Must be willing to allocate resources and willing to work together.
Legal/Finance/HR - able to conduct training and audits. Ensure compliance and implement retention schedule.
Individual Departments - Employees informed and follow program.
Begin your policies and procedures in writing making sure the policies and procedures coincide with your organization’s policies and procedures.
Create a retention schedule, disaster recovery, business continuity and secure destruction methods.
Training Auditing Updating
All new hires and employees should trained and know the role and importance of implemented records program. Program should be continually audited and updated. Compliance should be ensured and consequences for noncompliance should be made clear.
Most Important Tool
Your records management program will be the most important tool.
Poor management of records can lead to other problems a successful records program will put everything into place and when followed correctly will allow for the search and retrieval of the records needed.
Remember a records program will be successful if it is realistic, audited and enforced.
Knowledge is power, Communication is key