The following five tips can help ensure that a records management program achieves its goals:
1. Records Management is Everyone’s Role: the volume and diversity of business records, from emails to reports to tweets, means that the person who creates or receives a records is in the best to classify it. Everyone in the organization needs to adopt the records management programme.
2. Don’t Micro-Classify: having hundreds, or possibly thousands of records classification categories may seem like a logical way to organize the multitude of different records in a company. However, the average information worker, whose available resources are already under pressure, does not want to spend any more time than necessary classifying records. Have a few, broad classifications makes the decision process simpler and faster.
3. Talk the talk from the top on down: A culture of compliance starts at the top. Businesses should establish a senior-level steering committee comprised of executives from legal, compliance, and information technology (IT). A committee like this signals the company’s commitment to compliant records management and ensures enterprise adoption.
4. Walk the walk, consistently: For compliance to become second nature, it needs to be clearly communicated to everyone in the organization, and policies and procedures must be accessible. Training should be rigorous and easily available, and organizations may consider rewarding compliance through financial incentives, promotions and corporate-wide recognition.
5. Measure the measurable: The ability to measure adherence to policy and adoption of procedures should be included in core business operations and audits. Conduct a compliance assessment, including a gap analysis, at least once a year, and prepare an action plan to close any identified holes.
The growth of data challenges a company’s ability to use and store its records in a compliant and cost-effective manner. Contrary to current practices, the solution is not to hire more vendors or to adopt multiple technologies. The key to compliance is consistency, with a unified enterprise-wide approach for managing all records, regardless of their format or location.
Records Management: If the U.S. Government Can Get Its (White) House in Order, So Can Your Organization
“Proper records management is the backbone of open Government”, according to a press release dated November 28, 2011 from The White House Office of the Press Secretary. We couldn’t agree more.
Decades of technological advances (along with a few spoliation issues, problems responding to information requests, and a pending sanctions motion or two) have led the United States Government to plan significant records management reforms.
Noting that the proliferation of technology and electronically stored information has “radically increased the volume and diversity of information that agencies must manage”, the U.S. government plans to develop a “21st-century framework” for records management, citing the following benefits:
- performance improvement
- the promotion of openness and accountability by better documenting agency actions and decisions
- lower costs
- better management of records (fewer lost records) and easier to use and share
- reduction in redundant efforts
All of these benefits apply in the private corporate context as well. In any event, if the U.S. government can prioritize and execute defensible records management, your organization can too.