2015 - 4th Quarter

Following Records Management Policies Matter

By Willie Jones, UM records Management Analyst

There has been much talk surrounding information governance in the records management practices. Information governance even has its own certification now: ARMA International’s Information Governance Professional Certification. The Information Governance Conference was launched this past September and was attended by many records management professionals.

The most influential information governance effort to date was the launch of the Information Governance Initiative, which works to advance the operation of information governance practices and technologies.

DID YOU KNOW?

According to the 2014 Information Governance Initiative Annual Report, 43 percent of organizations plan to scan paper documents within the next 12 months.

With all this focus on information governance, and getting along without paper, you may wonder whether Records Management still matters. Here are five reasons why records management is important to the University and to any organization.

1. Poor Policy Execution
In order to understand how an organization manages its information, a document retention policy is needed. Most organizations have a policy, but few actually follow it. This is a problem. In fact, if this is the case, you might as well have no policy at all. One reason people do not follow policies is because they find them to be too restrictive. It is more of a burden for them to follow than a benefit. If this is the case at your organization, it is time to make some changes.

2. Unmanaged Shared Drives
Who does not have a shared drive these days? In fact, most organizations have many shared drives. However, too many shared drives result in too much unstructured data across an organization. A Web application framework is a great way to collaborate and can serve as a main repository for an organization if used properly. However, if implemented without proper restrictions and guidance, you will have numerous unmanaged sites that could be a nightmare to deal with. User productivity will also suffer if you cannot find the information you need when you need it.

3. Move to a Paper-Lite Environment
Organizations now have the ability to create a “paper-lite” office environment, yet many still save the paper copy after the document is imaged. The development and implementation of a solid records management process is a key component of moving to a paper-lite environment.

4. Remain Compliant and Lower Risk
Organizations can run into some serious trouble when it comes to compliance. It is not good practice to dispose of information without proper records management guidelines. For example, suppose you receive a request from a client in connection with a particular document. You search for it and notice that the client document was deleted according to your disposition guidelines.

A month later, you are called to testify in court. The first question the judge will ask is, “Did you follow your disposition guidelines?” If your answer is “yes,” you will likely not be penalized since you simply disposed of the document in the normal course of business. However, if your answer is “no,” you will have an unhappy client and may face financial penalties.

5. Reduce Cost by Decommissioning Legacy Systems
All organizations have software applications that they no longer use and would like to decommission. However, in order to properly decommission these applications, valuable information must be extracted and retained.

With that said, organizations around the world are still struggling with records management when, in fact, it is the foundational cornerstone of information governance. Without it, your information governance initiative will fail. If you attempt to build a house without a solid foundation, your house will fall apart in no time.

We all manage records, we are ether managing them very well or we are putting ourselves, our stakeholders and the University at risk.

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