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What Makes a Reliable Records Management Policy?

by securedatamgt | 24 Jul 2015

Records Management

Every business is different and should therefore implement a bespoke and reliable records management policy that suits specific administrative needs. Most importantly, every business should incorporate a record management policy that is internally understood and leaves no room for loss of important data.

Fortunately for employers, there are some records management ‘musts’ that businesses can follow to help maintain secure records management in the workplace. These four guidelines are the building blocks of an effective record management strategy.

4 Records Information Management (RIM) Policy Recommendations

1. A Secure Storage Solution

A reliable RIM programme must ensure that records are stored in a secure and suitable location. This location must protect documents or data throughout their retention life-cycles, from environmental and criminal threats.

Many companies that claim to have reliable record management system prioritise convenience over security. They will therefore keep their records in rooms that are unused by employees, such as basements – believing this will save time, money and hassle.

Storing documents in substandard locations could have hugely damaging long term consequences.

Files stored in inadequate spaces are more vulnerable to environmental harm caused by damp and humidity; both of which are capable of permanently destroying files and making them illegible. Furthermore, these vacant, and therefore often run-down, storage spaces rarely offer sufficient protection for confidential data.

Businesses need to manage information from secure offsite storage facilities which have the appropriate security measures in place to protect critical data.

2. An Effective Record Destruction Programme

Confidential record destruction is an area of record management that is frequently overlooked.

Many employees still believe that throwing a document in an ordinary bin is a satisfactory document disposal solution. As many businesses continue to transfer data to a digital format, it is easy to forget how valuable physical data remains and, consequently, how important it is for information destruction to be carried out securely.

Documents only become invaluable when they are illegible and a standard office bin is not going to be able to do this. Shredders still remain incredibly reliable when it comes to secure document disposal; shredders not only make files illegible, and therefore useless to any third party perpetrator, but can also be environmentally friendly if the paper waste is responsibly recycled afterwards.

3. A Straightforward File Indexing System

A straightforward indexing system will enable employees to track and control the movements of important files.

Files should be indexed in a way that reduces the time it takes for employees to track down relevant documents, improving employee productivity. It should also be easy to use – a complicated system will only deter employees from using it and lead to files being misplaced.

Organisations that deal with high volumes of paperwork might want to consider using an offsite record management partner to assist with their indexing system. A record management partner will use its expertise to create an indexing system suited to a business’s specific requirements.

4. Compliance and Collaboration in the Workplace

A record management system only becomes reliable once employees fully understand how a system works and is prepared to comply with this system.

A new record management system will always have a few teething problems, especially if its predecessor was particularly slack.

It will take some time for employees to get used to the responsibilities associated with an effective RIM system. It is the duty of the employer to encourage employees to get to grips with this new system and make sure employees are informed about what the fulfilment of a reliable RIM policy entails.