Organizations today are asking more of their records managers, as they take on additional information governance responsibilities and become increasingly integrated with enterprise-level information management policy decisions.
As the stewards of valuable information assets, records managers are faced with navigating complex retention schedules, facilitating the timely and accurate retrieval, transfer, and destruction of records, and providing comprehensive audit reports. While achieving a successful and sustainable records management program can be a lengthy process, here are tips to overcome these top records management challenges.
Challenge #1: Complying with retention schedules
Depending on the industry and/or type of record, organizations can have a broad range of retention schedule records series to comply with, including local, state, and federal requirements. Regulatory agencies can impose fines and penalties on organizations that are not in compliance with retention schedule requirements.
In 2014, Fairfax County public schools faced up to $6 million in fines when it was discovered that 5,600 employee records, known as I-9 files, were mistakenly destroyed. If employers fail to keep these documents for inspection, they could face fines of $110-$1,100 per form.
RIM professionals can use records management software to effectively implement retention schedules, allowing them to:
1. Implement all retention schedules based on known regulatory requirements, corporate policies, and record type. Legal or regulatory citation reference may also be optionally included.
2. Easily filter and group records in a series based on its retention and disposition schedule.
3. Automatically process requests such as transfers, archiving, or disposition approvals based on record series (and create an audit trail of record life cycle in the process).
Challenge #2: Timely and accurate retrieval, transfer, and destruction of records
A successful records management program must have a process that allows for timely retrieval, transfer, and disposition of records. If records cannot be produced when requested, essential business functions may be delayed, or worse, penalties or fines may be issued.
Records managers can overcome this challenge by automating this process with records management software, enabling users to:
1. Perform federated searches to successfully retrieve all records, regardless of media type, including associated digital and physical records.
2. Easily search and locate relevant documents and records based on metadata.
3. Set up workflow notifications to alert users that still have checked-out records in their possession or have pending disposition approvals, ensuring greater user accountability.
Challenge #3: Providing comprehensive reports for regulators or audits
Reporting provides decision-makers with visibility into the access, actions, and history of all records and documents within an organization. Reporting capabilities become more important during an audit, when organizations must show regulatory agencies that they are compliant with record retention requirements. Without the right tools, this process can be lengthy and put additional strain on resources. Records managers can leverage the reporting power of records management software to easily provide the necessary audit reports, including:
1. Complete history of all records requests, including check-in/check-out and transfers.
2. Location and content reports for physical records such as boxes and files, including past due or missing items
3. System access and user activity reports
The records and information management field is evolving beyond the records center and becoming more integrated with enterprise-level information governance strategies. As organizations continue to invest in RIM/IG resources, it’s important for records managers to proactively seek new tools and innovative technologies to overcome these top challenges and continue to add value to their organizations.