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Record management is an integral part of modern-day business. And many successful companies are now investing in the automation of record management as they go through a digital transformation.

But, before we dive into complex topics like why records management is vital for your business or how automating it can enhance your organization, we need to understand what it actually signifies.

So, on that note, let us dive right in and figure out what records management is.

What is records management?

According to the International Organization for standardization, also known as ISO, records are “information created, received and maintained as evidence and information by an organization or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business.”

These records can be in various forms. Some of the most commonly used records are,

  • Digital files.
  • Audio recordings.
  • Video recordings.
  • Photos.
  • Paper records.

These records can hold various vital information related to legal aspects of the organization, financial documentation, Process information on daily operation, and much more. And records management is basically the act of creation and maintenance of these records.

However, to put it in such simple words is not enough to fully understand all records management aspects. Besides the simple creation of record files, record management also involves various in-depth tasks that help streamline the company process.

Some of the tasks that are within the scope of records management are,

  • Creation of reports and other publications.
  • Ensuring data protection.
  • Archiving finished records.
  • Make sure that all the records are easily accessible to the parties when needed.
  • Establishment of guidelines, policies, and organization standards.

And much more.

What is Electronic Records Management (ERM)?

According to the ISO standard 15489: 2001, the records management is the “field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use, and disposition of records, including the processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records.”

Electronic records management is the whole management process for the specific files or records that are electronic. There is a critical difference between traditional records management, where the primary focus is on physical records, and ERM, where the main focus is on electronic data.

As most modern-day companies are adopting the digitalization of data, ERM is becoming an integral part of organizations. ERM is responsible for capturing records to enhance the digital business process of the company.

As you are not spending on inventory to have paper copies of the records, ERM enables you to improve the efficacy and productivity of the organization. Moreover, it allows you to adopt business process automation easily. It also helps you by providing precise auditing.

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What Are the Types of Records?

As companies are getting more diverse in their field of operation, various types of records are being used to create, receive and maintain data. These different types of records are used for specific purposes.

Listed below are the most common types of records used in modern-day business.

Audit records

Audit records enable the company to take a look and verify which employee is complying with the industry regulations (Both internal and external regulations)

Policy records

Policy records include everything from planning and techniques to operational methods and rules within the organization.

Organization records that relate to all the budget planning, functional charts fiscal records are a part of the policy record. It can also involve any form of order or directive provided by the higher-level authority, High-level officials, instructions, memoranda, and other reports related to performance methods.

Legal records are basically some specific types of documents that companies are mandated to record by law. These records can be different according to the state requirement.

They may include,

  • Rules related to the compliance regulations
  • executive orders and judicial opinions.
  • Payroll records and basic state personal documentation.

Electronic records

Electronic records are basically records that are either created electronically or are stored by any electronic means. As they do not take up physical space and can be easily maintained, electronic records are the most popular form of record storing solution in modern-day companies.

Archival records

Archival records are mainly the records are done being used for the time being and are archived for either historical value or for future legal issues.

What is the purpose of record management?

The primary reason behind implementing record management is simple. It provides a business to easily store all the valuable information it has and makes them readily available for future use cases.

A more traditional approach to record management was just to track all the necessary information in the form of a spreadsheet. Even though this might seem a great idea to do so, in practical cases, it actually isn’t.

It is because as organizations tend to get larger with each passing year, the sheer volume of information they need in hand increases significantly. Having all of that documented in a simple spreadsheet can actually do more harm to the company than good.

Not only finding the information becomes more complex with each need information added, but also the storage process becomes complex. That is why every company needs to have a streamlined record management strategy in hand to keep everything fully organized.

Moreover, the records will be readily available to anyone who needs them within the company. This makes sure that no time is lost due to the complex record searching. As a result, employees get to spend more time on high-value tasks and increase their productivity.

According to record storage, Over 7.5 per cent of all paper documents can easily get lost in the process. And if the lost documents hold any essential data, this can lead to serious issues like,

  • The loss of license.
  • Reputation damage.
  • Hefty fines.
  • Loss of productivity.
  • Stress.
  • Cancelled order.

And so much more.

To solve this problem, there is also various documentation software on the market. This software can help you tackle the issue and ensure a streamlined records management solution for your organization.

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Why Is Records Management Important?

According to a survey done by IBM, 90% of all the data in the world was created in only two years. This quickly speaks volumes about how important it is for us to monitor all our data. Because with such a massive volume of information available to us today, without having the proper monitoring, management of these data is close to impossible.

Moreover, various regulatory issues are throwing some big challenges toward small businesses. This makes the proper management of records a vital part of every modern-day company. From regular Tax Reform to The Affordable Care Act (ACA), Ever-changing paid leave laws, and employee verification, record management is imperative for all businesses. Without the enforced record management process, a business can face various needless audits, productivity loss, and accidental fines for noncompliance.

Record management is also very important as it helps you to comply with federal records management law.

What is the records management process?

The record management process involves the whole lifecycle of the records. That means you have everything from the creation and modification to the maintenance, disposal, and archive of the records. Below we have listed each process step and explained it further for a better understanding of the whole Lifecycle.

Records creation

To start any records management process, the first thing that comes to the lifecycle is record creation. It can either be created in-house or can be received from a third party. Here are some of the ways records can be created,

  • Receiving any email.
  • Spreadsheet creation
  • Database or document creation
  • Document received from the outside.

Also, there could be various forms of contracts, budget listing, policy, bank statements, manuals, and regulatory documents, which are considered records. However, remember that every form of data or document that comes through the door is not subject to records management. What the company wants to keep as a record is up to the company itself to determine.

Use or modification

The use or modification is an active process in the record management lifecycle. This involves any form of distribution or change to the records data.

For example, think of a paid leave policy already created by your HR department a few months ago. This record is archived for any future use. However, when there is a change to the policy, the HR department can easily change the record and redistribute it across all the employees. This process will be noted as the use or modification phase of a record.

Maintaining or protection

Once the records are created and used, the company needs to let the record go through a security classification. This allows the organization to fully document the data. After that, the records are classified in to different categories and organized according to the company’s record organization structure.

This organizing process can occur in an on-site file cabinet, offsite storage, or even in the digital platform. However, the key thing to note about this process is that it’s designed to help prevent any form of unauthorized access and damage to the record itself.

Disposal of records

Disposal of records is a vital process for any records management lifecycle. You do not want to keep unwanted records for years on end. Because having excess records than needs can significantly increase the overhead cost without you even noticing. It can also leave more room for damage in case of data breaches. So why would you even keep files way past the legal requirements and hold on to the risk of a penalty?

Once the files are fully organized and protected, you need to dispose of all the documents that are not needed. A good rule of thumb is to choose a NAID-certified company to take care of all the record disposal.

Archiving records

The final step is to archive those records that you need to keep permanently. In case you come across any records of that manner, it is time to move them to any secure archive.

Moreover, the archive should be indexed and easily searchable to ensure a hassle-free experience when retrieval is needed.

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What is a record in record management?

Record in record management is any form of document that is created by you or received by you or your organization. These records help you to conduct your business appropriately. Moreover, the record can be of any format, whether it is paper-based or fully electronic. Sometimes even large videos can be considered records.

Keep in mind that the value of your records is not dependent on the format type but on the content it holds.

There are four criteria that the item must meet in order to be considered as a record. They are,

  • Authenticity.
  • Reliability.
  • Integrity.
  • Usability.

The record must be authentic and be an accurate representation of what it was meant to be created for. Moreover, the source of the form has to be trusted to ensure a strong sense of reality in the content. The item must then be checked to see if it has been altered or tampered with. Otherwise, it can not be considered a record. And finally, the item can be used to be a source of information throughout its lifecycle.

Once any item matches all these criteria, it can be considered a record in record management.

What are the Components of Records Management?

Unlike the traditional records program, modern-day records management involves a lot of key components to work effectively. That being said, they also come with a significantly bigger impact on the company.

Here are the key components that modern-day records management will have.

Records policy

A record policy involves the definition of record categories, the records to be kept within the category, and their retention periods. This schedule sometimes can also contain sample record types.

The policy also clarifies all the objectives, scopes, and guidelines for the records management program.

Data placement strategy

Once you have the policy in place, you would need to have a strategy on how to execute it properly. This strategy will combine both the policy and the technology in hand to make the whole process more effective.

Employee behaviour change management

Once the strategy is in place, it is time for the organization to check how the employees are reacting to the new change and tools. This component includes,

  • Adoption drives.
  • Consistency test.
  • Compliance demonstration.

Records processes

The organization needs to set up a process that helps classify, dispose and manage the records through an automated process.

Records management organization development

The final component of records management is organization development. Managing records is a massive task that can not be singlehandedly done by one department alone.

You need to make an organization committee for the management that should include,

  • Legal units,
  • IT units.
  • Compliance units.
  • Risk units.
  • HR units.
  • Business units. Audit units.

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What are the benefits of records management?

If you can set up a good record management system, it will offer you numerous benefits from the get-go. Due to the sheer number of benefits, more and more organizations are adopting Records management as a part of their operating system. From enhanced workflows to improved efficiency, records management has it all.

Below is the list of the top benefits of a records management system.

Reduction of storage cost

One of the biggest disadvantages of physical records is the massive amount of storage it requires. But you may think that all of the records are vital for the business and hold essential data to ensure a smooth running of the company.

But in practical life, that is more often not the case. According to the United Nations Archives and records management section, only 5 to 10 per cent of the records provide any significant value for the business.

Now think about how many reports, emails, and files a large-scale organization may have every day. And from all that massive number of records, only a handful is needed to be kept.

And this is exactly where reports management comes into play.

Once an effective records management system is set up, it can offer the organization a chance to only keep hold of the records that are necessary. You can also set up a schedule for how long you want to keep your hands on certain documents. For instance, if you need a legal file only till the end of a specific year, there is no need to carry the storage burden on the following year also.

For the papers, you need to have physical records off; you can keep them in any offshore storage solution. On the other hand, for the documents that need regular checking and use, you can scan and use their digital version on your record management system.

Easy record retrieval

The information on the records you have only offers you benefits if you can have them retrieved right when you need them. And Records information management or RIM enables you to quickly index and organize your records.

This makes the records easily accessible for anyone who needs them and makes the document retrieval process much more straightforward. You can also set up a system where you give specific permission to a specific employee, so they can only access the records they have the clearance for. This allows you to enhance your organizational security and elevates productivity to the next level.

Reducing any litigation risk

By implementing an effective records management system, you can significantly lower the risk of any potential penalties or litigation. Moreover, if you have a thoughtfully designed record management program in place, it will also help you minimize any litigation that is related to document disposal.

Workflow automation

One of the biggest problems with modern-day companies is that they tend to calculate how much time is spent on the storage and searching for records. Most documents are usually stored on-site and are placed very chaotically. As a result, when someone has to locate any specific information, it can take a massive amount of time. This time could be better spent on valuable tasks by the employee.

Moreover, once the retrieval process is complete, the person must go through a refilling process, as the records were very disorganized in the first place.

However, when we deal with a fully optimized record management system, all the data is usually stored in a centralized position. The records are also categorized based on various factors, making it very easy to retrieve them. This automation enables you to accelerate the workflow and help employees cut down on retrieval time.

Empowering business continuity

One of the biggest benefits of using RIM is that it can make sure all the vital asset of your company is presented in a centralized repository. When it comes to modern-day business, information is one of its most significant assets. And nothing can hurt a company more than losing vital information from their system.

Disasters never come knocking at the door. And you never know when a disaster can hit your business and fully compromise all the physically held records forever. Losing such valuable data can make it highly difficult, not impossible, for companies to start over. This is where record management comes into play.

A strategically designed record management policy can protect all the vital data in case of an accident. Moreover, having an electronic record means that you can have both on-site and off-site backups (Sometimes in the cloud) to ensure the continuity of your business.

Morale boost

There are more benefits to record management than we can measure with pen and paper. For instance, we all know that poorly documented records and a chaotic filing system can create a suboptimal work environment. This work environment can significantly damage the morale of all the employees and result in them losing all the motivation to take on new work.

As mentioned before, it is pretty difficult to measure such impact through pen and paper. That being said, we can say without a shred of doubt that it harms morale and productivity by a significant amount. This problem can easily be solved by implementing a records management system.

Offering everyone the confidence of knowing they can have any records they want in hand in a matter of seconds will boost everyone’s feeling toward taking on new challenges in the workplace.

Best practices in records management

In order to get the most out of your records management system, you need to follow the best practices. Here are some of the best practices that we recommend to ensure the best possible outcome.

Defining your business goal

Without having a clear goal in place, it is hard to properly utilize records management. So make sure to have a good framework of goals and needs in place to effectively use records management for the creation, archive, and disposal of records.

Categorization and indexing

It is vital for the organization to know exactly how and where all the information is located. That is why you should properly categorize the records and index them for future use.

Record security

Sixty-eight records are either getting lost or being stolen each second as you read through today’s article. Preventing unauthorized access and protecting the document from fraud or disaster should be one of your biggest priorities.

Employee training

You can not have an effective outcome of your records management system if your employees do not know how to be in line with the records management policy.

Having a records maintenance schedule

To minimize the risk of losing records, you need to have a record maintenance schedule in place. This will determine how long any specific records will be kept and when should they be reviewed or disposed of.

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Why use automated records management system?

In order to tackle the information flood, hiring new employees is never going to be the ultimate solution. As more and more records are being created every single day, it is vital for any organization to use an automated records management system.

Automation takes the hassle out of your hand and offers you unimaginable benefits that you will never have otherwise.

Here are some of the reasons why you should use automated records management system.

1. Can be easily changed with changing compliance frameworks

2. The ability to implement flexible file plans

3. Superior scalability in terms of future research and development activities.

4. Reduced risk of data loss.

5. Improved protection of business records.

6. Reliable performance evaluation.

7. Protection against natural disasters.

8. Reduction of the massive time spent tracking various paper trails

9. Making all the records more easily available on the centralized network.

10. The ability to manage all digital records from a single unified platform.

11. Maintaining proof of integrity.

12. Generating certificates of destruction.


What are records management skills?

As a records manager, you need to have some key skills in order to excel. Some of the top skills you must possess are,

  • Analytical skills.
  • Administrative skills.
  • Organizational skills.
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Patience.
  • Communication skills.

What are the two types of records?

Records can come in many shapes and forms. But the main two types of records are physical records and digital records.

What are the steps of record management?

The main steps of record management are,

  • Creation
  • Modification
  • Maintenance
  • Disposal
  • Archiving.

Final thoughts

That ends our today’s discussion on How automation of records management can impact the performance of your company. In order to tackle the information flood, records management is the only solution that organizations should follow.

And with so many benefits records management brings to the table, the implementation of an effective system within your business is a no-brainer.

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