Records management means the planning, controlling, directing, organizing, training, promoting, and other managerial activities involved with respect to records creation, maintenance, use, and disposition in order to achieve proper documentation. According to the Federal Records Act a record is, “recorded information, regardless of medium or characteristics, made or received by an organization that is evidence of its operations and has value requiring its retention for a specific period of time. ” (Priscilla Emery, 2005).
Moreover, record management is the practice of identifying, classifying, archiving, preserving, and sometimes destroying records. There is an International Standard on records management, ISO 15489: 2001. This defines record management as 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 record. (Ismael D. Tabije, 2007).
Besides that, according to Laurier Varendorff (2003): “records management is a core business activity, without which, no organization, however large or small, can sustain its operational activities, its moral responsibilities, or can document proof of meeting its statutory, legal, financial or shareholder responsibilities, or provide for its history. It is the foundation stone on which all organizations are built and, without which, they cannot operate effectively or efficiently. It is A, or THE core business activity and not an add-on, which we are forced to implement by threat of penalties, or embarrassment.
Records Management is good management practice and should be at the forefront of any executive mindset as a strategy for best practice, so as to provide efficient, effective and cost minimization initiatives. Without effective Records Management systems in place, inefficient and ineffective decision-making will be made, and remade, with mistakes repeated without the availability of a reliable decision-making information base from which to start to appropriately manage any situation. Efficient Records Management will provide returns in proportion to the effectiveness of the Records Management system in place”.
According to the journal written by Johanna Gunnlaugsdottir (2002), she wrote about origin and construction of the standard. The origin of the standard can be traced back to the year 1996, but on February 5 1996, the Australians published the first standard on records management. Moreover, the Australian standard was written for Australia, but it immediately received international attention. It soon became apparent that there was not universal agreement on all the concepts.
For example, New Zealand does not embrace the Australians’ concept of the records “continuum” which assumes that a record remains active until it is destroyed, as opposed to the “life-cycle” concept which differentiates between active and stored documents. Secondly, she wrote about the scope of the standard. The scope of the standard covers records management in all organizations, large or small, public or private. It applies to records in any format and on any media. Records have 3 distinctive characteristics. Electronic records have three attributes (Mornizan Yahya at all, 2006).
They have content which refers to content of a record and must be linked to the metadata which are necessary to document the other two characteristics, that is the structure (the format and relationship between the elements comprising the record) and the context in which the record was created, receive or used, that is when and by whom and under which circumstances, and what links there are to other documents making up the total record. Moreover, organization need to create record that are authentic, that is not forged and truly created or sent by the person purported to have created or sent them and at the given time.
Reliable, that is their content can be trusted as a full and accurate account of the transaction, activity or facts to which they attest and can be depended upon. Integral or whole, that is complete and unaltered. Useable or useful, that is capable of being used and in order to be used, the record needs to be located, retrieved, presented and interpreted.
The standard is divided into 11 chapters or sections which are Scope, Normative references, Terms and definitions, Benefits of records management, Regulatory environment, Policy and responsibility, Records management requirement, Design and implementation of a records system, Records management processes and controls, Monitoring and auditing, and lastly is training. She also wrote about the benefits of records management. There are 6 benefits of record management in this journal. First is to manage the organization in an efficient and accountable way. Records preserve historical accounts for the next generation and also act as a proof of business actions. Secondly is to manage risk by insuring that the organization can survive despite events of disaster.
Thirdly is an initiative in quality and environmental management. Good records management is necessary if organizations are to fulfill the demands of the standards and environmental standards. Fourthly is Protection of interests. Records can provide support and protection in litigation directed against the organization, and can show that the organization has followed the appropriate rules and acted in a responsible manner. Fifth is to meet demands made by law. Records which meet the requirements of the standard are proof that the organization follows the law and meets regulatory requirements and codes of conduct.
Sixth is to meet the wishes of customers and needs of employees. Records management makes it easier for an organization to provide a good service in a consistent manner. Next she wrote about principles of records management programs. There are 8 principles in records management program. First principle, it must be determined which records should be created and what information they must contain. Second, the form and structure of created and captured records must be determined and what technologies will be used for that purpose. Third, what metadata need to be created and linked to these records must be decided.
Fourth, the requirements for retrieving, using and transmitting records between different users must be determined and for how long records must be kept to satisfy that need. Fifth, it is important to organize the records collection in such a way that records management is facilitated and records made accessible, without permitting unauthorized access. Sixth, Records must also be kept in a safe and secure environment, but should only be retained as long as they are required by the organization or have to be retained by law. Seventh, the risk of not being able to retrieve authoritative records regarding events or transactions must be assessed.
Lastly, it is important to identify opportunities for improvement resulting in greater effectiveness and efficiency of processes and procedures. In addition, she wrote about design and implementation of a records system. There are 5 characteristics of a good records system. First is reliability. The system needs to capture routinely all records which are part of it, and organize them in accordance with the nature of the business, protect them from unauthorized changes or disposition and be a primary source of information about the documented transactions. The records need to be accessible and tied to their metadata. Second is integrity.
To insure that the records are not destroyed, altered, removed or accessed by unauthorized parties controls such as access monitoring, user verification, authorized destruction and security has to be implemented. Third is compliance. The system should the managed in accordance with the expectations of the organization and the community which it is a part and comply with their needs and regulations. Fourth is comprehensive. The system should cover the total organization which it serves. Lastly is systematic. Record should be created, maintained and managed systematically. There are 5 guidelines in designing and implementing a records system.
First is preliminary investigation. During this step, information is gathered to gain an understanding of the administrative, legal, business and social context in which the organization exists to differentiate those factors which influence its need to create and maintain records. Second is analysis of the economic activity which the organization pursues. The standard uses, however, the more narrow term business activity which it then defines to embrace not only commercial activity, but also public administration, non-profit organizations and other activities. Third is the identification of requirements for records.
The nature of the economic activity and outside demands dictated by the social environment produces different needs for an organization to create, receive and maintain records. There are 4 documents of identification of requirements. First is listing of the various sources producing records pertaining to the organization. Second is another listing of the various demands made on records management in the organization by itself, the legislature or society in general. Third is a risk analysis of the importance of records for the organization. Fourth is a formal report to management on the needs of the organization to maintain records.
The next step is assessment of existing systems. Most organizations have some sort of a records management system. During this step the records management requirements are compared to the existing system. Fifth step, the identification of strategies for satisfying records requirements. What is needed most often is a uniform file classification system based on subject matter. Sixth is the design of a records system. The most complicated work and the most time consuming is to design a uniform file classification plan for the organization. Seventh is the implementation of a records system.
Many organization fail on this test. Nothing happens of itself. The system must be put into use and the work force must be trained on how to work in the system and how to use it to the greatest advantage. Lastly is the post-implementation review. What is involved is to measure the performance of the records system, assess where improvements are needed and take the necessary corrective action. Lastly she wrote about records management processes and controls. There are 4 important records management tools. First is a uniform file classification plan which is written with the nature and functions of the organization in mind.
Second is a retention and disposition schedule which determines for how long records are to be kept, how they shall be stored, and when and how they shall be disposed of. Third is an access and security plan which covers who will have access to specified records, how the records collection shall be maintained and what records fall under contingency planning and must be copied for security reasons and the copy kept offsite. Fourth is a thesaurus or an index is also often composed in order to facilitate the selection of the subject for records. There are 5 main work processes in records management.
First is records capture. This is the process of deciding which records are to be made and kept. Second is registration. It offers proof that a record has been created and or captured into the records system. Third is storage conditions should be such that records are protected against organization access, theft and untimely destruction by man or nature. Fourth is use and tracking. It is necessary to be able to locate records which are in use, what is their status and who is acting upon them. Lastly is implementing disposition. Only historic documents and records vital to the organization are preserved permanently.