Records Management: Keeping Business Records Safe, Secure, and Organized

Learn about the importance of good records management, the types of records you should keep, and how to store and organize them safely.

manager inspecting databases for records management

Published 1 Sep 2022

What is Records Management?

Records Management is a method of managing information from creation to disposal, regardless of format, and it entails its creation, maintenance, receipt, and deletion procedures. In other words, records management refers to proper data handling—from inception to termination.

What is Considered a “Record?”

A record is any information kept in hard or soft copy as proof of, or utilized in, an organization’s transactions. Final reports, budget papers, company balance sheets, emails referring to an activity, field mission maps, etc., are a few examples of records.

Benefits of Records Management

Among the significant advantages of records management are:

Lower Storage Costs

Although your company may have many documents, emails, and business reports, only a fraction of them will be critical. The best way to manage these records is to keep only the most valuable documents and dispose of the rest. The system helps to optimize data storage space and information storage.

Ensure Regulatory Compliance

There are numerous regulations in place that govern how effectively records should be kept in an organization. Noncompliance might result in significant legal consequences and penalties. You may easily follow compliance rules and avoid fines by having good records management.

Protect Vital Information

Like any other enterprise, every company has critical information that it must guard and avoid falling into the wrong hands. You can’t safeguard and keep the integrity of your vital data if you can’t manage it properly. Records management may assist you in organizing information and keeping you safe from data loss vulnerability.

Efficient Retrieval of Records

Records can be instrumental when appropriately kept. When you use a robust document management system to store and retrieve information whenever you want, your records become more valuable. Better access to data improves decision-making capabilities for businesses.

Easy Automation of Workflow

When your records are disorganized, you will waste time storing and looking for data. A records management system can make the whole process quicker and more automated.

What is Electronic Records Management System and its Benefits?

Electronic Records Management (ERM) is the administration of files and documents saved in digital format. It ensures that a company has access to the appropriate records at the time they are required. By automating processes, digitally storing documents can increase efficiency.

An ERM system has many benefits, including:

  • ERM software helps you quickly identify, classify, store and retrieve your records. The software can also automatically capture document metadata, making the process simpler and faster.
  • With electronic records, you can find the correct information when you need it. Rather than searching through physical records, you can find the information you need online. Everything is stored electronically.
  • Electronically stored data makes it easy to access past information. It makes it easy to understand past decisions and make new decisions based on them.
  • You can easily comply with regulations when using ERM systems. Automated storage and disposition of records will help you prove compliance and keep your business running smoothly.

Types of Records

There are several various classifications based on the services provided by each record. The following are some of the most frequent types:

Physical Records

These are physical representations of data stored on various media, such as notes and papers, and these records take up actual room.

Electronic Records

An electronic record is a document created and kept using technology. It may be saved digitally and doesn’t require much physical room.

Enterprise Records

These are records that concern a firm’s operations. Enterprise papers include contracts, agreements, payroll records, and so on.

Industry Records

These records are concerned with the operation of a particular sector. Medical industry records, for example, include paper and research materials relevant to the entire industry.

Legal Hold Records

Maintaining these requirements is a legal requirement. Legal hold records are those in which the rules regarding conformance standards are considered legal obligations.

Components of Records Management

There are several components of records management, and these include the following:

Policies and Procedures

The first step in a records management system is to establish its boundaries. You’ll need rules to define authority levels and responsibilities at various process phases. It is also essential to provide detailed instructions for implementing the policies.

Records Retention Schedule

Some records have long retention periods, while others have short lifespans. The minimum duration a record should stay in an organization is indicated by this timetable.

Records Filing System

Maintaining and filing documents should be part of a plan. Records may be stored digitally or physically, referred to as digital or physical records. It indicates the significance of the record as well.

Training and Auditing

It’s not just a one-person responsibility to keep records. To do the job, you’ll need a team of competent individuals. To guarantee their effectiveness, you must teach them regularly and perform routine audits to verify that they’re functioning correctly.

Phases of Records Lifecycle

Records Lifecycle is the process that records go through from creation to disposal. It is a system used to manage records so that they are easily accessible, secure, and can be disposed of when they are no longer needed. The Records Lifecycle typically has five stages: creation, maintenance, retrieval, disposal, and archival. The stages in the lifecycle have distinct roles, and each stage must meet its goals for the lifecycle to continue. The following phases are described in more detail:

  1. Create (Receive) – A record is required if you want to keep track of it yourself or obtain it from an external source. The record might be in any form, including paper records, digital forms, emails, reports, etc.
  2. Use (Modify) – Frequently used reports are kept on-site for rapid access to records. Other reports are stored off-site and utilized as needed.
  3. Maintain (Protect) – This stage establishes the length of time a document must be kept and maintained. You need to make sure it is under data retention rules.
  4. Dispose (Destroy) – When a record has served its function, it is either disposed of or archived. You can securely destroy a record once you’re sure you no longer need it.
  5. Archive (Preserve) – After you’ve removed non-critical documents, you must decide which inactive records have permanent value and archive them.
Robertson Paredes

SafetyCulture staff writer

Rob Paredes

Rob Paredes is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. He is a content writer who also does copy for websites, sales pages, and landing pages. Rob worked as a financial advisor, a freelance copywriter, and a Network Engineer for more than a decade before joining SafetyCulture. He got interested in writing because of the influence of his friends; aside from writing, he has an interest in personal finance, dogs, and collecting Allen Iverson cards.

Rob Paredes is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. He is a content writer who also does copy for websites, sales pages, and landing pages. Rob worked as a financial advisor, a freelance copywriter, and a Network Engineer for more than a decade before joining SafetyCulture. He got interested in writing because of the influence of his friends; aside from writing, he has an interest in personal finance, dogs, and collecting Allen Iverson cards.