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Create Business Efficiency With Cohesive Records Management

There are two separate aspects to cohesive records management and governance: Document Management and Records Management. To most people these sound like one and the same thing, but to businesses it should be clear that these are two very separate processes. Both are vital to the efficient operation of a company. Here is an overview of what each entail.

Document Management

This is how your office processes paper and electronic information flow. What items are archived physically, and what information is archived electronically. How your filing system works.   How you store emails.   It is important to have a consistent plan in place for all of your employees so that information flow processes can be smooth, efficient and continuous.

Many offices’ filing systems are thrown together by the employee of the month, i.e. there is no cohesive system in place. Document handling may vary from department to department. In some cases it may even vary from office assistant to office assistant. This can be a recipe for disaster when it comes to personnel change or office consolidation, not to mention the day-to-day inefficiencies that this inherently creates.

Studies show that managers waste up to 4 weeks per year waiting for misfiled or lost paper to show up; 70% of retained paper is not necessary for operations or compliance; Up to 5% of all records are misfiled and; Office workers in general waste up to two hours a day looking for misplaced paperwork. It behooves companies to have a stringent and effective Document Management System in place.

Records Management

This is how your office keeps track of and governs the handling of records from the time of their creation to their eventual destruction. Who created the record? When was it created? Who is accessing records? Who is altering records? Are your records compliant with industry standards? Government standards? A comprehensive Records Management System is crucial to a company to ensure that information is handled properly. It will create an audit trail to ensure that accountability is in place.

Where to begin

It makes sense to have document management and records management office standards in place for all employees to follow. This will streamline your information flow processes and create numerous efficiencies in your office. This will create file security and accountability. This will ensure that office information flow processes are continuous and seamless.

This may seem like a daunting task if you’re starting from scratch, but there are resources to help get you going. A comprehensive Document Management plan utilizes common sense outlined by stringent, consistent rules for all employees to follow. To make sure your plan will be effective and complete, you can refer to the guidelines outlined in ISO 14859. This document is easy to understand and covers plan implementation from start to finish.

Records Management is experiencing a transition similar to what Information Technology endured 20 years ago. Before IT had developed into a field serviced by experts, IT solutions were thought up by anyone in an office who showed an aptitude for computers in order to save on costs. This normally resulted in a system that was haphazard, un-secure, and non-scalable. Solutions varied between departments, and were not inter-operable. These systems invariably had a short life span, and were eventually replaced by someone who knew what they were doing.

The same may be seen in Records Management. Systems are being implemented piece meal in a haphazard fashion. There are now experts in the Records Management field that can implement a comprehensive system for you. For help in understanding what a comprehensive Records Management system should entail you can refer to the Department of Defense’s Directive 5015.2. Although you may think that mimicking the DoD’s standards may be over the top, all of their guidelines make perfect sense and are directly transferrable to the business world.

Scanning your documents and implementing an electronic records management system will automatically create many office efficiencies if done correctly. It will track your records’ life cycles. It will increase records security, and it will increase file search capabilities, while drastically cutting down on search times.

Remember, documents are one of a business’ most valuable and overlooked resources. They are a business’ lifeblood. Proper and efficient care of your documents can be the difference between profitability and disaster.

Steve Geldermann is director of operations for BizDoc Storage