With 2014 underway, have you set your records management resolutions? Maybe there are things you want to work on immediately and others you want to tackle for ongoing success. No matter what you choose, working toward meeting your resolutions can help reduce the risks, costs and complexity of your organization’s records management program. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Establish a records management team. Since records management is complex, assembling a mix of personnel from a number of different departments or areas is the best solution to ensure everyone is following the same procedures and policies. Plus, having a team of people oversee records management makes it a much more manageable task. Consider a representative from IT, legal, HR, accounting and depending on the company, you may want to include the president, CEO or other leadership members including a third party records manager.
- Set up and apply retention periods. Talk with your legal and accounting staff to determine the length of time to keep specific records. Never assume it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to holding onto documents. During an audit, federal law says they can go through all of your records on hand, regardless of the age. Having a systematic, logical and documented retention policy provides guidelines for handling documents and leaves little room for any speculation relating to the disposition of documents that have passed their retention periods.
- Know when to discard files. When documents have reached their full retention period, it’s critical to securely destroy the records. Shred files whenever possible, including hard copy files, electronic media, hard drives, microfilm and x-rays.
- Ensure your records management program is current. Laws and regulations are extremely dynamic. As a result, a retention schedule can quickly become outdated. Working with your legal staff is a good first step to make sure the program is current.
- Monitor and enforce the program with employees. By staying on top of employee training you can help employees understand the process for appropriately classifying, managing and destroying records. Plus this is a great way to reinforce employee records management responsibilities.
- Review and update the program on a regular basis. If your company hasn’t reviewed its records management program in the past year, now is the perfect time to review the entire program including policies and procedures, retention schedules and destruction processes. Once the review is complete, your records management team can determine areas of focus for future improvements.
What do you plan on making a priority in 2014?
Photo by Dan Moyle