I am quickly discovering that managing records is absolutely not the same as records management. It is astonishing to me, and probably to you, the number of records that any one person can create in their day to day activities is staggering.
• What do we do with all these records?
• Where do we store them?
• How long do we need to store them?
• Do they require any special security?
• Is this document required for evidentiary purposes?
• Does it involve a business decision and will be required for audit purposes?
• Does it include any sensitive personal information (SPI)?
• Who, in your company, knows about records retention and destruction?
When you send that email that tells someone to go ahead with a job or task, you may need to keep that as evidence of the instruction. An excellent resource for understanding Retention and Destruction Authorities (RDA) is the Public Records Office of Victoria (PROV) and the link below will take you to all the current RDAs.
These are questions and ideas I did not previously think about, but these are questions we all need to think about as we create and save these records. One of the main ways to be able to successfully manage records is to have a category structure that is logical, easy to understand and above all simple. In my current role I have developed category structures for an organisation that has Scientific, Medical, Academic and Administrative records, and believe me it has been very tricky. To try to accommodate records for all of these areas required a great deal of thought and investigation. The important place to start is to understand the environment I am working in, understand the people who use these systems and understand the goals of the organisation. Most important to this task has been talking to the people who use the system, asking their opinions, putting forward my thoughts and asking them, “Will that work for you?” Any kind of change can be frightening, frustrating and annoying when you have been working a particular way for a very long time so to avoid these kinds of negative feelings it is vital to include the users in the decision making process, give them a sense of ownership of the process and show them how much easier the new system will be once it has been adopted. It also helps if the people sitting at the top are also open to these changes and, fortunately for me, these people have been really supportive and even excited by the positive changes that are underway. Stay tuned for my next instalment where the new category structure is rolled out to all the departmental shared servers.