Records Management is the name given to a process involving the creation, maintenance, use, and disposal of records to aid in the achievement of efficient business practices and regulatory compliance. Records Management is concerned with making sure that what needs to be kept as a record is retained, but also prescribing how long it should be kept, where it should be stored, who has access to it, and when it should be destroyed (if ever).
Records management programs manage University information so that it is timely, accurate, cost-effective, accessible, and useable. Proper records management practices give birth to “File Management”; which takes the practices of a University’s records management program and applies them to individual campus offices. All these components of a Records Management Program carry with it several benefits that aid the University in achieving its stated Mission.
Benefits of a Records Management Program
Proper records management is something that all Universities need; though it may take considerable amounts of time and energy to develop the proper system and gather dedicated resources needed to maintain the system over time, there are many benefits to a Records Management Program. We’ve listed the Top 10 benefits a Records Management Program can bring to the University (Adapted from Ten Business Reasons for Records Management in Information and Records Management: Document-based Information Systems, Robek, Brown, Stephens, 1995.):
- To control the Creation and Growth of Records: As we so often do in our personal life, hold onto more than what we need; we also tend to do the same within the business structure. An efficient records management program assists the University in organizing and identifying which records are needed for day-to-day operations and which can legally be disposed of. In addition, it keeps records from being improperly disposed of.
- To preserve the Memory of the University: In today’s business environment turnover is inevitable. To ensure that once an employee leaves the University, the important information they hold doesn’t leave with them, a proper records management Program will prevent an information crisis from taking place.
- To Reduce Operating Cost & Space: Recordkeeping requires administrative dollars for filing equipment, space in offices, and staffing to maintain an organized filing system. By maintaining an efficient records management program, Universities are able to reduce cost and utilize their financial resources towards furthering the schools mission and objectives.
- To support better Management Decision Making: A records management program can help ensure that executives and directors have the information they need when they need it. By implementing a University-wide file management program, executives can gather and assemble pertinent information from different departments quickly in order to facilitate current decisions and future business planning purposes.
- To ensure Regulatory Compliance
- To minimize Litigation Risk: Records management programs reduce the risks associated with litigation and potential penalties. In the event proceedings are initiated, the appropriate records can be easily and quickly located to ensure a speedy resolution.
- To improve Efficiency and Productivity: The orderly and efficient flow of information enables the University to perform its functions successfully. As noted previously, an efficient records management program “reduces operating cost” and “supports management decision making”; time and money spent on searching for records directly prevents a University from utilizing its resources properly and where need the most.
- To Safeguard Vital Information: Operated as part of the overall records management program, vital records management preserve the integrity and confidentiality of the University’s most important records and safeguards the vital information assets according to a "Plan" to protect the records.
- To Control the Creation and Destruction of Records: An effective records management program addresses both creation control (limits the generation of records or copies not required to operate the business) and records retention (a system for destroying useless records or retiring inactive records), thus stabilizing the growth of records in all formats.
- To Foster Professionalism in Running the University: Professionalism is portrayed in many different ways. An effective records management program allows employees to focus on the most important task at hand and deliver results that move the University forward.