The Importance of Records Management

The Importance of Records Management

We can’t deny the fact that records do rule this world. Papers, files, and documents are ubiquitous not just in the workplace but also at home. Monthly bills, letters, contracts, and all kinds of written communication can be classified as records, especially if they are used, stored and secured.

Given the advent of technology where most communication is done through e-mails, online forums and social networking sites, information or data shared through these mediums are also referred to as records. It’s not surprising therefore, that many businesses count e-mails as a legit and valid form of record to support business transactions. Simply put, a record is an evidence of a business or personal event.

It is safe to say that proper records management or what is defined as “the classifying, storing, securing, destruction, and in some cases, the archival preservation of records” is crucial for everything - business and households; professional and personal communication; and generally, for the purpose of evidence. Records management is all about the maintaining of records from start to finish – from the composition of materials to their eventual disposal.

Nothing in this world is permanent. As the wise (and the perpetually optimistic people) say, change is the spice of life. That notion also embraces the practice of records storage and management. What was once the simplicity of filing cabinets, folders and boxes, and warehouses and basements is now a web of complexity. There are even government policies and regulations concerning records management. A good example is the Gramm-Leach-Biley Act (GLBA), also known as the Financial Modernization Act of 1999, which protects consumers’ financial information held by financial institutions, namely banks, insurance companies, securities firms and other companies offering financial services and products to consumers. Another such government policy is The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA), a bill that was passed in Congress in 2003. FACTA is an amendment to FCRA or the Fair Credit Reporting Act that helps consumers fight identity theft. Privacy, accuracy, limited information disclosure, and consumer rights are included in the legislation.

There you go…records are no longer just contained in a box, and literally too. The government being proactive towards records management to ensure that consumer and business records are kept safe and secure is something! Records management is of grave importance, especially concerning confidential files. These government regulations exist to make the records storage industry more efficient.

The complexities in record management continue with the on-going developments in technology. As mentioned, e-mails and other digital information are a big part of the records management industry. Travel back in time to 15 or 20 years ago and it was not unusual to have every record on paper. Typewritten, handwritten or in shorthand. Hard copies were the royalty. This is no longer the case as you might well have noticed. A piece of paper, a contract for instance, is now just the other half of the equation. Securing a record means managing both the tangible and the digital; the piece of paper and the file saved in the computer's hard drive. Records management has made imaging, e-mail archiving and data recovery a virtual storage place, much like an e-warehouse for all your information.

This is not to say that you should say goodbye to the piles of paper in the office or start organizing garage sales to do away with the filing cabinets. Records management includes the same accuracy, organization and security with tangible evidences or records. This is when off-site storage facilities enter the picture.

Professionals in the records management take care of physical records in their facilities that are secured and monitored under strict surveillance. Trained records management practitioners make sure that records are safe, secure and also accessible by their respective companies.

Records management has come a long way and has more miles to go, that’s for sure. With the number of business and personal records growing each day due to technology, primarily e-mails and attachments, records management will sure be a busy bee…and a highly crucial one for many. Perhaps in the coming years, the digital storage would evolve into microchips that would spare nothing, from the most confidential business transactions to the very personal medical records. Even that is records management.

One thing’s for certain. Records in a box has had a major makeover.

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