Katie Burke, Senior Government Program Strategist, Laserfiche
Records management is again in the spotlight after the Office of Inspector General released a report evaluating the State Department’s poor recordkeeping processes. This report pointed out the bulk of government agencies suffer from the same ailments — outdated records management policies and procedures, and ranking records management as low on organizations’ list of priorities.
The implications of not addressing weaknesses in a records management program can be costly, even for organizations that aren’t responsible for managing and retaining emails containing top-secret information. With complicated retention schedules and the looming possibility of an audit always present, records management involves far greater effort than making sure documents are filed in a safe place. Here are three major records management challenges facing organizations and ways to overcome them.
Making Records Easily Accessible
Locating records in a timely manner is easier said than done, especially when searching for information across an enterprise. Organizations can simplify records searches by:
- digitizing records so that they are viewable on computers or mobile devices
- applying metadata to records, so that they are instantly searchable by record type, date, author or desired data
- using saved searches to quickly perform routine searches
For example, the Town of Palm Beach, FL uses enterprise content management (ECM) to easily find records associated with revenue bond documents. The system assigns an informational tag to each bond document, and searching by that tag returns all documents related to the bond.
Complying With Retention Schedules
Organizations have a wide range of record retention schedules to comply with based on the industry they are in and the type of records they manage. Regulatory agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, and the U.S. Department of Labor — among others — can impose strict fines for failing to follow the rules.
Organizations can use electronic records management systems to enforce consistent, organization-wide policies including:
- auto-filing newly created records according to industry regulations and corporate policies
- automatically retaining, transferring and archiving records based on record type
- grouping records in series based on retention and disposition schedules
D.L. Evans Bank, which manages over $1.2 billion in assets and has dozens of branches and offices across Idaho, can’t afford to make mistakes with its record management procedures, which are heavily regulated by FDIC rules. ECM software has improved D.L. Evans’ records retention by standardizing how records are kept and updated.
Retention rules notify compliance officers when a policy document needs to be updated and versioning shows policy reviewers if they are working with the most up-to-date copy of a document. “The fact that automation can standardize procedures and processes is a major reason to do it,” says D.L. Evans IT Director Gerardo Munoz of implementing ECM software.
Preparing For Audits
Throughout the records management cycle, organizations are constantly subject to audits. They need to prove to regulators they retain records in compliance with their legal retention schedules. To simplify audit preparation, organizations can use ECM to:
- monitor system events, including login and logout, document creation and destruction, and password changes
- log user actions taken on smartphones and tablets
- generate audit reports that specify the time, user, and actions associated with all system modifications
For example, investment advisory firm Hanson McClain easily prepares for audits by using ECM to track the creation, deletion, and modification of the documents stored in the repository. Even if a document is deleted, IT can still locate it, find out who deleted it, and restore it in the repository.
Records managers are on the front lines of managing risk for their organizations — and they’ve got their work cut out for them. Managing records in an electronic format is the most secure way to ensure that every document in your archive is maintained in both a compliant and easily retrieved format.
About The Author
Katie Burke is Senior Government Program Strategist for Laserfiche, an enterprise content management software company which provides intuitive solutions for capture, electronic forms, workflow, case management, cloud, mobile, and government-certified records management.