Managing information in the form of corporate data, documents and records is arguably one of the most crucial activities for any organization and its employees. Organizations depend on information to make critical strategic decisions, serve customers, protect legal rights, and process transactions. Most large companies even create entire departments to maximize the value of that information, and help employees quickly and easily access it to make better decisions.
While most organizations recognize the value of effectively managing information, many of them do not dedicate the necessary resources to an important subset of this activity – maintaining effective records information management systems − despite the fact that successful records programs are critical for effectual governance, risk management, reputation protection and strategic decision making. When organizations fail to enact a thorough records management policy, they risk severe penalties for not producing pertinent information when requested, and could be held liable for damages suffered by the corporation or any third party who relied on the documents. This failure to maintain substantive procedures can end up causing severe financial pain and damage to corporate reputations. Under certain legislation, formidable monetary fines could be levied on anyone who advertently or inadvertently alters, destroys, falsifies or covers up entries in records or documents.
Not only is it considered an industry best practice to retain vital records as part of a business continuity plan and to limit the amount of time that is spent searching for data, but there have been several legal decisions issued specifically for records management compliance. The technological training and operational complexities of records management can be daunting, however, and as a result, many information technology professionals are often left in the dark about how to proceed. When handled properly though, information and records management programs can be entirely symbiotic, creating exponentially synergistic cross-program value and risk mitigation.
In part two of this series I’ll focus on defining a record and highlight why maintaining records is such a complex activity. In the meantime, for more information on records-related topics such as managing electronic documents and records management center best practices, feel free to visit http://www.ocesolutions.com.