Records Management Policy – A Beginners Guide
Can your Records Management Policy stand on its own two feet?
Records Management Policy is no simple matter, When it comes to running your business compliance or non-compliance with your policy can make or break you.
Understanding Records Management Policy
A core component of your Records and Information Management Programme, RM Policy lays out the road map for implementing and maintaining your RIM Programme. Policy is the ‘what must be done’ part of your programme.
Effective policy is policy that is known, understood and applied. As a records manager or person designated to oversee RM policy it is up to you to make sure policy is known, understood and applied.
When the above is done well, the process of creating, managing and ultimately disposing of records and information can be a smooth one. Additionally, risks to the organisation such as legal actions, information leaks and disasters can be more effectively mitigated.
Good Records Management Policy Starts with Good Planning
Proper planning makes for effective records management policy. If you do not take the time to become familiar with your RIM Programme and determine who policy applies to and why then it is unlikely to be applied correctly if at all.
Sound RM Policy will include the following at the very least:
- Overview – An overview of the policy and its purpose.
- Goal – What is the goal or objective that the policy is trying to achieve. You need to make sure this is clear.
- Reach & Responsibility – The reach or scope of your policy must be made known so that those who it applies to can use it. Application of your policy must also be assigned to individuals.
- Compliance – Compliance monitoring methods should also be part of your policy along with performance measuring where applicable.
It is important to remember that planning is only of value where goals exist. Goals must also be realistic. It is no use setting goals that require tools or personnel that don’t exist.
Create achievable goals that draw on resources that are available or will be available. If you can do this then your policy will be far more successfully implemented.
Records Management Policy Education & Awareness
The key to getting you RM Policy applied is proper education and awareness. In this regard, workshops, seminars and even online training programmes should be developed and run regularly.
In between training sessions, employees should be reminded about the benefits of applying policy as well as key aspects of policy. Email notices, posters, general announcements and other means can also be effective at maintaining awareness.
Additionally, having a dedicated Records Manager or Policy subject matter expert (SME) that employees can turn to for help will improve compliance.
Monitoring Records Management Policy Compliance
You don’t write policy just for the fun of it. It’s not something that you issue to employees saying, “Here’s a little something we typed up, let us know if its of any use to you.”
Records Management Policy is meant to be applied and must never be made to sound ‘optional’. That said, policy is not the same as an ‘order’ and thus its tone must not come across as such. Policy should really be thought of as ‘best practice’. While it must be complied with it must encourage application by communicating the benefits of applying it.
Measuring compliance comes next. Having made it known that policy is to be used, it is important to communicate the fact that measuring compliance by way of audits or other methods will take place in the future.
It is important that both policy and compliance with policy is made known to employees. Regular workshops and education sessions as well as a variety of notices and announcements will help in this regard.