Records Management Policy – What should it contain? Part 1
While your Records Management Policy may be different to that of other organisations, there are a few key items it should include.
Many organisations around the country have little if any Records Management Policy in place. In today’s business environment it is vital that you do put a policy in place to govern and manage how your organisation handles its records and information.
Besides the obvious benefits of creating a smoother more efficient working environment through better document management, a good, well thought out Records Management Policy will improve your compliance with legislation.
If you have been keeping up with technology trends, business news and South Africa’s evolving legislation landscape, you will know that compliance is hard enough as it is. Thus, to operate a business with no Records Management Policy in place is like playing chicken with an angry bull.
To help you avoid that angry bull and get that red target market off your back, we’ve put together some ideas of what your policy documents should contain.
What your Records Management Policy document should cover
One of the first sections within your policy document is the one dealing with your Objectives.
To create a policy with no objectives is pointless as there will be no way to measure its effectiveness and most importantly you will have nothing to aim for.
Since records serve as evidence of business activities and transactions, it makes sense that among your objectives you list the creation of records for such purposes.
Additionally, you should include objectives that deal with access to records, correct classification of records, and the safe storage of your records.
Inspection of records, retention periods and secure destruction of records should also feature prominently in your Objectives section of your policy document.
You do not need to be verbose about how you write down your objectives, simple to the point descriptions should suffice.
Policy Values or Principles
For every Objective you can think of, there is an underlying reason for including it. These reasons can be stated as the core Values or Principles of your Records Management Policy.
Among these Values you might want to include:
- Minimise data loss, destruction or access by unauthorised persons of organisational and client information
- Improve legal compliance with the laws of the country
- Enhance the productive flow of information and records within the organisation
- To document business processes and transactions thus creating ‘Big Data’ which gives important business insights that can be used for optimisation of various aspects of your business.
No matter the size or industry of your business, there should be numerous Values or Principles you can consider for inclusion in your Records Management Policy document.
How do you go about implementing your policy, what is its application scope?
Your next section should answer these questions. Does your policy cover your entire organisation or is it specific to certain departments? Does it cover all record types or specific ones?
It is vitally important that you take the time to work out what your policy covers in terms of organisation structure, record types both paper and electronic. Provisions should also be made for authority issues, records disposal, filling systems and storage procedures.
This section will require a fair amount of effort, but without some thought, your Policy will be on shaky ground, so take your time and get it right.
In Part 2 of this article, we will take a look at a few more important sections to include in your Records Management Policy document, so be sure to subscribe to our blog updates so you don’t miss it.
- Records Management Policy – What should it contain? Part 2
- Records Management Policy – What should it contain? Part 3
Iron Mountain is one of Southern Africa’s leading Records and Information Management Companies. For more information or to book a consultation please contact us today.
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