What is Records and Information Management?
Making sense of data management in an ever-changing environment
Before the advent of the ‘Digital Universe’, Records and Information Management revolved around indexing, filing, and storing hard-copy paper records. The creation and use of electronic documents and data today is an inescapable fact, and this means that Records and Information Management has had to evolve.
The Need for Records and Information Management Programmes
In 2012, a report by the International Data Corporation (IDC) titled IDC Predictions 2013: Competing on the 3rd Platform, estimated that “The ‘digital universe’ —the total of all digital data created (and replicated)—will reach 4ZB in 2013, almost 50 percent more than 2012 volumes, and nearly a quadrupling of 2010 volumes.” In fact, they further stated that these figures were almost certainly an underestimation.
How much digital information does your company create alongside its paper records? How are you going to manage that information as it expands? What are the cost and security implications of this data?
The fact is every single day your employees create more digital data and store it using an ever-growing list of electronic formats. This means that eventually, managing all this data properly is going to become a necessity it is not already.
Effective Records and Information Management
Managing records and information effectively requires that technology and people work together. The technology comes in the form of proper management systems that help you to automate your records and information organisation and retrieval. While clearly defined governance procedures guide people to use this technology correctly.
The Components of Records and Information Management
Off-site record storage
The continued growth of electronic data does not mean your hard-copy paper records are obsolete. Legislation will still require you to retain a wide range of records. Thus, the use of an off-site record storage facility that meets industry security standards is necessary.
Paper to electronic conversion
Ensuring your paper records are available in the future and protected from any number of possible disasters means having them scanned. Of course, document scanning is just a part of the process, which includes proper indexing and data storage that allows your records to be easily accessed.
Data backups and off-site data storage
Whether you employ five people or a hundred, they are going to create high volumes of electronic data. This data comes in many forms and may be stored across notebooks, pcs, servers, and other devices. Controlling access to and protecting this data is vital to the safety, well-being, and productivity of your business. Thus, utilising data backup technology and storing backup copies at an off-site data storage facility is a smart idea.
Information organisation and tracking
Without proper organisation and the ability to locate your documents easily your records and information management programme would not work. Effective utilisation of file-tracking software to manage your filing system and track document movements helps ensure the success of your programme.
Training and education
At the heart of any records and information management programme are the people who make up your organisation. Technology and software are only as effective as the people using them are. This means correct training and on-going education in the processes and procedures is necessary to ensure the success of your programme.
Document storage media
Both paper and electronic documents and data need to be stored using some sort of storage media. Some of the document storage products you may require include archiving boxes, files, data tapes, and hard drives.
Destruction of records
At some point in time, your data will need to be disposed of, this applies to both paper and electronic documents. Disposal of your records should follow a proper disposal schedule, and be done properly and securely to prevent data leaks that could harm your business. Whether you opt for on-site destruction or prefer off-site disposal you should select a competent partner.
There is no one-size-fits-all records and information management programme. Every business will have its own unique needs and requirements. What is certain is that any effective programme will include a number of customisable components designed to handle specific functions while working together. Additionally, good programmes will need to be flexible enough to evolve as technology and legislative changes arise.
With the above in mind, the need for careful planning and regular programme review becomes apparent.
Iron Mountain is among South Africa’s industry leaders in Records and Information Management, and the only records management company in Africa to make use of three key risk management technologies:
- VESDA – Very Early Warning Aspirating Smoke Detection (ASD)
- RFID (Radio-frequency identification) barcode tracking
- VAMSA – (Video Alarm Monitoring) security system.
Talk to Iron Mountain today, about how we can effectively help you implement your own programmes.
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