Introduction to Effective Record Keeping

Good records management is essential for any corporate body to function effectively. What is records management? Records management is the systematic control of an organisation's records, throughout their life cycle, in order to meet operational business needs, statutory and fiscal requirements, and community expectations.

Why is records management necessary?

Information is every organisation's most basic and essential asset, and in common with any other business asset, recorded information requires effective management. Records management ensures information can be accessed easily, can be destroyed routinely when no longer needed, and enables organisations not only to function on a day to day basis, but also to fulfil legal and financial requirements. Modern society has rising expectations concerning the accessibility of information. People now expect efficient and speedy responses to requests for information, and a policy of 'open government' has been followed and developed by several successive governments.

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Records must be securely maintained to prevent unauthorised access, alteration, damage or removal. They must be stored in a secure environment, the degree of security reflecting the sensitivity and importance of the contents

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The benefits of records management

Systematic management of records allows organisations to: know what records they have, and locate them easily increase efficiency and effectiveness make savings in administration costs, both in staff time and storage support decision making be accountable achieve business objectives and targets provide continuity in the event of a disaster meet legislative and regulatory requirements, particularly as laid down by the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act and the Data Protection Act protect the interests of employees, clients and stakeholders

The principles of good records management

The guiding principle of records management is to ensure that information is available when and where it is needed, in an organised and efficient manner, and in a well maintained environment. Organisations must ensure that their records are:

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Authentic
It must be possible to prove that records are what they purport to be and who created them, by keeping a record of their management through time. Where information is later added to an existing document within a record, the added information must be signed and dated. With electronic records, changes and additions must be identifiable through audit trails.

Accurate Records :must accurately reflect the transactions that they document.

Accessible Records must be readily available when needed.

Complete Records must be sufficient in content, context and structure to reconstruct the relevant activities and transactions that they document.

Comprehensive Records must document the complete range of an organisation's business.

Compliant Records must comply with any record keeping requirements resulting from legislation, audit rules and other relevant regulations.

Effective Records must be maintained for specific purposes and the information contained in them must meet those purposes. Records will be identified and linked to the business process to which they are related.

Secure Records must be securely maintained to prevent unauthorised access, alteration, damage or removal. They must be stored in a secure environment, the degree of security reflecting the sensitivity and importance of the contents. Where records are migrated across changes in technology, the evidence preserved must remain authentic and accurate.

Source

http://www.nas.gov.uk/recordkeeping/r...
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The definition of 'document' and 'record' In records management it is important to be clear about the difference between a document and a recort. Some documents will need to be kept as evidence of business transactions, routine activities or as a result of legal obligations, such as policy documents. These should be placed into an official filing system and at this point, they become official records. In other words, all records start off as documents, but not all documents will ultimately become records.

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