Key Elements of a Strong Records Management Strategy

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Good records management is essential for any business, regardless of size. A comprehensive records management strategy helps organizations comply with legal requirements, protect confidential information, and ensure the accuracy and completeness of their documents.

A strong records management strategy includes a variety of tasks and objectives designed to improve the ease of secure access, retention policies, and destruction protocols for your company’s sensitive information. A robust records management plan offers more than just protection and systematic management of information. Businesses can reap the benefits in terms of cost savings, improved compliance, better decision-making capabilities, and greater customer satisfaction.

Here’s a look at how to create a strong records management strategy for your business.

Building Your Records Management System

To ensure that important records are easily accessible and properly managed, an effective records management strategy is key. As you begin building your system, consider these elements.

Records Classification System

Establish a classification system for managing documents and other records to help ensure that documents are stored in organized, logical locations by following these steps.

  1. Identify the key elements of the records that need to be tracked, such as document type, date created/modified, author, etc.
  2. Design a system that organizes records into logical categories and sub-categories (e.g., by document type or content).
  3. Assign a unique identifier or reference number to each record so it can be easily tracked and retrieved.
  4. Develop rules and processes for how documents should be stored, accessed, and destroyed based on their category and associated legal requirements (e.g., privacy regulations).
  5. Set up mechanisms for monitoring document storage, usage, and retrieval processes for compliance with relevant policies/laws.

Document Retention Policies

Document retention policies help ensure that records and information are retained for the appropriate period of time, based on legal and business requirements. These policies should clearly define requirements for the various types of information that your business regularly manages including personnel and client information, financial records, proprietary data, and any personally identifiable information.

When establishing your retention policies be sure to include:

  • A list of documents that should be retained and the length of time they should be kept.
  • Clear definitions of what constitutes a “record” and how documents can be identified and tracked throughout their lifecycle.
  • Guidelines on how to store, access, process, and dispose of records in accordance with organizational policies and legal requirements (e.g., privacy regulations).
  • Procedures for verifying the accuracy and completeness of records prior to destruction or archiving.
  • Protocols for monitoring document storage, usage, destruction, and retrieval processes for compliance with relevant policies/laws.

Define Security and Access Controls in Your Records Management Plan

One of the key components of a strong records management plan is the attention placed on access and security measures to maintain the integrity of your information. Take the time to establish security protocols focused on ensuring that only authorized personnel have access to confidential data.

Establishing Access Controls

In many cases, access controls are divided into two main categories: logical and physical access controls. Logical access controls include authentication measures such as passwords, biometrics, and two-factor authentication. Physical access controls involve physical barriers such as locks, CCTV cameras, and alarm systems.

Other types of access control include role-based access control (RBAC), which restricts users’ ability to view or modify certain data or documents based on their role in the organization, and discretionary access control (DAC), which defines who has the right to grant or deny access to certain resources.

Data Backup Procedures

Create procedures for backing up data regularly so that valuable information isn’t lost in case of technical issues or disasters. Consider using layered backup systems to mitigate against both digital and physical risk factors.

Defining Your Destruction Procedures

Develop destruction procedures to destroy outdated or obsolete files following company policy or legal requirements. Remember, a strong destruction process starts with a clearly defined retention policy. Additionally, specify requirements for both digital and hard-copy information. Be sure to consider these items, when outlining your secure destruction procedures:

  • Define the different types of records and how they should be destroyed.
  • Specify who is authorized to destroy documents, including any special training or qualifications these individuals must have.
  • Describe secure methods for destroying documents such as shredding, burning, pulping or securely erasing digital media.
  • Outline processes for verifying that information is destroyed in accord-
  • Require written confirmation from all personnel involved in the destruction process.
  • Define procedures for documenting and tracking any destruction activity.

Document Review and Audit Processes

The last aspect to consider when developing your records management plan is how you will review, audit, and revise documents as needed. Regularly reviewing and updating stored records allows you to ensure accuracy, completeness, and compliance with relevant laws and policies.

A strong audit and review process should include

  1. Regular reviews of document retention policies to ensure compliance with organizational policies and legal requirements.
  2. Periodic reviews of records storage locations to identify any potential issues or inefficiencies.
  3. Transactions tracking system to monitor document access, usage, destruction, and retrieval processes for compliance with relevant policies/laws.
  4. Auditing of records management activities to identify any unauthorized data access or use of documents.
  5. Identification of new risks or threats that could affect the security of records and the implementation of appropriate countermeasures to mitigate those risks.

Build Your Records Management Strategy with a Local Partner You Know and Trust

Augusta Data Storage offers comprehensive solutions for businesses in the Augusta area to help them develop their own effective records management plans. We are dedicated to helping our clients protect their valuable data with secure storage systems and advanced technologies and certified secure shredding. Contact us today for assistance developing or updating your current records management plan!