Records Management – Promoting Efficiency within an Enterprise
OfficeLabs would like to challenge your thinking around records management. It is not just a practice for businesses that are either heavily regulated or manage large amounts of paperwork, it is also a means of positively impacting your business.
By adopting a mentality of good practice around the creation, dissemination, persistence, retrieval, maintenance and disposal of records within an organisation, you can realise gains in performance and efficiency of systems and people.
If you’re unsure about what the term “records management” means, The National Archive provides a comprehensive paper on the subject and defines records as ‘Information created, received and maintained as evidence and information by an organisation or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business’.
Records can be paper or electronic, and they are the backbone of any organisation. Customer invoices and orders, supplies, employee history, payments, business licenses or contracts are a critical part of the smooth running of a company. Being unable to retrieve any of these could result in fines, court orders, and even business losses. It is therefore the role of management to come up with an efficient records management system that meets the needs of the company.
Benefits of having an efficient Records Management System (RMS)
- Promoting accountability and transparency
With regulatory bodies coming up with security protocols and rules for data management, investing in efficient records management can save the company costs in the long run. At any point, your company can be requested to provide a crucial document either needed by a regulatory body or a court order.
Could you say that your business knows where its records are at any given time? Will you have the available documents ready at short notice? We don’t want you to ever experience a scenario like that, but nevertheless it’s a possibility that you must prepare for. Keeping documents like employee records appropriately is crucial – particularly since 2018’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force.
- Fast decision-making, simple auditing
An up-to-date records management system provides the necessary details needed to make a decision. Important decisions like sales targets, seeking funding from investors, profits and losses or employee performance require that you have all the required information with you, so you can make choices based on facts and not probabilities. Records management systems offer indexing and the removal of unnecessary data, so you can access exactly what you need, when you need it.
Auditors will appreciate your implementation of an RMS as well – it means they’ll have to spend less time searching for the relevant paperwork or tying up your staff with requests for specific information.
- Easy retrieval of records
Records are an important part of daily business and hence finding the required ones should take as little time as possible. In a hospital, past medical records could be the determinant of a patient’s recovery or death. An efficient RMS should also be able to provide evidence of the last person to access any records – logging makes it far easier to track unauthorized access or mismanagement of records. Cloud technology allows employees across different locations to get access to all the files they need, and adding new files online makes them available to the relevant parties immediately.
- Set smart retention periods
While keeping hold of records for a particular length of time is not only advisable, but sometimes mandated by government, that doesn’t mean that you need to retain them indefinitely. A good records management system will allow you to set rules and retention policies which tie into your company and government requirements, ensuring that you keep records vital to your business, but archiving or deleting ones that are no longer relevant. Optimising your storage space in this way will result in faster indexing and retrieval, as well as decluttering in general – not everything needs to be (or should be) kept forever!
- Cut costs, boost productivity and increase office space
An RMS which makes it easier for employees to retrieve documents not only improves efficiency, but also saves you money. Replacing physical storage cabinets with cloud-based technology is a no-brainer in the digital age, and means you don’t need to spend as much money on costly real estate just to keep files in one place, nor expensive security measures to restrict access. Records management systems offer tailored access which can be set up in seconds, while staff who can get the information they need in seconds rather than minutes will be happier and far more productive.
Which RMS to choose?
There are a couple of recommended options available for managing records. The most widely used RMS is Microsoft SharePoint – a platform which enables users to create, hold, monitor and audit records efficiently, and which is built with the essential aspects of an organisation in mind. SharePoint allows a company to allocate specific records management roles to your employees – such as record officers, compliance personnel, IT, and content managers – and assign appropriate permissions to each.
SharePoint allows you to set up retention policies, specifying which data should be retained, where it should be stored and for how long. It also lets you add key elements such as management permissions for a specific set of records, and provides a granular approach to security, from the whole business down to an individual employee. Furthermore, workflows provide an easy means of categorising and moving files to the correct locations, determining their importance by a number of rules – such as file type – and assigning metadata for easy retrieval.
While SharePoint is an effective RMS which will cover many of the day-to-day tasks associated with records management, it can be extended even further with the use of Gimmal. This is a robust information management suite which works in conjunction with your out-of-the-box Office 365, on-premises or hybrid SharePoint build to provide a comprehensive set of records management tools that plug many of the gaps in SharePoint’s functionality.
Gimmal offers far more granular control to your file management, by allowing you to apply policies at a site or site collection level, rather than your entire SharePoint instance. It enforces taxonomy by building on SharePoint’s term store, but also offers far simpler administration which makes it easier for your end users to choose the relevant tags for their content. Record declaration is easier with Gimmal too. Not only can you manage superseded, obsolete and vital records, but you can also declare and manage records external to SharePoint so if you already have other systems in place (such as file shares), these can also be handled by Gimmal – as well as physical copies of files!
Automated retention is another benefit of Gimmal, providing far more flexibility than just the date-based retention of Office 365. You can schedule recurring events, one-time events, external events, and even events based on multiple triggers (such as a combination of date and events). Gimmal provides auditing options which are far more thorough than out-of-the-box Office functionality – including file plan changes, accuracy monitoring, complete file tracking from creation to disposal, and a full suite of reports.
Additionally, Gimmal also offers physical to electronic conversion, which can then be fully managed within SharePoint. The best news of all? No additional configuration or policy planning is required when deploying Gimmal into hybrid environments, and it supports all versions of SharePoint from 2010 all the way up to Office 365.
We can help you choose the right RMS for your business, to fit your needs and budget. When you book an appointment with an OfficeLabs licensing consultant, they will talk to you in depth about your business needs, and how best to utilise the software you have. Remember, OfficeLabs offers more than SharePoint and Gimmal. This is just one area of expertise — OfficeLabs will ensure you get the most out of these applications. Making sure your business runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible is why OfficeLabs has been chosen by both FTSE 250 companies and huge public sector bodies, and our no-jargon approach will let you talk to us with confidence about your requirements.