The Importance of Pre-Planning Your Records Management Program

There’s a tiny little lightbulb that goes off in the back of your mind when you stumble across Friday night lifestyle television. The carpenter is slick and the instructions seem simple. They’re converting a bookcase or building a desk or revolutionising a window seat or setting a new standard for the outdoor barbecue pit. The materials are laid out, the very reasonable cost is estimated and they bang it all out on a sunny afternoon. And just like that, a whisper in your ear, a rumbling in your gut, a seed is planted and a single thought appears in your mind. I could do that.

It just seems so doable.

And maybe it is! But you’re more likely to get a measurement wrong, underestimate the sort of equipment you need or run out of time or patience than you are to reveal your stunning homemade masterpiece. Maybe the whole “DIY” movement is a little overrated.

So let’s consider your records management program. Setting it up yourself may be a fantastic idea for you and your organisation. For most organisations, however, the finer details of implementing and maintaining a compliant program are not particularly high on the agenda of day to day business and most organisation’s find that the resources required for the pre-planning and handling of their records are scarce. For this reason it’s worth considering outsourcing. And the good news? It’s not as expensive as one may think.

What your Records Management Program Needs

To make your life easy, your records management program needs to work hard. An effective program maintains all records from tangible physical hard-copies to digitised media in such a way that keeps everything organised, audited and protected. Organised records, however, shouldn’t be hidden away in inaccessible vaults. An effective records management program operates seamlessly alongside your day to day operations ensuring your records are accessible when needed. In addition, your program needs to manage the safe and secure destruction of records in accordance with compliance and privacy protected regulations.

It’s a tall order to set up such a program in your own time, on your own dime.

Inadequate Planning

It’s a well-known cliché. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Inadequate planning is one of the biggest pitfalls for most organisations tackling their records management program. There are some key problem areas that are easy to miss is setting up your program:

  • It’s important your organisation understands the need for an information management policy and maintaining compliance.
  • An effective program is built to manage large volumes of data. It can be daunting to sort different retention requirements, multiple compliance laws and vast amounts of data but the importance of doing so cannot be overstated.
  • If you’re a smaller organisation, you may find yourself running in to resource constraints. Specialist records management and data protection managers may not be particularly high on the personnel wish-list when growing a small business.

Points to consider before deciding on a records management approach 

First and foremost, it’s crucial your organisation understands that secure and compliant records management is not a convenience or a luxury, it’s a legal imperative. So how can your organisation get ahead?

  • The first step is to identify the methods required by your organisation to implement a comprehensive and efficient records management process.
  • Following this, it’s recommended you establish and communicate your policy to all employees.
  • Remember, all policy should be actionable by employees.
  • Next, designate an employee to oversee the management and protection of records ensuring all actions and decisions are properly considered and are implemented appropriately.
  • Make sure you meet all industry, national and state retention and privacy compliance requirements, remembering to seek expert assistance when you need it.
  • Keep in mind that the objective of records management is not only to protect sensitive information but also to protect the identities of the employers, employees and customers.
  • Most importantly? Make sure your employees understand the part they play in the records management process.

So where do you start?

It’s a big task. Setting up and running an effective records management program that works for you and your organisation requires precious man hours and employee know-how. But you needn’t fret. There are information management organisations that specialise in these services providing you with a cost effective services and incalculable peace of mind. So why do it yourself? To find out more about the services ZircoDATA provides to offer you secure information management that ticks all the boxes contact us at services@zircodata.com.au or call 13 ZIRCO.