By Ismael D. Tabije
Record Management is the practice of identifying, classifying, archiving, preserving, and sometimes destroying records. There is an International Standard on records management, ISO 15489: 2001. This defines record management as, "The field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including the processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records".
The ISO defines a record as "information created, received, and maintained as evidence and information by an organization or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business". It is a distinct piece of recorded information derived, accumulated or received in the preliminary, execution or completion of an activity and that constitutes sufficient composition, significance and structure to provide an attestation of that activity. While the definition of a record is often identified strongly with a document, a record can be either a tangible object or digital information which has value to an organization.
Often, a record management system helps to aid in the capture, classification, and ongoing management of records throughout their life cycle. Such a system may be paper based (such as index cards as used in a library), or may be a computer system, such as an electronic records management application.
A record management system is a computer program (or set of programs) used to track and store records. The term is distinguished from imaging and document management systems that specialize in paper capture and document management respectively. Record management systems commonly provide specialized security and auditing functionalities tailored to the needs of record managers.
As processed, record management starts with creating, approving, and enforcing records policies, including a classification system and a records retention policy. The next activity would be developing a records storage plan, which includes the short and long-term housing of physical records and digital information.
In putting this plan into action, it is necessary to identify existing and newly created records, classify them, and then store them according to standard operating procedures. Next step is to coordinate the access and circulation of records within and even outside of an organization. And finally, to execute a retention policy to archive and destroy records according to operational needs, operating procedures, statutes, and regulations.
It is apparent that record management is an essential activity to ensure and certify the authenticity of many business transactions and government activities. The propagation and advancement of electronic documents and their probable litigation exposure have led to issues regarding privacy, data protection, and identity theft, posing some problems in record management.
Managing records involves a variety of diverse disciplines. At the simplest, records must be organized and indexed. In more complex settings, record management demands expertise in forensics, history, engineering, and law. In a business environment, this is usually a matter of filing business documents and making them available for retrieval. However, in many domains, records must be identified and handled much more carefully. Record management then needs a coordination of many experts to build and maintain the system.
Copyright 2007 Ismael D. Tabije
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