You may want to run for cover (or at least to the next article) when I say that, to understand a Records Management Policy, we first need to define what a policy is, and what a record is. BORING?!

Well, the fact is that many business administration tasks are not the most dynamic, but they are still necessary. If you do these things appropriately in the first instance, they will serve you well and give you the best benefit with the least angst – so let’s do it the right way. Here goes… (it’s worth it, I promise)…

A policy is usually a short (unless you work for Government) document that simply states the intent of an organisation. It is not a document that shows how that intent is carried out. It is the statement/s that put the benchmarks in place regarding what management approves and expects.

A Leave policy (for example) may state that maternity, paternity, annual and long service leave are provided. It may state who is eligible, when it applies and whether it accumulates from year to year. It does not, however detail how to apply for leave or the approval method (a procedure) or what to use (a form). There may be many procedures, templates, process maps etc that put a policy into action.

So, a policy is the umbrella over a series of other documents, it states the organisation’s intent and objective only. There will be many records that put the policy’s directives into practice. Without that policy all the records that relate to a topic may conflict, are likely to be unclear in their intent and may have incomplete information.

Lack of clear policy in many topics can lead to arbitration, confusion, employee dissatisfaction, wasted time through replicated efforts and therefore decreased productivity/increased cost. An organisation’s policy statements very much affect and drive the culture and structure of the business. A record does not only refer to the output from a software application such as word processing or a spreadsheet package.

A record is a recording of a (business) activity or transaction. The record might be multimedia, a printed document, or an online file. Records Management relates to the management of the life cycle of any Record.

So, putting the definitions together, a Records Management Policy is put in place to show the company’s intent and expectations regarding the management of Records during their life cycle – no matter what media they are created in and no matter who creates them. edrms project managers

Every business has business records. If your organisation has OHS, Quality Assurance or Sustainability requirements – the management of records relating to these topics is critical to their effective use or to any accreditation.

There are many reasons why Records Management practices should be implemented to any business and most of these relate to cost reduction and efficiency. All business records should be managed to ensure that the business maintains ownership of (and access to) those records. They should be stored, protected, uniquely identified and maintained in a manner which is in the company’s best interest.

They are, after all, a critical part of an organisation’s soft intellectual property. Many organisations rely on purchased Records Management Systems or Software to implement records management strategies. However, software and systems will not and can not be the sole solution. Your Records Management Policy must clearly give the benchmarks that the organisation expects in the management of this intellectual property

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