Records Management - Complete Guide on Information Records Management
- by Justice Levine
Many growing companies are undergoing a journey of digital transformation, making creating and managing documents digitally a essential step in the process that may increase productivity, better client service, and reduce operating costs. Another benefit to doing business online is enhanced cybersecurity, which is often placed on the back burner for businesses despite the massive volumes of data generated daily.
That being said, it’s critical to remember that the growth of your organization correlates with a potential risk of a cybersecurity disaster. All it takes is a single vulnerability to put an organization’s future in harm’s way. This article will discuss the benefits of a system of managing your records and why organizations need to integrate cybersecurity controls so that regulatory requirements are met efficiently.
What is Records Management?
Records management is the process of implementing control of the creation, maintenance, receipt, and disposal of information regardless of the format. Electronic Records Management or Information Records Management is 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. A record could be any information maintained as evidence or used for any business transactions including final reports, budget documents, company balance sheets, emails referring to an action, maps of field missions, and more.
Why Records Management Is Important
Records management helps to control the development of records as well as extract useful information from them. Organizations can be overwhelmed if they were to manage everything electronically due to the cost and productivity. Without records management, businesses face potential losses, and poor management can result in costly compliance penalties, loss of productivity, unnecessary audits, data overload, and more. Records management is the best possible solution to these issues and maintains compliance with data privacy regulations. Some other benefits of records management include:
- Lower storage costs: your organization may have many files, emails, and business reports, but only a small portion of them are valuable. With proper management, you can dispose of unnecessary documents and reduce the cost of storing information.
- Ensure regulatory compliance: compliance with regulatory laws can result in severe legal actions and penalties. Having proper records management in place can help organizations easily comply with laws and avoid penalties.
- Efficient retrieval of records: with a powerful document management platform, you can easily store and retrieve information and better accessibility to information helps organizations make better business decisions.
- Easy automation of workflow: a lack of organization can cause your business to spend unnecessary time storing and searching for records when a records management system makes the process efficient and automates the workflow.
What is the purpose of Records Management?
There are a number of different reasons why an organization might choose to implement records management. Typically, records management is used in order to ensure compliance with legal or regulatory requirements, to improve efficiency or productivity, or to protect sensitive or confidential information. In some cases, records management may also be used as a tool for risk management.
Organizations subject to certain laws and regulations, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act or the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, may be required to maintain specific records in order to comply with these requirements. In other cases, an organization may simply want to improve its efficiency by streamlining its record-keeping processes. By implementing records management, an organization can more easily find and retrieve the records it needs, when it needs them.
In some cases, records management may also be used to protect sensitive or confidential information. For example, an organization might choose to store certain types of records, such as client files or employee records, in a secure location. By doing so, the organization can help to ensure that this information is not accessed or tampered with without authorization.
Finally, records management can also be used as a tool for risk management. By keeping accurate and up-to-date records, an organization can help to minimize its exposure to potential legal liabilities. In addition, by identifying and tracking key records, an organization can more easily detect and investigate instances of fraud or misconduct.
What is Email Records Management?
Email management assists organizations in properly capturing, retaining, and managing emails sent and received by employees. Classification schemes, retention periods, and access controls can be used to help manage emails. By collecting the metadata from the emails, employees with the proper permissions are able to access and maintain the information.
Email is the preferred method of communication in business, so it is crucial that email records are retained to support the best practices of management. When high volumes of unmanaged emails in inboxes, sent folders, and deleted items folders, certain risks are presented. This includes:
- Critical business data loss due to individual employees managing their own inboxes.
- Inefficient discovery or access to records.
- Failure of organizations meeting legal preservation requirements.
Benefits of implementing an email management system include:
- Retaining a history of communication.
- Incident tracking, as all emails relating to a specific incident or user are automatically tracked and are able to be viewed as a single correspondence.
- Employees can use reporting systems to provide additional valuable insights into an organization’s communications trends.
Essential Records Management Capabilities
Having a compliant record and information management (RIM) program is crucial for all organizations managing both physical and electronic records throughout their life cycle. In today’s ever-changing regulatory environment, volumes of information continue to rise so it’s a necessity that companies enforce essential records management practices.
By creating a well-structured records management plan, your organization will meet regulatory compliance, improve workflow, and limit itself to exposed risk. Essential records management procedures that will set your RIM program up for success include the following:
- Records retention schedule: a records retention schedule defines how long records should be kept from an operational and legal standpoint, and that outdated records are disposed of in a timely fashion.
- Policies and procedures: policies and practices should be communicated clearly and applied consistently throughout your organization. When properly delivered your policies and procedures work simultaneously with your business continuity plan and disaster recovery program.
- Accessibility, indexing, and storage: a successful records management program requires accessibility of information, indexing parameters (including date, subject matter, creator, and location of the record), and an online document management system (DMS) to be stored and retrieved.
- Compliance auditing: auditing policies thoroughly ensure that historical records are routinely maintained and destroyed.
- Disposal of obsolete records: incorporating the destruction of records at the end of their life cycle into your management system reduces the possibility of audits, legal risks, and storage costs.
Improved Security With Records Management
Implementing a management system makes it easy for an organization to integrate cybersecurity controls while ensuring that regulatory requirements are met efficiently. The right solution should have specific functions that protect your data and prevent attacks. You should consider a platform that addresses, the most common concerns such as:
- Physical security of data, i.e. the security of physical servers and data centers where the data is hosted.
- Operational security, as in access control, workflow approvals, and audit conformance.
- Which encryption technologies are used and are they up to date?
- The retention period identifies the records to be managed and communicates how long the records are to be retained before they are disposed of.
- Monitoring and notification of system incidents. This includes flagging issues as well as detailed report generation.
- Vulnerability testing of web applications and remote access to document tools
- Backups, what policy is being applied, and how robust is the system?
The cost of a cyber attack is cheaper to prevent as opposed to repair. While it is possible to determine the cost of litigation, assessing the reputational damage of a data breach is difficult. The proper solution provides data security and protection in the following ways:
A cloud-based system ensures top-of-the-line data security solutions that move data to the cloud. By doing this, small businesses will have access to reliable data security services that can be controlled or viewed only by authorized employees and can be hidden, protected, and removed using cloud services.
Persistent Data Backups
In the event of a security breach, loss, corruption, sabotage, and manipulation of data are all possible. All documents stored on the management platform can be backed up to another secure database to quickly restore access. The system can be automated to back up the data at regular intervals seamlessly in the background without any intervention.
Records management servers can be located wherever need be as data centers within organization premises provide greater control over the physical security of data. Whereas even in data centers hosted remotely, the servers can be securely sealed in hardened data centers and protected by biometrics-based access systems.
Implement a Disaster Recovery Plan
The value of Disaster Recovery is that it creates the ability to react to a threat quickly and efficiently. This is achieved with the help of a department that has informed staff, disaster supplies, and planned procedures. Planning is a senior-level function and requires top-level support to succeed and recognizing this as a necessity must be present at an early stage.
Developing a disaster recovery plan involves stockpiling emergency supplies and arranging services, establishing a disaster recovery team, developing disaster recovery and records salvage procedures, and contingency planning. The key to having comprehensive disaster prevention and recovery plans is to draw from every resource at your disposal, including records management.
The Bottom Line
Advances in technology drive down costs including the cost of perpetrating cyberattacks. As acquiring the skills and tools needed to hack, infiltrate, and sabotage, the possibility of threats is expected. Security threats in records management can range from malware to data breach, making it essential to integrate a strong security strategy in records management. Vulnerabilities are not always discovered quickly and an organization on a digital growth trajectory must be able to mitigate risks.
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