What is records management software?
Records management software is essential in the transition to digitize millions (if not billions) of paper-based documentation.
Definition of records management
Records management is the control and maintenance of both digital and hard copy documentation of transactions and business activity, also known as records. This includes the creation, identification, storage, retrieval and disposition of such records.
Having effective records management strategies in place gives an organization systematic control of their important information, and facilitates better strategic planning for the business. All of this is done according to regulatory compliance to reduce the risks, costs and further liabilities of handling sensitive data.
What are the different types of records management?
There are two categories of records management:
- Traditional physical paper documents: Paper records are often managed by an offsite record management firm or kept on premises in an office filing cabinet. Smaller organizations typically start by storing hardcopy documents in office spaces. But as they grow, so does the number of records they need to track — which eventually leads to misplaced documents, slow processes and confusion.
- Electronic files: Electronic files are digital information that can be created, stored, modified, archived and distributed by an electronic system. This includes text-based documents, digital images, audio files, emails, SMS messages, databases and other electronic formats. Electronic records are protected through specific regulations. This means sensitive and confidential data must be preserved, maintained and destroyed in compliance with these regulations.
How a records management system works
An electronic records management system uses pre-defined rules to fully automate records managing from record declaration through final disposition.
The solution automatically:
- Declares documents as records
- Places events and holds on records
- Destroys and purges records from the system
The 5 benefits of good records management
Records management processes bring fundamental improvements to the way crucial business information is handled on a day-to-day basis. Core benefits include:
1. Greater control over record lifecycles
Efficient record management assumes control of your files’ entire lifecycles — from the moment they are created through their destruction.
Business users can get notified when documents are no longer required to be stored in the system and should be properly disposed of according to compliance. This decreases the likelihood of document disarray and subsequently reduces organizations’ risk of data breaches that come with the improper storage, archival and deposition of records.
2. Faster file retrieval and distribution
Automated workflow processes allow for faster and easier access to crucial business information. Reaching a business goal becomes less of a frustrating, paper-chasing ordeal and employees can confidently focus on higher-value tasks that allow for business milestones to be achieved with greater precision.
For example, an HR generalist doesn’t have to remember how long to keep a W-4 form after an employee leaves the organization, and instead can focus on finding and retaining talent. Record managers can focus on the overall process and maintain visibility over records and retention enterprise-wide, rather than manage individual records or employees.
3. Better regulatory compliance
A record management system minimizes the liabilities that come with improper document disposal. For instance, failure to present up-to-date records during audits may result in fines or penalties.
Organizations must have a strong record management system in place to make sure they adhere to all applicable standards, as record compliance is becoming more stringent. Records management systems do this by controlling who can access, edit or delete information — thus preserving document integrity at every stage of its lifecycle.
4. Lower costs and maximum ROI
Managing paper-based records requires a significant amount of time and money, especially considering organizations must find storage space, print and file all physical documents.
With good records management, organizations keep only the information that is important, useful or required. This reduces storage costs, boosts team productivity and saves businesses the hassle of looking for files or replacing those that were lost.
5. Clearer knowledge preservation
At the core of every agile organization is its records and data, which play a crucial role in future planning and decision-making.
A central location for records allows informed decisions to be made faster, as businesses have greater transparency over the lifecycle of the document.
Implementing a records management solution
When you’re ready to implement records management software, begin with a department where retention requirements are already established.
The best records management solutions are easily configurable. They provide customers with the ability to meet compliance or records retention requirements at a fraction of the time, cost and risk of manual methods.
If retention requirements are not established, work with a single department to define content types and associated retention schedules.