With the influx of compliance, e-discovery and retention policies, many organizations are desperately seeking to stifle their RIM (Records & Information Management) woes. More often than not, organizations try to fix information management problems at the end of the life cycle without understanding the beginning of the records creation process. Implementing a RIM audit program will help provide solutions that will alleviate record keeping issues at the end of the life cycle. Whether you conduct a RIM inventory/audit yourself or hire an outside resource, the following is a minimum starting place for development of a sound RIM audit program.
Identify file/document types within each department that are being created. Often times you will find they are not necessarily in line with your retention schedule; something you don’t want to find out in a litigation scenario.
How Are Records Being Created?
How are these records being created and indexed? Are electronic documents printed and filed? Understanding how records are created plays a significant role in solving the mystery of how to manage the information and develop a consistent process that takes the guesswork away from the end user and defines the life cycle of the record. Doing it right in the beginning of the life cycle allows technology solutions to take care of it at the end.
Where are the documents being stored? Are there duplicate copies unaccounted for? Lack of confidence in corporate record policies and process drives us to create multiple copies of documents so that we always have access. The problem is that when it’s time to apply retention schedules, how do we ensure that we have included the plethora of rogue copies? Understanding where these documents are, and implementing a process for the creation and retrieval of them, along with good training, will help alleviate this issue.
When Does a Record Become a Record?
Too often, documents are neither indexed nor classified until the middle or end of the life cycle. They live in a limbo state often referred to as “working documents”. Documenting and understanding when your end users create records will help define your record policy and ensure that the organizations intellectual property is identified and secured.
Why Do We Do It This Way?
Undoubtedly the most important question to consider when conducting the audit is “why”! “Why do you do it this way?” And the most common answer is….”Because we’ve always done it that way!” Understanding “why” is the first step in improving your records management program and changing the culture of your organization.
Conducting a RIM Audit will provide upper management the information they need to make better enterprise wide decisions for your business.
For more information about how Southwest Solutions Group can help you through the maze of Records and Information Management, call 1-800-803-1083 or click here to contact us.