Turn the Tide – Seize the Day

Multiple factors have come together to provide an environment favourable to maturing Records and Information Management programs.

It is an opportune time for organisations to move forward in maturing their Records Management program. Records have gained increased visibility within companies and in public view, with frequent records related stories in the news. Hacking attacks, data breaches, identity theft, new and expanding governmental privacy laws, as well as workforces needing to access, create, collaborate, and manage records while working from home. Security needs, as well as records and information access requirements for the workforce, are clearly in focus. Practitioners have an opportunity to “Seize the Day” and advance the maturity of their Records Management / Information Governance program.

Perhaps now that the need to protect an organisations records has become a highly visible top priority, there is a clearer understanding that records are a company’s greatest asset. It is not the product, it is not the property, and it is not the people. Product can be replaced, property can be disposed of or acquired according to company needs, and people come and go. Records however, are both the lifeblood of a company and the company jewels. They need to be identified, managed, and protected as the company’s most valued assets.

Records however, are both the lifeblood of a company and the company jewels. They need to be identified, managed, and protected as the company’s most valued assets.

Craig Grimestad

Senior consultant with Iron Mountain Consulting / RIMPA member

The need has never been greater for a company to shield its records, information, and data against external threats. With many in the workforce working remotely, there is an increased vulnerability to cyberattacks in addition to a requirement for ready access into company websites, applications, and records and data repositories in order to perform their jobs efficiently.

The need for efficient management of records throughout their lifecycle has never been greater. Records created at this time, need to be created well, used for their intended purpose, managed to be fully available and usable unto no longer needed, and disposed of in a timely manner. All in a secure environment.

The opportunity to establish good disciplines throughout the company has never been better. Records Management disciplines have matured and standardised, with measurable standards of maturity and excellence. Many companies have yet to take advantage of the maturity of Records Management disciplines. Practitioners can obtain best-practice training, receive certification, and measure their company’s processes and practices against standards, which can also be used to establish a path for improvement. Curriculum is also available to train the workforce in the disciplines of Records Management, including their necessary role. In support of those disciplines, there are many applications available to develop, manage, store, and protect records. No longer should individuals be expected to personally retain important company records.

A particular company’s path forward will be determined by its current status, areas of greatest need, and available resources. This is a time to be aggressive in your proposal. Commonly there are many opportunities for improvement that will generate good returns. Let us look at some of the most common areas for improvement:

Save Money

  • Storage - Most companies are paying more for storing records than necessary. Whether it is non-business records, duplicates, or records that have fulfilled their retention requirement, there is a lot of potential saving in bringing your records storage into compliance with your Records Retention Schedule (RRS).
  • Litigation - Discovery costs are driven higher as the volume of records to be searched is higher. This occurs when records that are eligible for disposal are retained and records are dispersed in personal repositories across the company. Whether paper or electronic, reducing the volume of records to be searched and reviewed by disposing of expired records, convenience copies, and non-records, as well as replacing personal repositories with company repositories, can reap significant savings.

Improve Efficiency

  • Creation, Storage, Retrieval and Disposal – Efforts to standardise and facilitate the creation and management of records through their entire lifecycle can reap large dividends. Eliminating (or reducing) personal repositories and establishing official repositories (electronic and paper) where employees are certain to be able to store and retrieve the latest version of records, easily produces a significant impact on productivity. Consider a digitisation project. First establish the full utilisation of records in digital form going forward, with designated repositories. Next, transfer needed paper records to digital records, again in designated repositories, disposing of Redundant, Obsolete, and Trivial (ROT) records in the process. If you can save, on average, just 5 minutes out of every hundred for the average employee – that is a 5% savings! 5% of each individual’s salary, with the time redirected to gainful activity is a very significant savings. 

    Reduce Risk
    • Elimination – As records complete their lifecycle and fulfil their purpose, they transition from having high value as an asset to becoming a liability. Having a legally validated Records Retention Schedule that provides confidence in satisfying all legal and regulatory requirements, provides confidence in initiating a records disposal project. Disposing of records per the Records Retention Schedule saves the organisation money as noted above, and also reduces corporate risk. If you have no further use of your records – who are you keeping them for?

    When establishing your path forward it is best to represent the cost and the benefit in financial terms. Not just – it is the right thing to do. Work to estimate the saving in employee and lawyers’ time.

    Management teams often know instinctively that they need improvement in the management of records. Multiple factors have come together to provide an environment favourable to maturing Records and Information Management programs. Seize the Day. Your thoughtful considered plan (a multi-year plan?) for improving Records Management, with improved security and business efficiency while reducing cost and expense, is what your company needs. You have the opportunity to be a significant contributor to the well-being of your company. Seize the Day!

    About the Author

    Craig Grimestad is a senior consultant with Iron Mountain Consulting and a member of RIMPA. His specialty is designing RIM core components with a sub-specialty for RIM auditing. Craig holds a Masters of Science degree in Engineering and was the records manager for the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors where he participated in the development of the GM Corporate RIM program, and implemented and managed Electro-Motive Division’s RIM program.