A Simple Seven-step Records Management Plan

Information is one of the most vital and strategic assets any organization possesses. Organizing and maintaining this information in a manner that makes it easily accessible on a moment’s notice is a key activity for organizations of all sizes and types. The challenges lie not only in establishing comprehensive recorded information management programs but also in ensuring that all information is captured, filed, saved and made available according to the requirements of staff,  new standards for managing evidence and new standards for program operations.

Woman looking in box by rows of boxes in storage roomThe purpose of records management is to establish efficient record keeping that guarantees irrelevant information is systematically destroyed and valuable information is protected and maintained in a manner that allows ready access and use.

In sum, records management means controlling all business records, regardless of media format, from initial creation to final disposition. Here are suggested primary steps to establish and maintain a records management program.

Step 1: Identify the person or team responsible and the resources necessary for success

Implement a project team that includes a “records liaison” lead from each department. Determine what department will begin as a pilot.


thinkstockphotos-152977163Step 2: Identify records needed to document activities and functions of your organization

Inventory materials, including things filed away in long-term storage. Document where materials are located, how much there is and the format. Identify vital records.


Step 3: Establish procedures, a records schedule and a file plan

Determine if records will be centralized or decentralized, the type of documents included in records files, how all types of documents need to be handled and who is responsible for maintaining each record.


Step 4: Document record-keeping procedures and requirements

Provide details on how records are organized and maintained, who is responsible and what happens to inactive files.


Step 5: Clean out records beyond their retention date

Retire, purge or archive records no longer needed.


Step 6: Organize records

This is when implementation of the new file plan begins. Prepare folders and organize documents within folders. Follow the procedures established in the file plan. Place reference sheets in folders to refer users to the location of related non-paper materials. Organize electronic documents on individual computers and local networks.


Step 7: Train and maintain

Train staff at all levels of the organization on the system. Make sure every individual knows what their record-keeping responsibilities are and how to fulfill them.

To maintain the system, file new materials on a regular basis, protect records containing vital and confidential information, use a check out system, cleanout inactive materials regularly and purge regularly.

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