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What Are Records Management And Compliance?

What is records management, and how does it relate to compliance? What is compliance exactly?

Records Management

Records Management is the control of your business records from their creation to their disposition. A business record can be a record of an event or transaction, document, or a log. Whatever type of document or record it is, a record is the final and unalterable version, hence the concept of a “record.” Records Management is the retention, maintenance and destruction of business records. Retention schedules are set either by law at the Federal or State level or by your organizational policies.

So if this is what Records Management is, why does it exist? Let’s first look at the regulatory issues. Most financial records have to be maintained for 7 years by law. If we look at the financial scandals over the past few years, ensuring that an organization’s records are available for a set period of time and were not altered during that time is critical to enforcement.

If an organization chooses to retain their records after any legal requirement, or if they are records that do not have a regulatory statute, if they exist they can be subject to subpoena and review. One of the records management challenges is to determine the useful or necessary life span of a business record. Business records can have different retention schedules based on how they might be used. For example, e-mails, log files, and correspondence might all be useful in following up on current and past business dealings. At some point, however, they become a liability either in terms of storage space and costs or in terms of their ability to be reviewed by others in a legal situation. This is why retention schedules are so important. It is also why a key component of Records Management is the purging or destruction of business records after their retention period.

Compliance

Compliance is ensuring that your records management policy is being followed, and that you are in line with any retention schedules required by law. When an organization is audited by a government entity, compliance with the appropriate laws is one of the items that needs to be verified.

Records Management systems can exist without document management systems, however, it is much easier to manage your business records when they are already in a digital format and stored in a document management system that includes the RM functionality.

Document Management, Workflow and Records Management have all been described throughout this section. The last item to explore is “How to Ensure Success with your Document Management System.”

View a sample of a document retention schedule.

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