ISO standard 15489: 2001 defines Records Management (RM) as the field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including the processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records.
Records Management ensures your organization has the records it needs when they are needed and refers to a set of activities required for systematically controlling the creation, distribution, use, maintenance, and disposition of recorded information maintained as evidence of business activities and transactions.
ISO 15489 defines Records Management (RM) as the field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including the processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records.
The key word in this definition is “evidence.” Put simply, a record can be defined as evidence that a particular event took place: a birth, an X-ray, a purchase, a contract approval, the sending and receipt of an email. Records management is primarily concerned with the evidence of an organization’s activities, and is usually applied according to the value of the records rather than their physical format.
Essential records management capabilities include assigning unique identifiers to individual records, providing safeguards against unauthorized changes being made to those records, and creating an unbreakable audit trail for reasons of accountability and eDiscovery.
- Unique identifiers are usually generated within a database for systems administration and tracking purposes, and should not be confused with reference codes, which may be composed of more than one part.
- Unauthorized changes are prevented by implementing airtight manual procedures or using software applications (such as encryption or digital signature) to keep a document from being modified after it has been declared as a record.
- Audit trails guarantee an enforceable chain of custody by making it possible to know what a record said at a particular point in time, how its content evolved to that point, and who was involved with it. This is key to preserving the link between the record and the process or event it describes, and for being able to demonstrate exactly who made what changes and when.
It is important to note here that, as important as these capabilities are, and as critical as it is to find a records management solution that supports them, it is even more vital that you take a long-term view of the process since some records – most notably in healthcare and government – need to be managed literally for decades, and digital technology tends to change frequently and degrade quickly … certainly faster than paper does. It is imperative that you periodically refresh and migrate your electronic records in order to ensure their long-term accessibility.
Records Management Applications (RMAs) are considered to be software used by an organization to manage its records. The RMA’s primary management functions are categorizing and locating records and identifying records that are due for disposition. RMA software also locates, retrieves, and disposes of the electronic records that are stored in a repository through integration with relevant core EDMS functions. Any RMA must have at least one core EDMS component. Without at least one core component the RMA would only be able to manage the policies and not the electronic (or digital) records. It should be noted that RMA functionality is a critical piece of an overall record and/or document management strategy for any organization.