Formulating a plan to manage your office records is essential in accurate, secure, and efficient organization, while meeting legal and operational requirements in event of litigation, audit, accreditation, or public records request. Ideally, your records should be inventoried, organized, secured, and the collection weeded to only include what is needed to operate your department and what is legally required (which is outlined in our What Records to Retain/What can be Destroyed page).
Sound tricky? Well, it can be, but the Records Management Department is happy to help.
Follow these steps for optimal record organization:
Each department should assign an individual to lead the process of formulating a records management plan. This individual will coordinate with its entire department in creating an inventory of what records the department produces and how to manage the records. The leader should also act as a liaison to the Records Management Department for future collaboration on retention schedules and record storage and destruction.
What records does your department produce or oversee? To effectively manage records, it is pivotal to have an authoritative list of every record (paper, electronic, A/V, etc…) your department manages. Each employee should scour their cabinets and their computers to determine every type of record they manage, and then compile a list of types or records produced, received, and stored.
Now that you have an authoritative list of all the records your department manages, it is time to analyze and classify records based on their value to your department’s current operations, your legal obligation to retain, and a logical destruction schedule.
Beginning with the records that are needed for current operations, consider which records you need to perform your work and when they lose value/use. Is there a dusty box of files in the corner that has not been opened in a decade? Check the What Records to Retain/What can be Destroyed page to determine if you are legally obligated to keep the files. Also consider if they are needed for a process like accreditation. If there are no obligations, strongly consider destroying the records. With each valueless record weeded, your collection of information becomes more efficient and easily managed.
While your records may no longer have substantial operational use, they may still be legally required to be retained in case of litigation, audit, or a public records request. The legal requirements for your records can be determined on our What Records to Retain/What can be Destroyed page, which house our retention schedules. Once you determine the retention schedule of your particular record, add the information to your authoritative list of records.
Determining your records retention schedule can be challenging, but if you need any assistance, contact us!
What can be Destroyed
Numerous records have retention schedules that designate records can be routinely destroyed at any time. These include duplicates, drafts, and emails that have temporary value (personal non-business correspondence, routine replies, event announcements, etc..). A more detailed list of what can be destroyed is found on the What Records to Retain/What can be Destroyed page.
Secure storage is vital to managing records, because it ensures documents are not tampered with, damaged, destroyed, or viewed by improper authorities. The University has a responsibility to protect student and employee personal and financial data. Ensure your department has proper procedures to store and protect information.
Once the records management plan is in place be certain the entire department is trained in proper procedures. Superior records management demands uniformity and consistency.
Monitor and Revise
Be proactive! Records management processes frequently change and evolve. Monitor your plan and perform occasional reviews. Contact the Records Management Department with any questions!