Record keeping best practices in organisations
Recordkeeping is a vital part of organisational processes and functions, for what special functions and goals organisations are built. Keeping records/documents is storing them and making them available to the public in terms of privacy. Records/documents are made to be available. It is a part of their democratic nature.
Recordkeeping and records management should be steered and planned. The records management is mainly seen as a normal IT project focusing on records. It includes planning, organizing and managing resources needed to bring about the completion of the project goals planned in advance.
Leadership steering, management style and organisational development are important factors when managing an organisation and records as a vital part of a successful organisation. Education and general information enable a significant organisational change and especially change in thinking and acting, which requires motivation of employees to support the change. It requires a deeper understanding of the whole governance system and the organisational architecture.
Organisational recordkeeping principles and a records classification scheme (FCS) with divisions, groups and indexes should be fitted to the records management plan including electronic records in the ERMS. Records have been filed, divided and indexed into groups to a plan.
In this paper I am interested in studying how records are available to citizens with democratic control and supervision in mind. Archives and records management theory is used to investigate best practices i.e. how records are stored and their usability ensured and how they are preserved for future use and especially found for organisational use in archives repositories or in electronic (computed based) records management systems (i.e. digital environment vs. paper based /physical archives in repositories/organisational archives spaces). The purpose is to concentrate on listing out best practices of keeping records in a public organisation towards theory.
Records management in the public sector authorities is based on laws (for examples: Act on the Openness of Government Activities; Archives Act) and the practical work is conducted by using records management plans for archival purpose regulated by laws. The purpose of law regulations is to improve and regulate the use of records and information-seeking in an organisational archive (paper based/electronic) formed and structured by a records management plan.
Records management in Finland
Every authority in Finland has to have a records management schelude according the archival legislation. This schedule should include all records despite their formats. The schedule or plan contains directives about the registration, filing, retention periods and publicity. Records are grouped according to the functions to which they are related. The life-cycle of documents is considered in advance. Authorities determine the retention period of their records, but the National Archives determine which records shall be preserved permanently. This schedule or plan should also be drafted and approved by the authority leadership during the project.
The purpose of the records management in organisations is to help and to improve the intra-organisational efficiency and workflow management. The projects covered management of records consisting capturing, sharing and delivering information and knowledge within and outside the organisation. It can involve many different types of records in various file formats. The efficiency helps to manage complex workflows and a large amount of digitalised records.
Theoretical points of view in records management
Every organisation strives for being efficient. To efficient and streamlined in processes is considered to be challenging. Recordkeeping and information management in public agencies are seen to be an important part of organisational survival and goal/strategy-oriented governing. How does records management look like in the future? What is the role of paper based/physical records?
Experiences from and impact on current practice in different public organisations/authorities; as stated the continuum of recordkeeping responsibilities, considering the life cycle concept and the way life cycle characterises the relationship between records managers and archivists and defines their respective responsibilities in relation to recordkeeping.
Recordkeeping theory is applied for documenting, accessibility, accountability, contributing its expertise in relation to issues of information resource integrity, authenticity, transparency and persistence to the wider communities with information, corporate and democratic accountability, and cultural heritage.
This contains capturing, managing, preserving and re-presenting records as evidence of social and business activity for business, social and cultural purposes for as long as they are of value.
Theoretical framework is based on records continuum model. The records continuum model is defined as a consistent and coherent regime of management processes from the time of the creation of records (and before creation, in the design of recordkeeping system) through to the preservation and use of records as archives The model presents an overview of a seamless and dynamic recordkeeping regime that transcends time and space to capture and manage records for as long as they are required to satisfy business, regulatory, social and culture requirements. This implies a proactive approach for managing records in all kinds of organisations.
Measuring the best practices
The mechanism behind the best practice is an ideal of integration for the management of documents, records and archives. The idea of integration of these two systems can be developed towards a best practice framework for records and archives management (best practice framework).
The best practice can be measured from three aspects within an integrated framework by client-satisfaction service (service control to client-satisfaction), cost-effective management process (process control) and best value records (product control to best value of records).
Service control means the delivery of the service can be measured by the sustainability and consistency of service to the satisfaction of the clients. The indicators would be availability, accessibility and readability of and timely access to records.
Process control means that the process of records and archives management can be measured by its integrated frameworks. The indicators would be effectiveness, economy and efficiency to records management process.
Product control means that the output of a records and archives management program/system can be measured by the quality and quantity of records. The quality indicators would be accuracy, authenticity and reliability, and the quality indicators of management would be completeness or system or integrity to records.
The aim of the research project is also to make a literature review of archival theory, research findings and appropriate best practices to improve records management as a part of the process oriented organisations. ISO15489, MoReq2 and associated metadata as well as work processes and technical standards will be used as a benchmark for evaluating records management (systems) and identifying gaps and drawbacks in best practice.
Focus in the presentation
This paper presents and suggests best practices as to improve records management in a process oriented organisation. Metadata, work processes and standards will be used as a benchmark for evaluating records management and identifying gaps and drawbacks in best practice. During the project the following questions raised and this paper will closely analyse these questions:
1) Why do organisations introduce and develop new systems for records management?
2) How can organizational design, processes and internal efficiency/archival information retrieval be improved by introducing a records management system?
3) The role of records management plans and classification of records as a steering instrument?
4) How are records management plans built up and structured?
5) Organizational processes, archival information of a public organization preserved and records delivered i.e. how is records management integrated into organisational processes?
6) Is records management only seen or organised as a part of IT-structure in organisations?
7) What is the impact of new systems in organisational effectiveness?
8) How much strategic advantage did electronic records management systems (computer based systems) provide for an overall organisational management of records compared to old methods of storing papers in archives/at offices?
9) How are physical and electronic archives related to each other? A focus is targeted on records as logical rather than physical entities?
10) Are records management plans in active use or not in use at all?