Business records are of significant value and legal requirements exist everywhere to ensure that operating businesses treat records management seriously.
Implementing real records management processes into a business and ensuring secure storage for the relevant records, is a key management responsibility, one which is often neglected in small to medium business enterprises, but one which definitely needs to be a core focus, in order to satisfy relevant legislative requirements, and to improve business efficiency.
What are Business Records?
Business records are documents, or any other electronic or physical items, that provide lasting evidence of any activity or transactions undertaken in a business, which are required to be retained either permanently, or for a specified time period.
Business records include but are not limited to:
- Business Registrations and Corporate Records
- Minutes of meetings,
- Incoming and outgoing correspondence
- Work diaries,
- Personnel records,
- Financial Statements and Reports,
- Bank Statements,
- Marketing and Advertising Material, and
What is Records Management?
Records management is the process of developing and maintaining a system that:
- determines what records are to be created and how they are to be created,
- identifies the nature of all incoming records and stipulates how they are to be managed,
- dictates how all records are to be maintained, stored, and retrieved as required,
- allocates for each record type the retention timeframe,
- manages all daily transaction data and collates same for record keeping purposes,
- stipulates who has access to records and to what use various records can be put, and
- specifies how unwanted records are to be disposed of, and how disposals are recorded.
Benefits of Real Records Management
A well designed, implemented and effectively managed records management system will provide a business with the following benefits:
- reduction in overall time taken to perform daily transactions which rely on regular access to current or older business records,
- significant time savings in physical record retrieval processes,
- quick access to relevant documents requested by regulators,
- reduction in storage costs through more timely disposal of old records and conversion of eligible paper records to electronic records,
- data protection in case of a disaster destroying the primary records site,
- rent savings from reducing costly commercial floor space by improving storage methodologies,
- prevention of accidental or premature disposal of records, and
- better organised work environment, less stressed employees, and far less likelihood of adverse legal actions for failure to meet legislative requirements.
Four Key Questions to be Answered
The core elements of records management can be encapsulated through asking four key questions;
- What records need to be kept,
- How should each type of record be stored,
- How long should each record be retained, and
- How should each type of record be disposed of when retention obligations end.
Answering these key questions, and introducing the necessary systems, will deliver the benefits of real records management and allow the business owners and managers, who treat records management as a core management responsibility, to sleep far better each night.
Real Records Management and Secure Storage Protect Business Records and Reputations
Ensuring that a business implements real records management and establishes secure storage for all records, is a key management responsibility. Failure to identify and retain relevant business records, can result in adverse legal outcomes, that can severely affect the reputation of a business. Addressing each of the four key questions outlined above will quickly establish the quantum of the work required to ensure adequate compliance and increased business efficiency.