Emmy was as excited as any other young girl could be. Her life was finally falling into place. She had lived her life exactly to the societal expectations. She had cleared her campus education, found a lucrative job and was going to be walking down the aisle in a week’s time!
Could anyone ask for anything more than that! Jeremy was the perfect fiancé and she could not help smiling at herself as she organized his house. She was working on creating space for her stuff which she would be moving in to his 3 bed roomed Apartment. In his wardrobe she found an envelope full of past letters from a certain Carol. She checked the date and it looked like Carol was Jeremy’s girlfriend from the time she was in Form Two. Even as she smiled at the cheesy romantic lines Jeremy had used on Carol, she had a nagging feeling that this was the same Carol she had recently met during Jeremy’s Graduation Party. From the letters she saw a small colored picture that confirmed her worst fears!! She did know Carol!! So why was Jeremy still holding on to this entire past memorabilia if he was already over his feelings for Carol? What did Carol still mean to him? Emmy pulled out her phone and quickly dialed the Pastors number ready to call off the wedding because she had supposedly found proof that Jeremy was cheating on her. The above story may sound distant since the days of snail mail are long gone.
Nevertheless, despite the shift in the platform that most us communicate, the same would happen if this scenario was to play out on a computer or mobile phone screen, the source being an old email. Holding on to these past mementos was Jeremy’s biggest mistake and from the look of things would also be his greatest downfall! The above case not only applies at individual levels but is also very true for organizations. For the organizations the implications are even more serious.
Knowledge is universally recognized as the most important strategic asset that an organisation has. Its acquisition leads to the accumulation of records that need to be properly classified and maintained to ensure smooth running of any organization. As the organization grows, it constantly acquires information and how it deals with this acquired information is referred to as Records Management.
For a majority of starter-ups, they lack systems to ensure smooth running of their businesses. Most of the systems evolve as the business grows. The reason behind this state of affairs is largely the lack of financial muscle to institute and operationalize the functions associated with these systems.
One of the areas affected is records management as it is mostly an expenditure service. To this end, such start-ups may not have the ability to manage their records efficiently in terms of them not documenting enough. However, like any other aspect such as ignorance, inability is not a excusable in law. This leaves the so called small businesses being weighed on the same pedestal with the large and established organisation when is comes to recordkeeping. From the above analogy, it is apparent that without a systematic recordkeeping in place, an organisation whether big or small is likely to either keep every single document / record emanating from its transactions, destroy everything or end up with gaps in their documentation.
One of the biggest risks in business is the dilemma of having to explain past actions based on retained useless records. It, therefore, behooves for every organization to systematize their recordkeeping practices. This is what is called RECORDS MANAGEMENT.
RECORDS MANAGEMENT is the field of management that is concerned with the management of records emanating from legal business transactions. In fact, according to ISO 15489, the de facto standard for Records Management, it is defined as “Field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records”
An efficient Records Management System clearly spells out how long the records in an organization should be retained and at what point the “useless” information is disposed and how it is disposed. According to Baoman in his article, “Creating and Running a Records Management Programme: Case Sharing at KM Singapore 2 September 2011”, “The retention schedule is a key output of the records management programme. It tells the organization how long to keep the record. It tells the organization when to dispose of the record. The actual disposal event becomes an important record for the organization to keep since it proves the records were disposed and it means people can stop looking for the disposed record. The schedule may tell the organization when to move the record to another location.”
The above is one of the reasons as to why the art of Records Management is very important for every
organization that seeks to work efficiently and be productive in all aspects. “A viable and vibrant Record Management Programme enables an organization to CREATE, USE, MAINTAIN and DISPOSE OFF RECORDS. It helps to maintain records economically and promotes efficiency by improved access to information. A well managed Record Management Programme ensures that current records are well maintained, easily retrieved and that records needed for long-term research needs are preserved while those of ephemeral nature are periodically destroyed to facilitate economical use of office space and equipment.”
This is the saving power of Records Management to all Organizations out there that are functioning like Jeremy!