It is important for all organizations, large or small, to have good record-keeping procedures. Records hold essential information for day-to-day running of an organization. They are effectively the “memory” of an organization.
Records meet various requirements. They store information about personnel, customers, clients and the organization itself. They contain evidence of business transactions. Records also meet legal and accountability responsibilities. For example, they can prove that the organization has paid the right taxes, and complied with the legal requirements in various areas. They also used to maintain important historical records of the organization.
Forms of records
Records come in different forms. They can be electronic data store or they can be hard copy. Some organizations (though not the average office) keep records on microfilm.
Records vary depending on the type of organization. However, there are some kinds of records which all organizations keep. These include copies of correspondence, financial records and details of wages paid to staff.
What ever records the organization keeps, the filing system should allow staff members to find the information they need quickly and efficiently. The organization should have a filing procedures manual in which these details are outlines.
Centralized and Decentralized records
Many large organizations have a centralized records department. This means that all the records are kept in one place. The centralized record department has the responsibility for records for the whole organization and has total control over the distribution and release of information.
Decentralized records may be decentralized with central control or have autonomous control. This system has become more common in recent times. May organizations and departments now control and maintain their own records.
The advantages of decentralized records are that there is easy access to files and that each section has control of its records within its own area. The disadvantages are that each section needs to have the right equipment for record-keeping and more staff need to have the expertise to keep records correctly.
Many organizations use a combination of centralized and decentralized records.
Records management covers the complete cycle of record from its creation to its disposal. The complete cycle is:
- Records creation
- Records maintenance
- Records utilization and transmission
- Records retention
- Records disposal
Filing means classifying, sorting, arranging and storing records according to particular classifications.
The six most common types of classification are:
Organizations choose the classification that suits their needs.