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Records Management

What is Records Management?
"Records Management is a discipline which utilises an administrative system to direct and control the creation, version control, distribution, filing, retention, storage and disposal of records, in a way that is administratively and legally sound, whilst at the same time serving the operational needs of the business and preserving an adequate historical record."

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Records management: Five key points
Good Records Management practice:
  • Helps you to do your job better: it supports ease and efficiency of working because you can find the information you need, when you need it.

  • Protects you and the business: it provides evidence of people's rights and entitlements, and shows what they did and why they did it.

  • Saves your time by ensuring you can find the information you need easily.

  • Reduces costs, particularly space costs, by ensuring you don't keep any more records than you have to, and that you know when you can delete or destroy them

  • Gives you records you can rely on, both by helping you to find the appropriate version and, by giving records a high value as evidence if they are needed in a court of law.
Why should we bother with records management?
There are many benefits to be gained from implementing records management. The business records management framework document identifies the main benefits that the business hopes to gain by introducing and improving records management practices. This page describes some of those benefits in greater detail.

Business Benefits
Records management is a key driver in increasing organisational efficiency and offers significant business benefits.
  • Records management improves the use of staff time by reducing the time spent looking for information. The reduction is achieved because information can be retrieved quickly and reliably. A number of organisations have tried to calculate how much staff time is spent retrieving information. One estimate from a consultancy firm is that 10% of administrative staff time is spent retrieving information of one sort or another.

  • Records management facilitates the sharing of information. This enables staff to access the "collective memory" which provides precedents for actions and should prevent the need to spend time and resources "re-inventing the wheel". Better access to information also improves decision-making.

  • Records management reduces the unnecessary duplication of information. By reducing the amount of unnecessary information held it is easier for individuals to concentrate on managing the necessary information for which they are responsible.

  • Records management identifies how long records need to be kept before they can be destroyed, and by doing so it reduces the costs associated with retaining unnecessary information, such as storage costs, server costs and costs associated with servicing information.

  • Records management optimises the legal admissibility of our records and by doing so will protects individuals and the business from malicious litigation, as society becomes increasingly litigious. Legal admissibility is optimised when we can demonstrate the authenticity of our records. As electronic records are increasingly becoming the "golden copy", and as records in this format present special challenges it is important that proper consideration is given to the legal admissibility of our records.

  • Records management identifies how long records are needed and by doing so identifies those records that are needed in the medium and long term. When those records are held in electronic format it is crucial that they are identified as soon as possible to protect them from loss. Electronic records are increasingly difficult to access over time because of hardware obsolescence, software updates and storage media failure. Records management identifies those records that need to be protected for future use and implements appropriate protection methods.

  • Records management supports risk management and business continuity planning. Records management identifies which records are vital to the running of the business and supports the business continuity or disaster plan. A disaster plan helps not only to reduce the risks of a disaster occurring but also ensures the ongoing operation of the business continues if a disaster does occur. 10 years ago, when the following statistics were compiled, 40% of organisations which suffered a disaster went out of business within a year; 43% never re-opened and 29% ceased trading within 2 years; 93% of firms that had a major data processing disaster were out of business within 5 years. These statistics demonstrate how important records are to business continuity and why it is crucial to identify which records need priority measures taken to protect and recover them.
In short, records management improves control over our information assets, which has benefits in freeing up staff time and other resources, and will help protect individuals and the business from various risks. Records management means that we don't have to "muddle through" hoping that all will be well, for example by placing too much reliance on the memories of a few individuals.

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