This post will explain how to write and implement a Records Management policy. It will also explain the benefits of having and outline the steps involved in its development and implementation.

Records management policy files

Benefits of a Records Management Policy

There are many benefits of having good records management processes in place such as a reduced level of record-keeping redundancies, reduced costs for records storage, and increased usable office space through the elimination of unnecessary file storage.

But the task of putting together an effective records management policy can be a long process.  But, once it has been implemented one,it can have many benefits. It enables businesses to:

  • Communicate the commitment to records management and staff record keeping responsibilities.
  • Promote a corporate culture of good record keeping which ensures full and accurate records are kept
  • Outline how records should be created and stored, including requirements for document storage and document shredding — this eliminates employees questioning what should be retained or destroyed
  • Ensure compliance with information standards and legal requirements such as the Canadian Privacy Act
  • Decrease the level of risk associated with record keeping practices

Read about the 9 Major Benefits of a Record Management Service to find out more.

Components of a Records Management Policy

The policy itself should outline record keeping instructions and responsibilities in easy to understand language.

Components of a records management policy may include:

  • Purpose: What are the objectives of the policy and to explain why it is needed.
  • Policy statement: Provides a short statement regarding the commitment to good records management practices.
  • Scope: Specify who and what aspects of the business are covered. For example, which websites, email and business systems are included.
  • Goals: Define the specific goals of this policy
  • Definitions: Definition of key terms for readers to reference
  • Requirements: Covering which records needs to be kept and what the confidentiality and security rules are around them. It may also explain:
    • The process for creation and maintenance of records
    • The systems used to maintain records
    • Who can access which records
    • Processes on how to transfer records
    • Records retention practices (along with processes for storage using a Records Management Company)
    • Document Destruction protocols – once the document has completed its useful life, define how and when should it be destroyed.
  • Responsibilities: Defined for each role within a company

The Policy Development Process

As outlined by the Tasmanian Department of Education, they recommend the following method to develop a proper process.

Step 1: Plan / Establish Need:

First, identify whether a new policy is required or an existing policy can be updated and adjusted. Then you can begin planning the development of the policy. Also ensure you are working in consultation with key stakeholder groups.

Step 2: Research & Analysis / Drafting:

Begin conducting research to identify the content and direction of the policy, drafting the policy, and consulting widely to ensure that the draft addresses everything required. Consultation and analysis is very important during this stage.

Step 3: Endorsement:

Once drafted, the policy requires approval from any levels of management indicated during the planning process. These approvals should include business managers and may include relevant stakeholder groups.

Step 4: Communication / Implementation:

This step involves communicating the policy to all staff and providing training on it. For a records management policy to be effective it must be promoted, implemented, and regularly reviewed.

Step 5: Review:

Regular assessment of the policy is essential for it to remain up to date and relevant. To be effective, it is important the policy continue to align with legislation and current business practices.

Consider a Records Management Service to help

Working with a record management service is a great way to keep your important company records safe, secure, and organized. A reputable Records Management Company can also help to develop a records management policy that works for you.