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Records Management Components

Marketing Team - Friday, February 21, 2014

Records Management: Who Needs It?

What is a Record? Information created, received and maintained as evidence and information by an organization or person in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business (ISO 15489)

ISO does not limit the definition to hard copy only. The content of websites, portals, shared repositories, voicemail's, text messages may also be considered records.
Whether your business is a publicly traded multi-national corporation or a sole proprietorship servicing one community, you need to manage your business records.


Why?
  • Litigation – there is no question that the United States is the most litigious country in the world.  You need to maintain business records that support your business decisions, your operations and your treatment of individuals for the length of time required by agencies regulating your business, and, as dictated by the statutes of limitations for others to bring a claim against you.

 

  • Corporate Culture – a Records Management Program covers the how to’s:
      • How to “write for the record”
      • How to write a business email
      • How to and when to dispose of drafts
      • How to consistently classify and label documents
      • How to dispose of records and non-records
  • Cost Control – If you don’t need it for legal, regulatory or operational reasons, why keep it? 
      • Keeping records beyond their useful life leaves them open to discovery.
      • If you don’t have a records program in place and the judge in your litigation finds you “grossly negligent”, your insurance company may not cover an imposed fine.
      • Why pay to store records that are no longer required or useful?
  • Improved Customer Service – When you keep the only the most active records close by or online, retrieval time to look up a customer question or address a complaint takes seconds or minutes instead of hours and days. 

Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure assumes that you have a records program in place and in use.

  • Safe Harbor isn’t available to you if you don’t have a program in place.  Asafe harbor is a provision of a statute or a regulation that specifies that certain conduct will be deemed not to violate a given rule, such as a requirement to keep a record for a certain period of time.
  • Inability to provide responsive material because it’s too expensive may not be an accepted reason by the court:
  • §  “Failure to adopt a compliant records retention and destruction protocol that permits cost effective access to relevant records and creates an audit trail subjects the non-compliant litigant to sanctions and constitutes spoliation”

Starbucks Corp. v. ADT Security Services, Inc. 2009


Implementing a records program after you’ve been in business for a few years (or more) is, undoubtedly, a financial commitment to make initially.  Not having it is expensive for the life of your company with year after year of increasing costs to store, search through and respond to litigation.   
 




Cheryl Young
Information Governance Specialist
Western Integrated Systems
 

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