How to build a records management plan for your government office
Most states, counties, and municipalities have guidelines for managing records. Unfortunately, these guidelines are rarely followed. In most cases, your office workers use the same “guidelines” created by whoever was in their position previously. While the king cake served at Barbara’s retirement party was delightful, the methodology she used for filing important records was anything but a piece of cake.
Improving your office’s records management plan starts with taking inventory of everything you manage, both on paper and in digital format.
1. Select a project Lead
Put a person in charge of documenting all record keeping procedures.
2. Take an inventory of all the records in your office.
This steps answers:
- How many records types are you responsible for?
- Which records types are vital (need to be located quickly in case of an emergency)?
- Where are your records located? Filing cabinets? Shared network drive? Offsite storage?
3. Establish record keeping procedures.
Determine how is each record indexed. What metadata needs to be captured to find the record later? Who is responsible for the safekeeping of each record type?
4. Look up record schedules to find out how long you need to keep each record type.
Some records must be kept forever while others only need to be kept for a few years. Document how to dispose of records once they are no longer needed.
5. Purge records that are no longer useful.
This helps you get an accurate depiction of the volume you will be working with and how much space you have. If you aren’t sure about a certain record schedule, stage the records until you have determined what needs to be done with them.
6. Create a master document for go-forward record keeping requirements.
This document should include:
How documents are to be organized.
- Who is responsible for each record type?
- How long do you have to keep each record type?
7. Implement the plan!
Organize the records with the guidelines you have set forth. Make sure that each record type has a file plan. It is helpful to create a document to insert in each collection.
8. Disseminate this information to all record keepers.
Make sure that your entire staff is trained on how to properly manage records in your office. It is a good practice to review these procedures annually. Do the same when a new person is brought into your department.
Crafting and executing a records management plan takes careful planning, but it can save you an abundance of time, productivity and stress over time. It only takes one or two missteps to send your team on an hours-long goose hunt, so nip this in the bud with a comprehensive plan now. Contact us for a free consultation.