Records and Information Management (RIM), is a critical area of compliance for any organization. Both paper and digital records come within its purview. It is incumbent upon organizations to maintain records according to regional, national and even international level regulations. Violation of norms set down by these laws results in hefty fines. There are instances of well-known companies facing crippling monetary penalties for non-compliance with RIM legislation.
Businesses must safeguard their records and secure customer data. RIM systems must be updated to keep in sync with the latest regulations.
This however, is easier said than done—regulations change frequently and business owners will need to understand nuances of the laws to ensure they are compliant. You’re never done-and-dusted with RIM; records management is a continuous activity. It requires strict enforcement of rules throughout the document lifecycle.
Non-compliance is simply not an option! It can have monetary consequences and erode profit margins. RIM violations may well lead to bad press and scare off potential clients. But this doesn’t mean that RIM compliance is challenging to achieve.
Follow these steps to get started on a strategy to achieve RIM compliance:
1. Stay abreast of the latest changes in records management legislation
Seismic shifts in RIM legislation may require an overhaul of your organization’s records management practices. Rest assured that the Government gives organizations ample time to adjust to major changes in legislation. However, there will be deadlines for you to comply with the new compliance requirements. Make sure you don’t miss the deadline to avoid penalties. Start making changes to your internal RIM policy as soon as new legislation is signed.
2. Remember that even a single violation can cost your business dearly
Lapses in compliance with records management regulations put your organization in a vulnerable position. Violations result in significant financial consequences, in addition to potential legal issues for leaders and owners. Understand the potential ramifications of not properly following relevant legislation. Prioritize changes in records management strategies to adjust your operations to comply with records management best practices.
3. Identify gaps in your current records management process
Conduct a thorough and impartial audit of your organization’s records management practices. Pinpoint the changes that will be needed to make your RIM policy fully compliant:
- Make sure that information is searchable and accessible by employees as needed.
- Enable appropriate access control for physical documents and electronic records.
- Put in checks and balances to ensure documents or electronic records are not lost, damaged or accidentally deleted.
- Review your organization’s document retention strategies.
- Set down guidelines for appropriate disposal of expired content.
- Clearly define and assign specific responsibilities to employees who will implement the changes in an end-to-end manner.
4. Do your records management processes promote overall efficiency?
While you work out strategies and processes to respond to changes in records management legislation, remember to estimate how much extra time is required to align with the changes. Due diligence is crucial but needs to be optimized to preserve overall and enhance organizational productivity and efficiency. Assess the cost of compliance changes. Make sure they are budgeted for.
5. Consider digitization to ease compliance to records management legislation
It is crucial to find the most efficient, effective and inexpensive way to comply with RIM regulations. If your organization relies heavily on physical records, consider digitizing your records. A modern document management system (DMS) makes the records management easy and efficient. The first reaction to this suggestion from business leaders and owners is usually that this is an expensive and time-consuming proposition. Consider this:
- Digitization saves time and costs in the long run. This outweighs the short-term expense.
- Digital records are easier to access, search, share and store.
- Electronic data reduces the risk of data loss from disasters and accidents.
- Digital records are easier to secure with data encryption technologies such as SSL.
- It is easier to integrate electronic data with other business systems and provide richer data to employees so they can make better data-driven decisions.
- Compliance with RIM regulations is easier when records are digitized.
RIM regulations are designed to protect the interests of businesses as well as safeguard customers and end-users. It is important not to feel overwhelmed by the apparent challenges. Focus instead on how these RIM strategies help your organization to safeguard business information and ensure the security of critical customer data.
Businesses must develop a clear and actionable records management strategy, define processes and procedures to manage business records. Conduct systematic research of required changes to the current policies. Regularly audit your RIM processes and adapt to new regulations early.
Let’s summarize the important aspects of compliance with records management legislation:
- Integrate record management best practices into everyday operations.
- Communicate RIM policies clearly to all employees and explain to them the importance of compliance.
- Proactively implement best practices before you run into issues with non-compliance or face loss of documents.
- Enforce security measures to prevent information leaks and safeguard important documents and client records.
- Ensure electronic records are protected from security breaches, hacking, and accidental deletion.
Document management systems (DMS) assist in recording, tracking and monitoring records. It is advisable to seek out the services of an expert document management company to implement the system. MES Hybrid Document Systems has extensive experience in implementing document management systems for clients.
Our experienced staff takes the hassle out of your document management project by managing every aspect including planning, implementation, project management, training and ongoing support.
We offer a range of document management and enterprise content management products designed to meet your needs and budget. Get a free quote today!