Are you ready to practice good electronic records management? In “Best Practices for Document Management in an Emerging Digital Environment,” consultant Richard Barry, principal of Arlington, Va.-based Barry Associates, suggests asking these questions.
1. Is your documents database separate from your applications or business rules database so that system upgrades don’t affect your documents? And do you capture essential information about your records, such as author, business unit, document type and retention life?
2. Do you have a firm grasp of the laws and standards for which records that companies in your industry must keep, as well as rules on legal evidence?
3. Have you considered how you’ll keep pace with future document formats such as videoconferencing and files generated by collaboration tools?
4. Are your record-keeping standards linked to organizational business goals and processes? And do you abide by them? It won’t look good to a judge if you destroy some records sporadically and have no established purpose for holding on to others.
5. Are your systems reliable? And can they flag when records have been changed or destroyed maliciously or unintentionally? If not, it may be tough to defend the accuracy of your records and soundness of your record-keeping policies.