Solving the challenges of energy records management: 6 best practices

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We recently looked at four trends that make it difficult to manage records in the energy sector. Between acquisitions, consolidation, imaging and hybrid records, the energy industry throws plenty of curveballs at records managers. In this post we’ll look at several best practices to help you overcome the most common challenges in energy records management.

You can use these as a checklist to compare your current practices and identify opportunities to improve your records management program.

Energy Records Management Best Practices

1. Embrace the hybrid environment.
The reality for today’s energy companies is that any given file may exist in both paper and electronic formats. To ensure that all records are complete, it is important to embrace the hybrid environment and avoid an “either / or” approach to identifying your files.

2. Always identify the official record.
Given the reality behind tip #1, it is always essential to know which actual document will be the official record of any business transaction, especially in the highly regulated energy industry. When identifying the official record, keep in mind that the original format is generally preferred in legal contexts.

3. Purge non-records.
Once the official record has been identified, you should review both paper and electronic content for unnecessary copies, drafts and other non-records. While the existence of these copies may serve a purpose for a time, it is essential that they are identified and destroyed as soon as their administrative need has been served. “Rogue” copies will often hang around longer than the official record itself, which exposes your organization to unnecessary risk, especially during a legal discovery.

4. Standardize your format for official records.
To assist with tip #3, many energy companies will establish standard formats in which official records are to be kept. This makes it easier to establish control over official records and manage them throughout their lifecycle. When considering the standards you will use within your organization, keep in mind that energy sector has adopted industry-wide standards, which should be adhered to wherever possible.

5. Plan your imaging programs carefully.
Imaging programs present their own unique RM challenges so it is important to carefully consider which records you’ll scan and how you’ll manage them after scanning. For example, while the law may prefer records in their original format, not all records must stay in that format forever. Evidence laws and rules of court in most legal jurisdictions provide for the conversion of records under an imaging program – but they may also set strict conditions that have to be met for the converted copy to stand in the place of the original.

6. Enlist the help of records management software. 
Many of the tips and best practices suggested here are much easier to accomplish with the help of an RM software solution. A total solution, such as TAB FusionRMS, recognizes and easily accommodates the role of both paper and electronic records, enabling the consistent application of RM best practices to each format.

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