Records managers: Go “RAD” and add more value to your organization.

Posted by TAB on

The discipline of records management has traditionally entailed just that – the management of the company’s official records.

As we all know, records are defined in a very specific way, which differentiates them from documents that are not essential to the organization from a legal, fiscal or historical standpoint. Over the years, the role of the records manager has been built on this central foundation. In other words, we deal with records only, which leaves a big chunk of an organization’s documents and information outside the scope of our immediate concern.

However, an excellent article on the AIIM website calls on records managers to break free of this traditional paradigm. The article makes several suggestions to help records managers increase their relevance and value to the organization. One of those suggestions is for records managers to expand the scope of their roles so that they encompass electronic documents – including those that aren’t considered records.

Is it a record? Does it matter?

Sounds a bit crazy, but it’s not. The driving force behind the recommendation is that in the eyes of the courts and industry regulators, it doesn’t matter whether a document is a record or not. As we pointed out in our post about common records retention myths, if a document is discovered during litigation it can be used against you, record or not!

All of this means that to protect your organization against the risks of litigation, someone needs to manage these non-records. Rather than get caught up in the process of defining whether emails or other types of electronic documents are records (and therefore within the scope of RM), the suggestion is to take responsibility for those documents and worry about which ones are records later.

Why? Forgetting about whether this makes RM more relevant (as the article promises), the main reason we can see is that it gives RMs an opportunity to deliver even more to the organization. In addition to minimizing the impact of litigation or audit, it would create tremendous efficiencies and productivity gains. RMs have a lot to offer in the way of proven processes and technologies for information management, so why not extend this to a much larger set of the organization’s information?

Not that the industry needs another acronym, but if we redefine RM as records and document management, would that make us “RAD” Managers?

The change would be a bit radical, but a sensible one regardless.

What do you think?

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