DefinitionsThe ISO standard definition for records is as follows:
"Information created, received, and maintained as evidence and information by an organization or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business."The ISO standard definition for records management is as follows:
"The field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including the processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records."The Information and Records Management Society (formerly the Records Management Society) defines records management as:
"The process by which an organisation manages all the elements of records whether externally or internally generated and in any format or media type, from their inception/receipt, all the way through to their disposal."
The application of records management within an organisation covers a broad range of areas including: policies, responsibilities, authorities, procedures, guidelines, services relating to the management and use of records, systems for managing records, and the integration of records management into business systems and processes.
Benefits of records managementThere are a lot of good reasons to support the need for records management, including:
- To aid operation as an agile, modern, efficient organisation
- To provide the proactive, consistent and comprehensive approach needed to cope with current and future demands
- To enable the organisation to do more with less
- To structure and make available the institutional memory. Higher staff turnover and restructuring mean that institutional memory is no longer in individuals, but in records
- To yield the value in records, such as embracing the lessons learned from past experience
- To help protect rights and interests. Records are the evidence left behind from activities
- To demonstrate traceability and accountability
- To support compliance. Compliance requires a body of records to prove actions, why they were taken, on whose authority, and what were their outcomes. This is particularly relevant for the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as recommended in the "Lord Chancellor's Code of Practice on the Management of Records under Section 46 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000"