The Complete Guide to Records Management System Records Management System (2023)

The Complete Guide to Records Management System Records Management System (1)

Businesses generate large volumes of data daily, both digital and paper. These documents can be hard to keep tracking. For instance, 46% of workers say it is often or always challenging to find the right information. Poor records management reduces productivity by over 20%. It could cost a business $20,000 per worker each year.

The solution? Businesses need a record management system to keep track of important company documents. A records management system boosts productivity and ensures you meet regulations. In this article, we’ll look at the meaning of a records management system, why it’s essential, and how to create a records management process for your business.

What Is Records Management?

Records are information a business creates in-house or receives from an external source. Usually, you keep them for compliance requirements or to show evidence of business transactions. Examples include financial documents, social media reports, and company emails. There are many records required for storage for a set period of time一for instance, tax returns are in storage for at least five years.

Records management involves creating, maintaining, using, and disposing of records. Records management aims to ensure you can access records to support business decisions and maintain records in compliance with the law.

What is the difference between records management and document management?

The main difference is you can change documents but not records. For instance, an invoice changes while you work on it, but once you complete it, it becomes a record. Not every type of document becomes a record, though.

A document management system (DMS) handles document storage, modification, and sharing. A records management system stores and maintains records based on established policies. Records management is a subdivision of document management that includes paper and electronic records management.

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The Records Management Lifecycle

This refers to all the stages a record goes through, from creation to disposal. According to the UN, there are four key stages:

  1. Creation phase
  2. Active phase
  3. Inactive phase
  4. Disposition phase

1. Creation phase

The creation phase starts as soon as a record is received or created. If you create records in-house, you should ensure the record is complete and accurate. For all records, this stage involves storage in the correct place (physically or electronically). It is also critical to assign an appropriate security level.

2. Active phase

The activate phase involves record usage, sharing, retrieval, and referral. You must preserve the integrity of the record and make it available for current business processes. Some records have a short active phase, such as payroll records, while others have a long active phase.

3. Inactive phase

The inactive phase begins when records are no longer in active use but must be kept for legal or other reasons. You should identify and list records you no longer need to keep handy in the office or shared systems. You can then transfer them to onsite storage or offsite commercial records centers.

4. Disposition phase

The final phase is the disposition of records. Disposal of records may involve deleting digital records, destroying physical records, or the records may be archived. If disposal involves destruction, you have to get the necessary permissions first.

What Is Records Management System?

In 2020, the global market for records management systems was $3.9 billion, and this could reach $8.8 billion by 2027. With these systems, you can securely manage and store records while maintaining access and leaving an audit trail. Records management systems may be fully or partially digital. But both involve using document scanners to scan physical records.

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86% of workers say they experience challenges when searching for information. A records management system can help since you can quickly find records like company invoices with a built-in search engine. To organize your records, you can add metadata and labels. The software also comes with built-in security and access authentication, and will contain much more detailed information than your call management system.

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Types of Records Management Software

There are two main types of records management software: on-premises and cloud-based. They offer the same features but differ in how they store and maintain data.

On-premises records management systems

On-premises records management systems are hosted in your servers and storage facilities.

  • Pros: You’re in control of your data, and you won’t be dependent on your internet connection to access records. You also won’t have to pay a fee to a third-party system provider.
  • Cons: On-premises systems may not be viable for small companies due to the substantial upfront costs. You’ll have to keep backups of your data, and you will be responsible for record security and maintenance.

Cloud-based records management systems

Cloud-based systems are hosted online by a software provider for a monthly or annual fee. The cost varies by provider and the number and type of features you need.

  • Pros: There are no upfront costs, and you won’t have to perform in-house maintenance. Your provider will handle security, and you can access records from anywhere as long as there’s an internet connection.
  • Cons: Most cloud-based systems have limited storage. If the internet goes down or your provider experiences a problem, you can’t access your data. Plus, the subscription cost could be expensive if you need a lot of features.
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Records Management Software Features

When choosing records management software, you should look for features like:

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  • Keyword search: 88% of workers would benefit if they could search for records from one place. So you need a system that lets you search for records based on keywords or tags.
  • Tiered access: The system should have different classification levels, like “public” or “confidential”, with corresponding access permissions. That way, only authorized employees can access records.
  • Mobile access: 43% of workers can’t access company records on a mobile device. But since so many people use their phones, a system that allows mobile access is a must-have.
  • Software integrations: It’s also helpful if you can integrate records management into business systems like your CRM or PySpark DataFrame to pandas software.
  • Scanner compatibility: Ensure the software is compatible with your document scanners.

Benefits of a Records Management System

Records management systems allow you to easily access and manage your business records. They also save time and let you focus more on critical business functions. Other benefits are:

  • Scalability: You can add users and features to support data-driven business growth.
  • Security: Only those with the correct level of authentication can access critical records.
  • Collaboration: With record management software, it’s easy to share records with coworkers on many devices.
  • Efficiency: Some systems automatically tag records, which 82% of workers say would benefit them. Most software also has keyword search features, so you don’t waste time trying to track down data.

How to Create a Records Management Process

Now let’s look at how to create proper records management practices for your business. You should:

  1. Create a records retention schedule
  2. Establish records management policies
  3. Create a procedure for records disposal

1. Create a records retention schedule

First, you must decide how long to keep records as part of a records retention schedule. You could determine how long to store records through an analysis of business needs or legal requirements. Or it could be determined by the central government or other entities. Either way, a record retention schedule should include:

  • How long you should preserve different types of records
  • Who handles electronic record retention and storage for paper records
  • How to dispose of records
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2. Establish records management policies

Next, you should put policies in place so everyone in the company knows how to manage records. You should base your policies on International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 15489 for records management. Your policies should include:

  • Who has access to records and for how long?
  • Electronic document management, including the labeling and tracking of records
  • Who should handle the monitoring and management of records?
  • Software security measures, such as Azure data lake security
  • When you will transfer records to offsite storage or destroy them

3. Create a procedure for records disposal

Lastly, you should determine how your company will destroy physical records and delete digital records. For paper records, you should:

  • Decide how to shred records (for instance, in-house or via a shredding company)
  • Ensure only authorized personnel can destroy records
  • Provide a certificate of destruction when required

For digital records, you should delete all copies of a record, including those on USB drives, CDs, computers, or mobile phones. And, like paper records, you should ensure that only authorized employees can delete records.

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The Takeaway

In order to keep track of your piling customer information, you need a records management system. A records management system saves time and improves efficiency with features like keyword search and software integrations.

You should also create policies to manage your records in line with legal requirements and business needs. These policies should cover all stages of the record lifecycle, from creation to storage and disposal. That way, your employees will always have the correct information at the right time.

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Pohan Lin – Senior Web Marketing & Localizations Manager

Pohan Lin is the Senior Web Marketing and Localizations Manager at Databricks, a global Data and AI provider connecting the features of MLOps in databricks and data warehouses to create lakehouse architecture. With over 18 years of experience in web marketing, online SaaS business, and ecommerce growth. Pohan is passionate about innovation and is dedicated to communicating the significant impact data has in marketing. Pohan Lin also published articles for domains such as SME-News.

(Video) End to End Records Management in Microsoft 365 Antonio Maio



What is a system in records management? ›

Records Management system (RMS) is the management of records for an organization throughout the records-life cycle. The activities in this management include the systematic and efficient control of the creation, maintenance, and destruction of the records along with the business transactions associated with them.

What are the key principles of good record keeping? ›

The 8 Principles are: Accountability, Transparency, Integrity, Protection, Compliance, Accessibility, Retention and Disposition. These are the “Principles” of good management of Records.

Who is responsible for records management in the Organisation NHS? ›

The Information Governance Manager is responsible for the day-to-day oversight of records management issues and for ensuring that records are handled in accordance with NHS Resolution policy and legal requirements. 4.4.

What are the 3 main types of records? ›

The following sections will provide general guidance on the disposition of 4 types of records:
  • Temporary records.
  • Permanent records.
  • Unscheduled records.
  • Records on legal hold.
15 Dec 2021

What are the types of records management system? ›

Generally speaking, there are two types of records management systems: traditional paper record management systems, and electronic record management systems.

What are 5 essential elements of an effective records management system? ›

As depicted in the image there are six (6) foundational elements:
  • Records Inventory & Classification.
  • Retention scheduling.
  • Records Storage & Conversion.
  • Vital Records Program.
  • Disaster Prevention & Recovery Planning.
  • Disposition.

What are the objectives of record management? ›

B. Records Management Objectives

Protect institutional information resources throughout their life cycle. This includes complying with state and federal laws and regulations, identifying vital records, and implementing strategies for preserving information and records of long-term value.

Why is record management important? ›

Ultimately, Records Management ensures that institutional records of vital historical, fiscal, and legal value are identified and preserved, and that non-essential records are discarded in a timely manner according to established guidelines and identified legislation.

What are the importance of records? ›

Records support openness and transparency by documenting and providing evidence of work activities and by making them available to the public. Records support quality program and services, inform decision making, and help meet organizational goals.

Who is responsible for ensuring you are trained in records management? ›

Although everyone in the organisation is responsible for record keeping, to ensure that standards are met, there are individual positions that take the lead: Managers and supervisors need to start the push for good record management.

Who is responsible for records management in the organisation? ›

Your organisation should have a designated member of staff of appropriate seniority (for example care home manager or practice manager) who leads on records management. This role should be formally acknowledged and communicated throughout the organisation. Sometimes this role is part of the information governance team.

Why is record keeping important in NHS? ›

The purpose of records is to provide a clear and precise account of the patient's healthcare journey and reflect the practitioner's assessment, planning and evaluation processes.

What are the five types of records? ›

Types of Records
  • I. Administrative Records. Records which pertain to the origin, development, activities, and accomplishments of the agency. ...
  • II. Legal Records. ...
  • III. Fiscal Records. ...
  • IV. Historical Records. ...
  • V. Research Records. ...
  • VI. Electronic Records.

What are 4 characteristics of records? ›

Characteristics of records systems
  • routinely capture records within the scope of the business activity it supports.
  • routinely create process metadata.
  • provide adequate information about the records within them.
  • have controls that will ensure accuracy and quality of records created, captured and managed.

What are the 2 general types of recording? ›

There are two types of records, Active and Inactive. There are also two major classifications, Vital and Important.

What is an example of records management? ›

The documents administered through records management include anything produced as the result of a business transaction. Examples of the records that may be managed include paper documents, audio and video recordings, emails, and instant message logs.

What are the 4 categories of retained records? ›

Records typically fall into four categories: those securing property such as titles or shares; those that mark certain crucial events such as businesses incorporations; those used for assessing operations; and those collected or retained in compliance with government regulation.

What are the three importance of record keeping? ›

Good records will help you do the following: Monitor the progress of your business. Prepare your financial statements. Identify sources of your income.

What are the tools for records management? ›

Records Management Tools
  • Authorization to Destroy Paper Records (higher ed)
  • Authorization to Destroy Paper Records (state)
  • Certification of the Preparation of Records for Microfilming.
  • Disaster Recovery Inventory Control List and Object Documentation List.
  • Destructions Log.
  • File Plan.
20 Oct 2022

What Are records management skills? ›

Records management is the process of organizing, storing and retrieving records. Records management professionals use a variety of skills to perform their duties, including customer service, data entry and organization, and critical thinking.

What are main components of an information and records management policy? ›

The main components of a records management policy are the records management program goals, records retention schedule, records disposal schedule, and records management procedures.

What is the key to record management? ›

The keys to an effective records management system are ensuring you have the right skill set, developing a classification scheme, defining a metadata model, ensuring records management is represented, leveraging staff for quality control, inviting regulatory input, and ensuring stakeholders are engaged.

What is record and types of record? ›

Records include books, letters, documents, printouts, photographs, film, tape, microfiche, microfilm, photostats, sound recordings, maps, drawings, and a voice, data, or video representation held in computer memory.” Records are retained for administrative, financial, historical, or legal reasons.

What are records systems? ›

A recordkeeping system is a shared filing system where records are captured, organized, accessed, protected, retained, and destroyed in accordance with approved records schedules.

Why do we need a record management system? ›

Benefits of Records Management include more effective management of your current records (both paper and electronic); a reduced / eliminated level of record-keeping redundancies; reduced costs for records storage equipment and supplies; and increased usable office space through the elimination of unnecessary file ...

What is an example of a document management system? ›

PDF Readers are the best example of a Document Management System through which you can access the PDF file offline and store it to view and even print and publish it anytime at any place.

What are 4 characteristics of records? ›

Characteristics of records systems
  • routinely capture records within the scope of the business activity it supports.
  • routinely create process metadata.
  • provide adequate information about the records within them.
  • have controls that will ensure accuracy and quality of records created, captured and managed.

What is the main function of records? ›

Office records provide a history of an agency's unique policies and decisions, and contain a lot of administrative, historical, and legal value — which is why it's so vital to have proper recordkeeping procedures.

What is difference between documents and records? ›

Documents and records may sound alike but there is a big difference between the two. Documents are created by planning what needs to be done and records are created when something is done and record the event. Documents can be revised and change, where as records don't (must not) change.

What are examples of records? ›

Examples include documents, books, paper, electronic records, photographs, videos, sound recordings, databases, and other data compilations that are used for multiple purposes, or other material, regardless of physical form or characteristics.

Who is responsible for records management? ›

Record custodians maintain, secure, and care for records in accordance with company guidelines. This individual is the manager of a unit assigned to the role by the record proprietor. In some cases the record proprietor and record custodian may be the same person, and there could actually be more than one custodian.

What are the three importance of record-keeping? ›

Good records will help you do the following: Monitor the progress of your business. Prepare your financial statements. Identify sources of your income.

What is effective records management? ›

Proper records retention and disposition is key to an effective records management program. It ensures that records are present when needed for litigation, audits, day-to-day business purposes, or historical research, but that unneeded records do not take up costly storage space.

What is document management system PDF? ›

Document management system is a software used to capture, store, manage, and easily retrieve digital documents within an organization. It provides the needed functionalities for businesses to digitize documents and automate their business processes.

How do you manage internal documents? ›

Best Practices for Managing Internal Documentation
  1. Assess the Documentation You Already Have. ...
  2. Assign Knowledge Champions. ...
  3. Plan the Structure of Your Internal Documentation. ...
  4. Keep it Simple and Accessible. ...
  5. Choose the Right Documentation Tool. ...
  6. Don't Over-Document. ...
  7. Add Visuals to Your Docs. ...
  8. Work From a Style Guide.
23 Sept 2021

What are 5 essential elements of an effective records management system? ›

As depicted in the image there are six (6) foundational elements:
  • Records Inventory & Classification.
  • Retention scheduling.
  • Records Storage & Conversion.
  • Vital Records Program.
  • Disaster Prevention & Recovery Planning.
  • Disposition.

What are the stages of records life cycle? ›

According to the life cycle concept, records go through three basic stages: creation (or receipt), maintenance and use, and. disposition.


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