Peace and goodwill to all records

It’s that time of year again. The office starts to get quieter, colleagues and customers go on leave, meetings get fewer. The time where staff in organisations all over the land start to turn their attention to the long overdue task of sorting out their emails and documents. The records that you always meant to save as you went along but got distracted by other work or didn’t have time.

But before you start, STOP! Have a coffee and a mince pie and think about the following…

Check out your policies

Have a look at your organisation’s information and records management policy, retention/disposal guidance or schedules and any guidance at a business level that might exist around this. Policies like this should help you to decide what records are of value and should be kept and what systems you should be keeping them in.

Sort the wheat from the chaff

Although it is certainly tempting, don’t just dump emails or documents in bulk into systems (unless that is what your organisation asks you to do). Rubbish in, rubbish out – no one really wants to wade through a whole swathe of out of office replies or your personal emails before they find what they need. Having identified the records of value, make sure to dispose of the information no longer needed to make sure you don’t look at the same information again this time next year!

Put records in the right location

Ensure that records that need to be kept are saved in your organisation’s designated systems for managing digital records. If your organisation uses a file plan to manage its records make sure that documents and emails are saved in the right files or folders. This is even more important if records are sensitive and need to be put in an area with appropriate access permissions. Check that any records you save have a meaningful title.

Also, don’t save emails to PST files (a format often used for storing large amounts of email) in order to free up space in your inbox – this is an unsupported format and could result in you losing these emails in the future. Save them to the designated system for managing digital records.

Ask for help if you need it

Knowledge and Information Management (KIM) staff are there to help and support you, so don’t be afraid to ask for help if the guidance and policies haven’t helped answer your questions. KIM teams and information management representatives out in the business could also consider putting together an orchestrated campaign on this such as using blogs, videos, short articles or adverts on the intranet. This would help to remind staff of policies and processes around record keeping and encourage them to do the right thing.

So extend a little goodwill to your records and have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Oh and make that resolution to manage your records better next year…

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