A Comprehensive Guide to Records and Information Management
In today’s day and age, every business collects and maintains sensitive information. Properly managing documents — electronic and otherwise — is imperative for all organizations. The ability to assess and analyze document management needs has been identified as a critical success factor for the constantly evolving world of business. But establishing effective records management extends beyond adopting a new course of action. Instead, the specific procedures for a given organization should be explicitly understood and consistently executed in a comprehensive outline.
Embassy Records Management and Storage offers insight to the integral aspects and experiences of record management through the “Records Management Manual”.
IMPORTANCE OF RECORD MANAGEMENT
Records and Information Management is the corporate area of endeavor involving the administration of all business records throughout their life cycle. Implementing a RIM strategy is essential for enterprise information management, business intelligence/analytics, regulatory compliance, and data recovery. These areas of corporate concern are often overwhelmed by the circumstances of which they are consumed: paper files, electronic files, hard drive data, email, social media, and more. Companies are also subject to industry specific regulations, increasing both complications and additional challenges. Organizations need to actively and accurately advance their practices of proper record information management.
RIM must be understood at every level of an organization to be effective. Establishing a clear and consistent procedure will institute it as essential within your company. To have competent employees to execute proper record management, awareness and education should be administered by an executive. Having an advocate from a position of power should be able to influence and ensure compliant practices. Ideally, a member of each department should be designated as accountable for implementation within their units. They will be responsible for ensuring that each employee understands the policy and procedures and require them to formally acknowledge such. By identifying managerial individuals, there should be a clear outlet for communication and concerns. The committee will also need to proactively address the constantly evolving regulatory controls for RIM.
Establish a RIM program to be administered by executive employees. Including representation from legal, IT, risk management, and human resource areas should allow for strategic insight and complete oversight of policy and procedures.
Identify a records manager to administer and facilitate the program. They should consistently communicate to members within each department at appropriate intervals to assess the current state of RIM within the corporation. Additionally, the records manager should offer and/or approve updates concerning staff and system resources.
Educate all employees by providing RIM training and certification. Exposure early and often to appropriate resources should ensure proper policy engagement. Information should then be consistently communicated among all employees and emphasized by executives.
A credible RIM program should be centered around a records retention schedule which withholds the right information for the correct length of time. The program should primarily concern avoiding risk and litigation by protecting organizational assets. The record retention schedule should inform of the proper length of time to keep records per legal, regulatory and operational requirements. The records retention schedule should represent all files in all formats that your organization is accountable for. A compliant schedule will not only protect records but also define instructions for secure document destruction. This is an integral aspect of retention, as records should be disposed of in a controlled and arranged manner at the end of their useable life. The records lifecycle consists of discrete activities from the initial creation until it is eventually archived or destroyed.
Establishing a compliant records retention schedule begins with understanding the business climate of your organization. Assessing risk and assigning resources will be most effective when evaluated through industry specific regulations. Companies should be aware of commonly litigated, investigated or audited information in order to protect customers, employees and executives.
Operational retention requirements should be accounted for, in addition to legal requirements. Operational retention plans provide an exception for previously recognized procedure. Adjustments of policy must be approved in accordance with RIM, and only if the requested retention period exceeds legal requirements.
Each records retention schedule should be concentrated on the legal requirements of a given industry. Legislation regarding information privacy is becoming increasingly rigorous and continues to be strictly enforced. State and federal rules must be adhered to at a minimum. Additional legal research will explicate the retention period for each record class. Conducting such research often requires the assistance of legal counsel, consultants or external experts. Companies should also consider the statutes of limitation and the limitation of actions which frame potential lawsuits to be filed or fines occurring at the time of establishment of organization’s record retention. It is imperative to state a specific event to nullify a record e.g. employee separation or business merger. Once the record becomes inactive, the retention period may begin in accordance with policies and procedures.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
Stored Communications Act
Establish a RIM program which encompasses all files in all formats as administered by the company. The program should accurately and explicitly define retention requirements, as well as conditions for archival or destruction.
Identify which records which are essential to legal and operational functions of the company’s customers, employees and executives. Express retention periods specific to state, federal and organizational requirements.
Implement actions to preserve records which are consistent with policy and procedure. Conduct annual examinations of records to ensure the status of active, inactive, and archived records.
ASSESSMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION
An organization’s RIM program is implemented through a clear assessment of policy and an implemented procedure consistent with legal and operational requirements. The RIM policy should be concise in length but inclusive of information e.g. records ownership, records lifecycle, legal restrictions, roles and responsibility, training, maintenance and audits. The instructions for record management across any format should be explicit in context. Communicating clear expectations will afford consistent execution within your organization.
Establish a policy and procedure compliant to legal and operational requirements. Incorporate roles and responsibilities related to the administration of RIM within your organization.
Identify a procedure for record management, record storage and document destruction accordingly. Communicate the importance of a compliant and centralized RIM system.
Align expectations to be consistent amid the organization. Record management and retention should be accurately explained in reference to file formatting, active or inactive status, and legal or operational obligations.
OVERVIEW OF SERVICES
Business records often contain sensitive information which involve strict enforcement of legislation for secure destruction. It is imperative to destroy documents at the end of their useable life to protect privacy and liability.
Proper disposal of sensitive information can positively impact the environment without compromising confidentiality. All paper products disposed of with us are recycled for a greener process.
HARD DRIVE AND MEDIA DESTRUCTION
Electronic media has become essential in this day and age. All hard drives and media including sensitive information can be destroyed at our facility to render the data unrecoverable.
Storing documents onsite increases vulnerability, cost and clutter in the workspace. Controlling documents within our indexed storage system offers protection, preservation and constant access to your organization’s critical information.
Other material objects not in regular use can be stored at our facility. The same security and convenience is offered for alternative items that contain confidential information.
Converting from paper to digital data is critical to remain effective and competitive. Security, compliance and cost-effectiveness are integral aspects to providing instant and efficient document imaging services.
Business records inherently contain sensitive and confidential information. To protect the privacy of your company, customers and employees, it is important to ensure proper destruction of documents. Disposal should minimize ligation cost and risk while complying with legal and organizational regulations. A secure procedure should be determined by the organization’s RIM administration in agreement with legal, IT and compliance experts. The systematic process of destruction will make efforts of a compliant organization apparent.
Records and their retention requirements, as noted in the records retention schedule, should be carefully observed. Once a record reaches the end of its useable life, it may then move to be destroyed, provided it is not on hold for a legal purpose e.g. litigation, audit, government investigation or Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Corporations are continuously impacted by change among laws and regulations which mandate information privacy and disposal. An alternative disposal method is the movement of a record to an authorized archive for preservation and prolonged access. Documents identified as substantial to the development of an organization are considered “archival”. Aside from these exceptions, it is in the best interest of all involved is to securely destroy official or unofficial, confidential or non-confidential records.
Establish destruction procedures with the records retention schedule that demonstrates recognition of confidentiality requirements and institute an appropriate method of destruction or archival by record classification.
Identify records which contain personally identifiable information. Ensure that such documents be securely destroyed after serving their purpose to avoid civil or criminal liability.
Determine the necessary authorization required for review and approval of destruction according to the imposed records retention schedule. Records that no longer need to be retained should be reviewed for accurate compliance with the policy and procedures in place.
Destroy all official documents once they have met previously stated retention requirements. Certify compliance by maintaining accurate destruction reports and a complete destruction catalogue which contains details such as content, authorization and destruction dates.
Shredding appropriate documents is efficient within document retention and the eventual destruction of documents. When converting to paperless systems, purging old files or evaluating the status of current records, it remains an important part of any organization’s process of providing complete confidentiality.
WHY SHRED DOCUMENTS?
If your company is uncertain whether shredding services should be obtained, consider the following questions to determine if the need exists:
Are there documents, hard drives or other media either stacked or in storage around the office?
Are you unsure of how long to retain documents and decide when it is appropriate to shred them?
Is your small, standard office-sized shredder too slow to effectively destroy of the volume of paper your company needs to dispose of?
Are employees spending too much time shredding documents containing confidential information?
The preceding questions should determine if your organization should utilize document shredding services. If so, Embassy Records Management and Storage can also help explain the proper parameters of the document retention process.
PAPER SHREDDING — PROTECTING INFORMATION THEFT
Corporate theft of information, including that of their clients’, is estimated to cost domestic companies up to half a trillion dollars per calendar year. The single most common place that such information is found is a company’s trash receptacles. When paperwork is disposed of publicly, those contents may be legally accessed by anyone.
PAPER SHREDDING — PREVENTING IDENTITY THEFT
Identity theft, the most prevalent form of information theft, has been acknowledged as the fastest growing white collar criminal act. In 2014, The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated 17.6 million Americas — approximately 7% of U.S. residents over sixteen years old — were victims of identity theft. Confidential information e.g. social security numbers, credit card numbers and bank accounts are often obtained through company records. If found guilty of negligence of confidential information, companies can face legal consequences.
PAPER SHREDDING — IMPROVING PRODUCTIVITY
Companies can account for employee’s effective time management by minimalizing office chores. Offering large and locking containers for confidential information decreases time consumption and increases compliance of proper disposal.
PAPER SHREDDING — ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
Proper disposal of sensitive information can positively impact the environment without compromising confidentiality. Paper should be recognized for the important part it plays in our environment — from forest destruction to overflowing landfills. Being environmentally conscious, by recycling all disposed paper products, is something any and every business should successfully promote.
PAPER SHREDDING SERVICES
One-Time Paper Shredding
Routinely Scheduled Paper Shredding
ONE-TIME PAPER SHREDDING
Embassy Records Management and Storage offers one-time bulk shreds as needed at your business or residential location for documents such as inactive client records, bank account statements or any other document which includes sensitive and confidential information. Our NAID certified service is fast, efficient and cost-effective without compromising any standards of security.
We offer onsite, offsite and plant-based shredding — all services safely and securely destroying documents. For onsite shredding, one of our certified and uniformed employees will retrieve your records. The documents are then destroyed in our mobile shred units, allowing you to witness the process and provide peace of mind. Offsite shredding involves our employees collecting your files and transporting them back to our facility. The files remain locked in our company vehicles until arrival, where they will be placed in our secure staging area within our monitored building until shredded. Customers may also bring sensitive material to our facility to be destroyed at our site. Due to security and liability concerns, we do not provide witnessed destruction to walk in customers. A certificate of destruction is available for each NAID certified service upon completion.
ROUTINELY SCHEDULED PAPER SHREDDING
For continuous shredding and document destruction needs, Embassy Records Management and Storage offers secure, locked containers for the utmost convenience. The containers are mobile and able to conceal well within commercial environments. It is not required to remove common items such as staples, or paperclips before placing documents into the container. Our advanced, industrial machines will scatter and shred with titanium blades, ensuring that all material is unable to be reconstructed.
Customers of our reoccurring services are able to determine a shredding schedule designed around their company’s needs. Routine shreds are serviced monthly, bimonthly or quarterly — or however often needed. On the predetermined dates, customers will be met by a uniformed Embassy employee who will collect all containers and shred its contents onsite using our mobile shred vehicles. Our detail-oriented staff will certify that everything is destroyed under your supervision, after which all empty containers are replaced for ongoing use.
POST PAPER SHRED RECYCLING
As a part of our commitment to provide exceptional service, Embassy Records Management and Storage recycles 100% of shredding products. Each bale contains 2,640 pounds of shredded material. Recycling just one ton of paper saves up to: 17 trees, 3 cubic yards in a landfill, nearly 7,000 gallons of water, 100 gallons of gasoline, 4,000 KW of electricity and prevents as much as 60 pounds of air pollutants. Protecting the environment, much like your confidential information, is something that we take seriously as your shredded paper goes on to become the recycled paper products of the future.
HARD DRIVE AND MEDIA DESTRUCTION
Simply erasing, resetting or degaussing hard drives leaves both you and your customers exposed to information theft. Now, more than ever, it is critical to protect your company’s confidential information within electronic media. Hard drive and media destruction is the only secure way to prevent retrieval and restoration of data. Embassy Records Management and Storage provides destruction services for a wide range of products including:
Hard Drives (laptop, desktop, etc.)
Circuits Board (computers, copiers, etc.)
Optical Media (CDs, DVDs, tapes, film, photos, etc.)
Personally Identifiable Material Items (IDs, badges, credit cards, pill bottles, flash drives, etc.)
Crushing or shredding devices ensures that the electronic information is rendered unrecoverable before being recycled. A certificate of destruction is available for the NAID certified service upon completion.
SECURE RECORD STORAGE
Secure offsite record storage allows for additional real estate and organization within your work environment. Embassy Records Management and Storage provides this professional services as defined in our name. Our solutions utilize innovative technology to cover the entire spectrum of records and information management.
Our facility has an advanced racking and tracking system to make retrieval as efficient as possible. Legal and letter boxes are available in different sizes for secure storage of sensitive information. Each box is individually coded and scanned into a specific location. If your company requires more detailed access, each file within each box can be coded at request. Often, documents are valuable to have on hand as a reliable record for reference and in some cases, required by law. Using our client portal, you can search and locate exact records for online retrieval requests. Retrievals can also be requested directly to our employees through telephone or e-mail correspondence. All documents are available for same day, after hours and expedited pick-up and delivery.
In addition to being cost and time effective, the system offers a comprehensive inventory analysis. All interactions and status updates of each coded document is record. Both companies and customers are able to accurately track records from the initial composition until it has completed retention. In an effort to provide complete customer satisfaction, Embassy Records Management and Storage will monitor documents which have clear and communicated record retention schedules. Companies will be notified once documents have met their retention requirements, and confidential documents can be securely destroyed onsite.
STORAGE SERVICES INCLUDE
Document Coding and Scanning
Document Disposal, if needed
Customer satisfaction, along with security, is one of our top concerns at Embassy Records Management and Storage. Commercial and residential customers may utilize our secure storage system for any items that can be boxed. Non-document storage offers the same AAA NAID certified, climate controlled facility and retrieval process.
Electronic Data Management
The conversion from paper documents to digital is critical in the competitive business climate today. The public sector is continually progressing to create electronic applications or scan current records into digital images. Imaging services can potentially improve efficiency, accessibility, and comprehensive management within a company. They often save time and money, create office space, and preserve natural resources while securely organizing sensitive information.
Companies can achieve efficient, electronic data management with Embassy Records Management and Storage. Our imaging services allow for the scanning, processing, and archiving of data into easily accessible electronic files, which can be entered into databases and delivered through other applications. Our on-staff experts use the latest in imaging technology to efficiently scan and archive data to be viewed online or exported. Once documents are digital, information is able to be searched based on keywords or overall content of the document. Attention to legal liability requirements is essential for conversion within a consistent records management system. Carbon copies produced by technology are considered legal for all purposes, including evidence and compliance. The originals can be destroyed as there is no obligation to retain two records with the same legal status. There are exceptions, such as wills or promissory notes, which can be identified within your industry. Careful examination should occur before the systematic destruction of inactive records to avoid information infringement and additional storage costs.
Embassy Records Management and Storage provides scanning services for a wide range of products including:
Photos and Film
Medical Records and X-Rays
Print Media (books, newspapers, etc.)
Architectural and Engineering Drawings
Establish which documents should be scanned rather than retained in paper form. The cost of imagining can be offset with the efficient access, increased productivity of employees, and organization of essential company information.
Identify that the scanned images are accurate according to their original arrangement and afford clear content. The digital documents should then be indexed and organized within a system which controls access to authorized individuals.
Ensure that the electronic storage system is consistent and compatible with the implemented RIM procedure. Legal consultation should certify that personally identifiable information and other sensitive information is protected from interference. Digital data must also be managed in terms of document destruction in compliance with record retention requirements.