Insights From 25 Years of Records Management

The Rise of Records Regulations

While government, legal and healthcare entities have traditionally maintained a disciplined approached to records management, most other industries were less regimented. In 2001, the Enron/Anderson scandal triggered increased interest among corporations to take records management more seriously. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 established new and enhanced standards for U.S. companies to strengthen corporate accounting controls and established criminal penalties for manipulation, destruction or alteration of financial records-all of which required more standardization of records management practices within an organization.

With the media spotlight on the industry, records management experienced an abrupt change. Managing information shifted from what many perceived to be a very low administrative task to a critical function affecting the entire staff with accountability designated to the most senior levels of the organization. The need to access business information in real-time grew in line with the emphasis on regulation. Businesses looked to information management suppliers for consultancy services, retention policy counseling, offsite storage solutions, escrow services and destruction policies.

Data Privacy

The increased use of the Internet and the resulting prevalence of identity theft resulted in the Data Privacy Act (DPA) of 1998, with the European Union acting on the need for enforceable data privacy laws. A set of rules were created to govern how personally identifiable information is stored and used, and was adapted in many other countries, including the United States. This option created a Safe Harbor for those U.S. organizations that want to exchange data with E.U. countries freely so that any organization that was certified as having complied with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s provisions of data privacy were deemed to have Safe Harbor with the E.U. data privacy directive.When an organization voluntarily certifies itself to Safe Harbor, it agreed to follow the provisions of information handling and held responsible for adhering to those principles.

Data Privacy also became an issue of interest for records management professionals. Their role had traditionally been primarily to protect an organization’s records but the growing need to ensure that individual’s information was maintained and destroyed appropriately, brought a greater focus to retention schedules and destruction policies.

A Global Economy Emerges

The global economy has been growing at a rapid pace, opening up foreign investments and double digit growth in developing markets around the world. India and China led the way, followed by the flourishing markets of Brazil, Russia and Vietnam. The Middle East is thriving and foreign direct investment is having a direct impact on the economies of Africa. All of this growth has shifted the way organizations are looking at how they manage their business information.

The investment records management professionals are making in standardized processes in their American, European or Asian Headquarters are being rolled out into the developing countries. Similar to many other industries, they are seeing the value in developing global and regional processes and relying on global and regional records management providers to help them educate and implement their policies around the world.

The Myth of the Paperless Office

No one knows the exact origin of the term “paperless office” but it was recorded in a copy of the U.S. magazine Business Week in 1975-32 years ago. At that time it was predicted that the advent of the computer would mean that paper would no longer be used in business. That prediction has certainly not come true. People still want to print out-quickly, flawlessly and in vibrant color. In a world of multiple vendors with incompatible systems and an influx of new regulatory requirements, hard copies are the reality. edrms project managers

In line with stringent regulatory requirements, having real-time access to the information that’s embedded in hard copies is imperative. Records management professionals became aware that despite the hype, they would have to find solutions to transform their hard copies into electronic data. Providers developed solutions using new technologies such as scanning, imaging, data conversion and data hosting, to help their clients manage, access, protect and archive both their hard copies and their electronic business information.

Responding to A Responsible World

Today, the world is eagerly responding to a global call for conservation. David Muir, CEO of Crown Records Management in EMEA, talked about efforts Crown has been making in the U.K. “As part of our contribution towards a cleaner, greener environment and reducing our carbon footprint, Crown Records Management has taken delivery of its first ever electric vehicle. The design has been adapted mechanically to run using battery power only, lending itself to zero carbon emissions, noise and exhaust pollution, and all its components can be recycled. We have also started using motorcycles to deliver smaller records to its clients, which also helps reduce its carbon emissions.” Many records management providers are seeking the ISO 14000 environmental management standards certification. The certification exists to help organizations minimize how their operations negatively affect the environment, cause adverse changes to air, water, or land and also to comply with local laws and regulations.

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