Records Management: Meaning, Purpose, Importance And Principles

Table Of Contents

  • Meaning Of Records Management
  • The Purpose Of Records Management
  • The Importance Of Keeping Records
  • Principles Of Records Management
  • The Steps In Retrieval Of Records
  • The Factors That Aid Information Retrieval

The Meaning Of Records Management
A record is a collection of related items of data. Records management is the process of planning for, organizing and controlling the use of business records. It includes the creation, storage, retrieval, and disposition of records to enure effective and economic operation of a business. Another author described Records Management as “the era of general administrative management concerned with achieving economy and efficiency in the creation, maintenance, use and disposal of records”.
The Purpose Of Records Management
The objectives of records management are:
1. To provide accurate and timely information as and when needed by the organization.
2. To develop and maintain an efficient system of creating, sorting, retrieving, retaining and disposal of records in an organization.
3. To protect the organization information requirements.
4. To design and control effective standards and periodic evaluation methods of the management of the records, equipment and procedures.
5. To assist in creating awareness among company personnel of the most effective methods of controlling and processing records.
The Importance Of Keeping Records
1. Business records are vital to the operation of any business.
2. Business system depends on record keeping, making available the facts and figures required to operate efficiently.
3. Record keeping is valuable in ensuring an orderly arrangement and classification of documents so that answer could be provided promptly and in a coherent order.
4. It ensures easy verification of business transactions.
5. It ensures preservation of records in cases of emergency or after a disaster, frequently through the use of security microfilming.
6. Records keeping provide information on actions actually taken and perhaps the reasons for taking such actions long after the action has been taken and perhape in the absence of the office who took the particular action.
7. Record keeping helps to preserve impartiality in rendering service to the public or customers. Record keeping helps to guide in ensuring that all the customers are treated on the same terms of what has been done in the past, ensures the same thing is done again in the future when the same problem arises.
8. Keeping records helps to detect errors and wastes and enables the organization to device techniques which aim at eliminating errors and wastes.
9. Records are valuable in keeping an orderly account of progress made in an organization.
10. Records reveal the true condition of an organization which helps the management to effect changes in business planning and strategies.
11. Properly arranged records make for comparison between different product lines or some practices between different operating departments. This analytical function of management is facilitated by good record keeping.
12. Records are very valuable in matters such as transfers, promotion, discipline, policy making, capital and other day to day business activities of an organization.
13. Record keeping sets the standard for consistency because such records serve as precedents to guide future actions and further information storage.
14. Record keeping make internal and external communication easier.
Principles Of Records Management
1. Principle of purpose to ease future reference.
2. Principle of verification: Records are arranged to enure easy verification.
3. Principle of classification in coherent order for easy understanding.
4. Principle of availability make available without unnecessary delay.
Steps In Retrieval Of Records/Information
The steps involved in retrieving records are:
1. Request For Records: Retrieval of records in the manual or automated filing system starts with the individual making a request for the record by the file name, number, subkect or some other filing label.
2. Search For The Record: The label of the record request compared with some descriptive information in the file.
3. Retrieval Of Record: This involves the removal of document from the file in a manual retrieval system. In an automatic system, the stored records may be retrieved from computer printout or the display of copy on a terminal screen.
4. File Control Procedures Followed: File controls in the manual systems are used to indicate the destination of the record, the date of charge-out, and the deadline for its return. In the automatic system, no such controls are required because original records remain on tape or disk after being printed or displayed.
5. Records Sent To The Individual Making The Request: The record is transported either by messenger or by mechanical device to the requestor. Instructions for returning the record to the manual system file may be attached to the record.
6. Return File To The Control Storage: The record is return to the control storage area when it is no longer needed.
The Factors That Aid Information Retrieval
In every organization, various types of records aid management in decision making. Records created are kept in files to be made available as and when needed. There is need to keep track of events so that the records can be found when they are required. It is therefore important that consideration should be given to the ease with which information could be retrieved from the files.
Retrieval of information from files refers to the activities involved in locating stored information when it is needed. There are two basic methods of information retrieval. These are the manual retrieval method and the machine retrieval method. In manual retrieval, the worker goes to locate the file in order to extract the desired information. This method requires the worker to have thorough knowledge of the procedures for locating the information. The machine retrieval method involve accessing the desired information from computer media and other forms of machines used in records creation in the office, and transforming the information into a readable state.
However, the list of factors that iad the retrieval of information from the files include, (1) Choice of filing methods, (2) Indexing, (3) Sorting, (4) Cross-referencing, and (5) Flagging.
1. The Choice Of Filing Methods: The choice of filing methods covers the choice of suitable classification which makes for rapid location of documents and the methods of storing files vertical, lateral, and horizontal. The choice of appropriate filing method is dependant on the kinds of records that are to be maintained, how the records will be requested and how long long the record should be kept. Different filing methods will prove suitable in different circumstances. Records come in many sizes and shapes and contain different kinds of information. The choice of filing method would be made according to the particular office. The method of filing used by the office determines to a large extent how fast information can be retrieved.
The filing system adopted should be easy to understand by the users. A brief statement on the basic filing statement:
i. Alphabetic filing: This uses the order of letters in the alphabet to determine the order in which records should be filed.
ii. Subject filing: Subject filing is used when it is likely that the records will be called by subjects, and when all the records regarding a subject matter or an activity should be kept in the same place.
iii. Geographical filing: Geographic filing is an alphabetic arrangement of files by geographical location first and then by name of persons or subject.
iv. Numeric filing: Here documents are arranged in number order.
v. Chronological filing: Here documents are arranged in date sequence. Files are place in date order especially where the most important feature of a subject relates to a date. Travel organizations use this method to file their clients documentation according to departure dates.
2. Indexing: Indexing is a process of selecting the main title or caption under which document is to be filed. It is also a device used to facilitate the location of records. It consists of a list of file titles or subjects showing the number of file dealing with any given subject. When files and or any piece of materials are properly indexed, reference to them and the retrieval of information are easier and faster. For example, indexing, it is essential to determine the title or caption by which each piece of correspondence is mostly to be requested from the file. This can be done by reading enough of each correspondence in order to determine the name, subject or other caption under which it should be filed.
Generally, a letter may be called for under one of the following;
i. The name on the letterhead of the correspondence.
ii. The name in the signature of the correspondence.
iii. The name of the person or firm to whom the correspondence was addressed.
iv. The name of the person or subject discussed in the letter. And
v. The name of the geographica location about which the correspondence is concerned.
3. Sorting: This is the process of arranging in order of the papers to be filed. After papers have been inspected, read, index and coded, they have to be arranged in complete sequence, bringing together all papers about one name, subjet or place. The purpose of sorting is to make an exact arrangement for filing, so that the actual process of placing papers in the file folders and the file drawer will be real. When papers are properly sorted, it helps to know in which particular file an information could be found and in which file drawer. All correspondence should be sorted before filing to make for easy location and retrieval of information.
4. Cross Referencing: This is making a duplicate copy of a particular record that can be used in more than one file under the same subject. A reference is made in one file showing that the information is available in another file. Cross referencing is very important where departmental filing is used.
5. Flagging: Flagging is another factor that aids the retrieval of records. Flagging is inserting a piece of paper on the page in the file where the information is required, and the information can be got at easily when the file is located or looked at.