Modify Records Management Training Before High Tide

A flood of electronic information is heading this way. It's already pouring in. But the real waves will start to hit just as organizations call for the information management captain to take the helm and find there's no one there. The problem is many organizations are missing a fundamental part of unified records and information management (RIM): records management training.

FAST FACT: According to the Iron Mountain 2012 Compliance Benchmark Report, 60 percent of respondents shred some paper records, but they have no formal policy that employees are trained to follow.

DID YOU KNOW: Without the proper tools to monitor employee compliance on policies like information disposal, an organization has no measure of their RIM program's effectiveness.

The numbers are staggering: The total sum of data stored by businesses in 2020 is projected to increase by forty-four-fold from where it was in 2005, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC). Exponential digital data production, paired with longer retention requirements, are the forces behind this strong current.

Businesses with a solid RIM foundation are well positioned to manage the flow of information and leverage it to take advantage of big data analytics and drive initiatives forward. Without a robust RIM program in place to enforce policies and best practices, the liabilities compound. Since 54 percent of the 2012 Compliance Benchmark Report survey respondents have no RIM administrative support and few staff, an organization's information management future will rely on solid records management training. Unless employees are properly and routinely schooled in best practices and policies, instances of records shredded prematurely and sensitive data falling into the wrong hands are bound to occur.

Stepping Up the Game

The role of records management is evolving to one of information governance. The term has yet to be formally defined, so it's rapidly defining itself as a multidisciplinary practice capable of managing data at the highest levels.

Records managers own an ever-increasing quantity of vital records and inactive archives. Therefore RIM programs must be implemented at every stage to effectively track and protect information. For records managers to take the lead on maintaining and improving systems that reflect an organization's current transactions, they need personnel to be conscious of records management processes. Gone are the days of pointing new staff to the filing room after a quick tour.

Consistent Training All Around

To be clear, records management training is an integral part of any RIM program, but it's only useful to the organization when it's regularly put into action. The way to do that is by first establishing formal processes and policies and then methodically rolling them out across the company so every employee and department is accountable for compliance.

According to the compliance benchmark report, the number of organizations offering training has increased, but 36 percent of those asked still offer no or very limited formal training. On a positive note, 25 percent conduct mandatory training for all personnel in which they track attendance and regularly update the content. Instituting RIM training sends several loud and clear messages to employees:

  • The organization cares about the integrity of its information for legal, brand, operational and financial reasons.
  • Vital records are an invaluable asset that must be protected with the highest standards.
  • When in doubt, never, never, never throw it out.

Creating a RIM program without a training component is like drafting an architectural blueprint and neglecting to pass it on to the builders while still expecting the envisioned results. Too many companies settle for ad-hoc training. Assuming staff will learn RIM policies on their feet and remember to practice them consistently is a huge gamble for an organization of any size to make.

Here are a few ways to ensure records management training doesn't fall by the wayside.

1.Spell out the skill set. RIM programs deal with every aspect of capturing, controlling and organizing paper and electronic records. For records managers and specialists, this is anything but abstract, but the majority of personnel hear words like "compliance" and "regulations" and their eyes begin to glaze over, their stomachs rumble for lunch and their mind drifts back to their own full plate of work. Make it easy for them to digest how the RIM program applies by breaking it down into the two big takeaways:

How do they get the information they need to do their jobs?

How do they secure the information while it's in their hands and once they're finished with it?

2. Integrate onsite and offsite storage practices. For many, storing inactive records in an offsite storage facility makes perfect sense — it consolidates resources, saves space in-house and protects archives from potential disasters. Choose a facility that will mirror your existing indexing system and scan originals on demand to streamline and expedite the records retrieval process. Merging two systems into one simplifies procedure without comprising security.

3. Tailor the format and focus of each training session. Organizations that make RIM material available online in addition to onsite and on-the-job training triple the effectiveness of each session. Online guidelines serve as a handy reference for all personnel. Onsite sessions allow for an interactive environment so employees can ask questions and on-the-job training ensures new employees hit the ground knowing the organizations most critical policies and procedures.

The tide will be high on the information shores. Regularly educating employees on RIM best practices gives organizations the confidence and peace of mind of knowing vital, sensitive information is in capable, well-informed hands at every step.

Do you have questions about information management? Read additional Knowledge Center Records Management resources, or contact Iron Mountain’s Records Management team. You’ll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services Records Management specialist who can address your specific challenges.

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