Records Managers, Apply Within

There’s only so much an administrative assistant can do to facilitate a sound records management system. Here’s the why and how of creating an entirely new role in your organization to master this awesome task.

Do you need a records manager? Now that the staff handling your records must address queries from accounting, legal, compliance and other critical departments, the answer may be “Yes!” And it might just be the best $94,500 (plus benefits) you’ll spend each year.

That’s right; the mean salary for a records manager is $94,500, according to an Institute of Certified Records Managers (ICRM®) membership survey. In fact, the organization reports that 52 percent of its membership earns $90,000 or more annually. What’s more, 35 percent of these professionals make more than $100,000. But don’t balk just yet. Keep in mind that an able records manager:

  • Serves as an overall gatekeeper to your most valuable asset—information. A records manager can systematize your records archiving and access, then serve as a vigilant sentry.
  • Keeps your records management policy on track and accepts accountability—that’s key. You can set policy all you want but if management doesn’t buy in and employees don’t follow suit, then your policy-making was all for naught.
  • Guarantees your company is prepared for both internal and external audits. That dreaded annual internal audit doesn’t have to sting. A records manager can stay on top of your records and ensure you’ll have the documents you need to support an audit, whether internal or external—without the stress.
  • Ensures compliance with federal and state regulations. Federal regulations like HIPAA, SOX and a host of state laws dictate how you protect your customers’ and associates’ privacy. A records manager ensures compliance by collaborating with several of your company’s departments—legal, privacy and compliance and risk management.
  • Coordinates and oversees discovery requests. They’re coming faster and faster these days and your company needs to respond—without incurring legal fees for non-compliance or the additional labor costs associated with employees tracking down missing or misfiled information.
  • Protects the chain of custody of legal discovery and audit information as well as other requests. When your company responds to discovery requests, this process ensures that data has not been corrupted along the way.
  • Continually assesses records management strategy and makes recommendations for updates and modifications. A records manager, working in conjunction with the IT, Legal and Risk, and other departments, becomes your in-house expert who understands what information resides in your data coffers and how your business operates.

A Parallel Universe: Outsourcing the Job

Like any company, you have the option to turn records management over to an outside firm that will do everything, soup to nuts. By doing this you’re taking the onus of records management—and all of its legal bugaboos—off your employees’ hands, so they can address your core business. But if you want to keep this process under your own roof, a records manager can coordinate your records strategy. Consider a candidate with these qualities:*

  • Understands how your particular business operates and how records management supports it.
  • Works well with people. This position is in part a public relations job, considering its interaction with business partners, law firms and customers requesting information. Prickly demeanors apply elsewhere.
  • Holds a college degree in a records-related major such as archiving or records management—two increasingly popular majors. Many companies prefer that a records manager have a Master’s Degree. The Institute of Certified Records Managers (ICRM®) reports that 89 percent of its membership holds a bachelor’s degree while 47 percent of the members have an MS, MLS, PhD or JD.
  • Possesses technical know-how. Much of the position includes the management of converting paper to digital files, as well as indexing and storing files electronically.

The ICRM® suggests that you add the Certified Records Manager (CRM) certification to that list of requirements. By going through the six-part certification process, ARMA International contends your records manager will gain additional knowledge of records management and “tangible documentation of their knowledge and experience.”

Keeping records in order, and having a records manager to oversee and direct the process, will help your business run more efficiently, ensure compliance with ever-changing regulations, reduce the costs associated with finding requested records and even help your company stay ahead of the competition. So, go ahead, pony up that paycheck. It’s money well spent.

The Checklist:
How Do We Manage?

A competent records manager adds vigilance, accountability and information management expertise to your records department, while helping your company address key business concerns:

  • Q: “Are we in compliance?”
    A: A records manager understands regulatory mandates, tracks compliance and ensures that there’s a detailed record of the process.
  • Q: “Can we become more efficient?”
    A: An internal manager can recommend and evolve records management strategies that are in line with your business needs and oversee their implementation. Doing so builds greater efficiencies into your processes and cuts down on records retrieval times.
  • Q: “Where will we save?”
    A: Start with the money you’ll save on fines not imposed for failure to comply promptly with regulatory demands. Add to this the savings culled from avoiding delays in fulfilling legal discovery requests, and retrieving hard to find or misfiled information.

Iron Mountain Recommends
A Records Manager should:

Be an accomplished leader. A records manager is indeed a manager, not an administrative assistant with a specialty.

Show obvious tech expertise. The records manager should have a solid understanding of records management systems. This manager should also be adept at handling databases, document imaging and other potential pieces of your records strategy.

Understand your business. You’ll need more than just an archivist or librarian. A records manager must understand your business and how you use information to operate and stay competitive.

Be ready to establish a strong, healthy relationship with your records management vendor. This position should seamlessly fit into the flow of your records management strategy and work in partnership with a trusted vendor.

*List excerpted from “How to Become a Records Manager”

Do you have more questions about your mid-size firm’s records management options? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or Contact Iron Mountain’s consulting services team. You’ll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your information management challenges.

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