The records management lifecycle: how to handle every step

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The quality and integrity of each step in the records management lifecycle is vital, since data must be kept secure and organized to be properly leveraged.

Jeremy Dunn
Jeremy Dunn
February 3, 20178 mins
The Records Management Lifecycle | Iron Mountain

Business leaders must take steps to properly handle the records management lifecycle, including the planning, collecting, integrating, analyzing, preserving and disposing of records.

All business information and data has a natural lifecycle that spans from its creation to its disposal. The quality and integrity of each step in the records management lifecycle is crucial, since the records information lifecycle is intended to safeguard the privacy, integrity and accessibility of all data obtained, stored, utilized and managed by a business. When done correctly, information lifecycle management mitigates the risk of unauthorized disclosures, revisions, deletions or disposals of business records and assets.

The following are some of the imperative information lifecycle steps all organizations need to consider:

Level of Record Sensitivity

Business records should be categorized according to how sensitive the information is to ensure the most effective security treatment throughout the entire records lifecycle. Record categorizations should be based on the privacy, integrity and accessibility of the records. Businesses should also take into account the intents and facilities of potential security breaches and threats, as well as all legal compliance requirements.

Record Retention

Business records generally have a specific retention period. Thus, these records should be categorized by how long they will be kept, thereby ensuring records maintain their integrity and will be accessible at the right time. This affects an entity's business requirements and its legal compliance requirements.


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Records Management

Business leaders must define the specific record management processes within the enterprise and at third-party records management vendors in order to prevent unauthorized access to or disclosure of stored data. This may include administrative measures, such as restricting technical and physical access to records based on the level of confidentiality, classifying physical and media data according to their level of sensitivity, maintaining and logging records of data transfer and creating a thorough audit trail.

Data Backup Procedures

Developing and reviewing data backup processes is crucial in the information lifecycle. Physical and digital records should be properly backed up and then tested to ensure the original and backup copies are accessible. This process should also include testing of backup media and restoration processes. Backed-up data must then be stored at a remote site, thus making it immune to any damage to which the primary copies may be exposed. Companies should mark each level of backup with a formal description, length of retention and frequency of imaging.

Enterprises must also create inventory records for backed-up data. This should include the content of the records and their current location. If backed-up information needs to be accessed, the process must include complete documentation of the restored data.

Managing Records in a "Keep It All" Environment

Daily tasks are becoming increasingly challenging for records managers who are working in a "keep it all" environment. Some organizations must keep all records indefinitely, although this is a rare case. In this environment, some of the biggest concerns will be storage space and findability.

Physical and Electronic Records Transfers

Physical media containing any company data should be safeguarded by polices that specifically authorize couriers or anyone responsible for the transit of the information. Additionally, there should be packaging standards, as well as physical and technical securities for media in transit.

Electronic data must be protected from unauthorized access with secure encryption and decryption processes. When using public network platforms, there should be authentication requirements and message content security systems available.

Disposal of Records

Documents and media should be securely disposed of when they become permanently irrelevant. The document shredding or data destruction procedures must be in accordance to federal, state and industry regulations.

Information Exchange Agreements

Formal information exchange policies should be established for all internal and external parties privy to company information. All types of information management responsibilities should be specified in these information exchange agreements. Additionally, responsibilities and liabilities in the event of a potential security exposure should be clearly specified.

By maintaining stringent records management lifecycle policies, information access is transparent and company records will be organized in a secure manner according to their stage in the lifecycle.

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