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
2 February 20177 min
The Records Management Lifecycle | Iron Mountain

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

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

Level of Record Sensitivity

Business records should be categorised according to how sensitive the information is. This ensures the most effective security treatment throughout the entire records lifecycle. Record categorisations should be based on the privacy, integrity and accessibility of the records. Businesses should also take into account legal compliance requirements.

Record Retention

Business records generally have a specific retention period. These records should be categorised by how long they will be kept, thereby ensuring record integrity and accessibility. This affects an entity's business requirements and its legal compliance requirements.

Records Management

Business leaders must define the specific record management processes within the enterprise. Processes within third-party records management vendors also need to be reviewed in order to prevent unauthorised access 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. It may also include classifying physical and electronic data according to the level of sensitivity and maintaining and logging records of data transfer to create 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 secure site. Companies should mark each level of backup with a formal description, length of retention and frequency of imaging.

Inventory records are required for backed-up data. This information should include the content of the records and their current location. If backed-up information needs to be accessed, it is important that the process to restore the data is clearly documented.

Physical and Electronic Records Transfers

Physical media containing any company data should be safeguarded by polices that specifically authorise 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 unauthorised 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 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 organised in a secure manner according to their stage in the lifecycle.