Corporate records managers should be an integral part of any disaster plan to ensure all phases of disaster management operate smoothly. These days, due to widespread terrorism and the rise of multinational organizations, enterprises must remain vigilant and have an effective disaster plan in place for both accidental and intentional emergencies.
Corporate records managers should be an integral part of any disaster plan to ensure that all phases of disaster management operate smoothly. These days, due to the threat of terrorism and the rise of multinational organizations, enterprises must remain vigilant and have an effective disaster plan in place for both accidental and intentional emergencies. The three phases of a disaster program are disaster planning, disaster management and disaster recovery.
Disaster plan development and improvements should include the corporate records manager as an equal partner with others on the development team. During the three phases of disaster management, where does the records management function provide its greatest value?
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Small-business owners invest a tremendous amount of time, money and resources to make their ventures successful, yet many owners fail to properly plan and prepare for disasters. According to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, an estimated 25 percent of businesses do not reopen after a major disaster.
Records managers are responsible for determining which records are vital to the organization's operations. Because there are many types of disasters that could affect organizational records, records managers should first identify important business issues related to those vital records. The most obvious issues are fire, flood and storms, though errors and omissions, negligence, employee sabotage, computer terrorism, hacking and physical terrorism issues have risen to the highest level of importance.
Corporate records managers should gather information about all information hazards and risk, then identify vital electronic and hard-copy business records and vital backup and recovery processes both onsite and offsite. They should analyze and determine how the business could be affected if this information was lost or damaged. The corporate records manager should then examine the ways to prevent these hazards and reduce risk by addressing them.
In the three phases of disaster management, the records manager should be responsible for managing the vital records program. It is important to conduct periodic reviews with other department managers to determine whether the organization's vital records are adequately protected, current and accessible in the case of an emergency. This is even more important if a manager's responsibilities have changed significantly since the last review since this could require the vital records plan to be modified.
During and immediately after a disaster has occurred, written roles and responsibilities become strategic. Even the best planning may not prevent damage to vital records. Consequently, records managers must have records mitigation plans in place for both timely and economical responses to records disasters. This way, they may salvage or replace damaged records and the information they contain.
After a disaster, organizations need to continue their operations. The availability of critical disaster plan information is key to the continuation of business operations. Records managers need to ensure that all responsible managers and staff are familiar with the records disaster mitigation and recovery program. They should document the policies, procedures, roles and responsibilities governing the records disaster mitigation and recovery program in disaster recovery procedure manuals. These should clearly assign responsibility for coordinating disaster recovery plans and activities for specific job functions and record series. Managers should also be authorized to designate other members of the disaster recovery team in a time of need.
The greatest problem with maintaining disaster plans has always been keeping them up-to-date and reflective of actual work processes. They are worthless if they are simply created and kept on a shelf. Recently, there have been examples of plans that did not protect an organization or provide an avenue for recovery. Energy explosions, confidential information hacking, disastrous storms and floods and other recent disasters have demonstrated that disaster plans are necessary for avoiding harm and financial loss. The records manager's role needs to reflect the importance of this responsibility.
Do you have questions about records and information management? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain's Information Management team. You'll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your specific challenges.