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No company can function without maintaining a variety of records. Indeed, records become the mission control center of every business, since the staff relies on the files for smooth day-to-day operations.

From canceled checks to purchase orders to computer databases, every business amasses a pile of records. In fact, by one estimate, the average company doubles its volume of records every 10 years.

Keeping track of all those records is one of an admin professional's core duties. To control this massive proliferation of files, you must develop a records management system that you can refer to daily to decide what to keep and what to toss.

Your records management program will be unique to your company; every organization has different recordkeeping needs and retention capabilities. 

For example, if your firm is involved in manufacturing, you are required by law to retain all records pertaining to product development, testing, design and manufacturing for a certain period, depending on the kinds of products your company makes. Products such as drugs, automobiles and hazardous chemicals are regulated by federal agencies. Those agencies, not you, determine which records you must keep and for how long.

Federal and state laws specify lengthy requirements for record creation, maintenance and destruction. By law, you are responsible for meeting those recordkeeping requirements.

The good news: Every document management program features certain common elements that you can incorporate into your organization's records management system.

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