For those in desperate need of definition when it comes to Records Management, we’ve got some advice from Jonathan Powers, a Tech Writer at Laserfiche (news, site). At this year’s Empower 2010, Powers took us back to the basics and promised martinis as a reward for lending him our ears.

What is Records Management?

What’s arguably most important to know is that if you don’t manage your records, your organization will receive mountains of fines and legal sanctions for non-compliance.

Now that we have your attention, we’re happy to report that there’s nothing complicated about the concept of records management at all. All Records Management really is is tracking the life of a record—from birth to death. The typical management of a record is made up of four different tasks:

  • Creation
  • Retrieval
  • Storage
  • Disposal

Some Terminology

The person that’s usually in charge of maintaining records is called—dun, dun, dun!—a records manager.

When a record is alive and well, it is in what is called the active stage. This simply means it still needs to be accessed for changes, and compliance doesn’t come into play here. But when a record becomes old and dull, (not frequently accessed) it should be moved into what is called the inactive stage. When a Records Manager moves a record from active to inactive, he is performing what is called a cutoff.

Being cutoff doesn’t mean the guillotine for the record just yet. Companies keep inactive records around for a certain period of time just to be double extra sure they don’t need them. The double extra sure time a records spends on the backburner is called a retention period. The length of retention for each record is indicated on what is called a retention schedule, which gets handed to a Records Manager, and is as Powers says, “totally unfun” to execute.

The Final Countdown

The second half of the inactive stage of a record’s life is compliance’s lover, or what is more frequently known as the final disposition. The final disposition occurs when a record’s retention period has ended, meaning it’s finally time for the record to be burned, shredded, or made someone else’s problem via accession.

Managing Records with Laserfiche

Honestly, it’s not a lot to remember but at times it can be horribly dull, and that’s one of the reasons  why Laserfiche offers Laserfiche RME. The tool is designed to aid (not replace) a records manager by ensuring that records adhere to retention schedules. None of the processes are automated, nor are any notifications sent. Laserfiche RME is about organizing records so record managers can work faster and more efficiently. As Powers puts it, a records manager can essentially ask RME “What RM actions do I need to perform right now?” at any given point of the day.

He laid the three broad steps to using Laserfiche RME out like this:

  1. Translate a public retention schedule into terms Laserfiche can understand
  2. Apply the translated retention schedule to documents in your repository whose lifecycle you want to track
  3. Manually move records through their lifecycle by performing records management action

Turns out we didn’t get martinis (bummer) but Powers did remind us that Laserfiche just recently got re-certified, meaning comply with Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, USA PATRIOT Act, SEC and FINRA, And don't you think it's wise to take advice from people who follow the rules and get their DoD 5015.2 V3 certification?

Powers also mentioned that we're getting closer and closer to a new version of RME, but you'll have to wait with us for more information about that.