Keeping good records is vital for a business of any size. However, figures suggest that UK businesses are far from setting a good example when it comes to record-keeping. HM Revenue and Customs found that until January 2012, 39% of businesses inspected had some issue with their record-keeping.

All information that is created, sent and received in business is potentially a record. Management of these records is the process of looking after information through careful supervision and administration, whether they’re digital or paper records, they need to be managed to a high standard.

What is Record Management?

Records management activities include the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposal of records. These records could be in the form of contracts, memos, paper files, electronic files, reports, emails, videos, instant message logs or databases. Paper records may be stored in physical boxes on-premises or at a storage facility whilst digital records may be stored on storage media in-house or in the cloud. Whatever the format, and however they are stored, they need to be managed carefully.

The goal of records management is to help organisations keep the necessary documentation accessible for both business operations and compliance checks. This kind of conscientiousness saves a lot of time and a lot of stress in the event of something like an audit. In smaller businesses, spreadsheets may be used to track where records are stored and for how long, but larger organisations may need to install records management software suites. These can be linked to tax collection and a records retention schedule to help streamline processes.

Good records management will:

  • Help you to do your job better by increasing the ease and efficiency of work; you can find the information you need quickly which allows you to get on with your work
  • Increase your accountability, allowing you to provide evidence of previous events/transactions, offering up clear information that can be used if problems occur
  • Increase company efficiency by making sure that you’re only keeping records you need
  • Give you reliable records of high value if they’re ever needed as evidence due to their standards in validity, accuracy, and relevance
  • Prove you’re are following legislation by complying to the expected standards

The consequences of poor records management are:

  • Poor service delivery through a lack of efficiency
  • Inaccurate and less confident decision making from employees because they’re having to work with below-standard/no records
  • Little or non-compliance with legislation that can lead to penalties from HMRC
  • Potential financial losses if an organisation is unable to defend its interests
  • Wasted time and manpower from trying to find the records you need