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Getting Records Management Right

Organizations of all kinds face a double-edged sword when it comes to managing documents: Volume is growing exponentially, and so is the need to organize information for easy retrieval. Unfortunately, according to a managing principal for Xerox Global Services (XGS), some folks end up getting sliced by the document ninja.

According to Charles Brett of XGS, there are a range of things to keep in mind when creating a good records management system. First is to define what is meant by a "record."

"Overall, records management is the accountability, management, and enforcement of what is a business record," Brett says. "The definition of a record can be defined by statute or citation. But what a company would consider a vital record may not be required for legal purposes but be vital to operations -- things like manuals, documents of procedures, minutes, and so forth."

Sadly, some outfits wait until the wolf is at the door in the form of lawyers or regulators before deciding to get organized. "People ask us to dig them out when they have a lawsuit, to assist them with getting on track, and sorting it out," Brett says. So frequently does this happen that XGS has set up a division called Xerox Litigation Services to cope.

What can people do to avoid a document management mess? Brett has several suggestions:

  • Don't avoid the issue. "One pitfall is thinking, 'This won't happen to me,' waiting for the event, and then being completely reactive to it," Brett says. Better to get ahead of the curve since if you're in a regulated business, this is bound to arise sooner or later.
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