Eye-Opening Document / Records Management Best Practices

By Darian Mavandad
August 24, 2022
5 min read
Photo of files and records management

The term records management should be nothing new to IT and HR, or anyone else involved in internal comms within their organization. But why is this ubiquitous practice so crucial to the wellbeing of your business? And what does it have to do with internal communications?

Let’s explore document management and identify a few best practices to keep your organization compliant, organized, and secure.

Why is document management so important?

Records management is the only way to keep all the thousands of documents, policies, forms, receipts, and other work-related assets organized and sequenced. Every single document, whether physical or digital, contains important information that may need to be easily accessed in the future, and certainly will need to be accessible in the circumstance of an audit.

Writing up policies that are compliant with industry regulations are one piece of the puzzle, as managing those records and ensuring they are logged in an accessible location  is just as important. Your policies are only as good as their auditability, and following document and record management best practices is paramount to keeping your organization compliant and audit ready.

Locking files is key to good records management.

Records management best practice #1: your intranet is a key part of your DMS (Document Sharing Software)

A purpose-built intranet will have powerful document management capabilities that can aid in your records management. Some organizations may be using a shared drive as their document storage, and in turn, their records management may be limited to the functionality that a shared drive has. Other, perhaps older, organizations may still be using a large system of filing cabinets for their document management, and records management may be a laborious and complex task that involves stacks and stacks of papers and crumpled receipts.

No matter which document sharing software (DMS) system you’re currently using, be it a file server, SharePoint Online, Dropbox, or Google, a dedicated intranet portal should be a key part of your DMS strategy, and should work in parallel with your current solution.

When you use your intranet as a key part of your DMS, and use it to keep track of important records and policies, you are simplifying and streamlining your workflow in a number of ways:

  1. Your intranet software may have tools that will automate what happens with various records such as important forms and policies. But this isn’t just HR document sharing best practices. It extends to every other department in the organization.
  2. Your intranet software will have version control, so not only are your records organized, you can look back in time and see how a document underwent changes, giving you even more power when it comes to ensuring compliance and remaining transparent during an audit.
  3. Your intranet will, in the long run, cost you less than a series of complex file cabinets, or having to constantly buy shared drives with more gigabytes as your records grow—not only in upfront costs, but by increasing the productivity of records management and reducing labor costs.
  4. Efficient retrieval of records on your intranet. With a software that features robust search capabilities, you can pull up a record in a matter of seconds, whereas a shared drive may be lacking in search capability, and a physical file cabinet will lack it altogether.

Records management best practice #2: Follow the records lifecycle

Adhering to records lifecycle is a key way to ensure your records remain audit ready and compliant. Let’s take a look at each step of the lifecycle, and how an intranet can help.

  1. Create: When you are creating a record, whether it be a form, a policy, or a procedure, it’s important to outline who is involved in the creation, which area of your intranet it will live in, and which key stakeholders need to approve of it.
  2. Use: Reports that are used often should be in easy to get to places, maybe even linked directly to the homepage of your intranet so everyone can get to it in 2 clicks. The most important reports should also be part of your onboarding and offboarding process.
  3. Protect: Ensure that the records and documents match regulations for your specific industry. For example, in the finance industry, records must be kept of communications for up to 7 years. Your intranet is the best place to store these records and ensure they remain untouched and a few clicks away, should you ever be audited.
  4. Archive or destroy: When a record is out of date, no longer needed, or needs to be permanently destroyed for security reasons, your intranet can help with all of that. Archived documents in the cloud take up much less room than on a physical drive (and are still accessible, just in case), and if the record only ever existed on your intranet, it can be permanently deleted in just one-click, giving you peace of mind. You can even automate the archive process, eliminating human error.

Records management best practice #3: beware of rogue policies

Tablet showing danger sign representing rogue policy

Managing your records doesn’t just mean organizing and keeping track of existing policies and reports, it also means ensuring that un-approved policies and reports are not governing your workforce.

When your workforce has a single source of truth for all records, it becomes infinitely easier to ensure that all employees know where to find important policies and reports, and to reinforce the fact that any records or reports that don’t live on the intranet are not management approved. This requires a fair amount of intranet governance, so check out our free resource for that.

Intranet Connections can help with records management

Intranet Connections’ state of the art software was built purposely for organizations in highly regulated industries such as healthcare and finance. Our software features important tools for records management, such as version history, intuitive search functionality, and automated workflows for important forms and approval processes.

To learn more about how our software can benefit your organization’s records management needs, book a demo with our sales team and get a no obligations demo of our software.

By Darian Mavandad

Darian has a degree from McGill University, and joined IC to empower internal communicators by creating content that inspires. In his free time, he loves traveling, reading, and skiing.