Records Management: Don't Be Distracted by SOX

Article excerpt

ABABJ spoke with Van Carlisle, CEO of Fire King, a security and records management group based in New Albany, Ind., with expertise in paper and digital documents. Carlisle believes that when it comes to data management, executives must develop a strategic approach--thinking both in terms of the "big picture" vision and the details of storage. He suggests one method of organization: vital records protection, and explains his reasoning here.

In the white papers you've written you remind readers that records need to be distinguished from each other in order to create a workable storage method. Why is that important?

Not all records have the same value to a firm. To be distinguished as "vital," a record must contain information that is essential to the organization in the event of a disaster. Also, records regarding certain key business transactions need to be saved for legal and other reasons that materially impact the firm's risk profile.

The heavily regulated banking industry has always had a pretty good grasp of its information, in the largest sense, wouldn't you agree?

Yes, the banking industry is fairly careful. Best practice leaders have long had effective ways of keeping their data and records, both electronic and paper-based, safe.

However, you always have businesses in all industries that rely on keeping paper records piled away in boxes or in poorly organized filing cabinets, and, in the case of electronic records, on tape drives, which aren't easily searched. With regard to the banking industry, my bigger point is that there wit[ be a higher standard of records maintenance given the new regulatory climate, particularly with Sarbanes-Oxley, which is being interpreted broadly regarding records protection.

Companies will need processes and controls in place to mitigate compliance and legal risks.

Do you have any specific advice about handling SOX requirements with a records management system?

When you make records searchable, you make them easier to interact with and, in the larger sense, easier to validate. You can say, "I stand behind these financial records," because you can find all the supporting line item detail easily and quickly.

What other points about records management do you emphasize in your work?

Yes. Records management, as a discipline, tends to pertain to infrastructure issues like the durability of the medium, the ease of retrieval or when and how to destruct older records that no longer have value. …