Classic Guide to Records Management

Article excerpt

Early in my RIM career I was hired by an international company as a Records Analyst. The position had been created for the MIS department as they had a records challenge. A paper records challenge to be exact. This growing department of over 200 employees had run out of space due to all the paper reports they were generating and maintaining. So much paper existed that most of the programmers had begun to use their paper stacks as tables in their offices.

My initial retention project for the MIS department almost immediately resulted in my being tasked to establishing a company-wide RIM Program. Back then, during the Mainframe Age, there were few resource books on records management. Oh yes, I did successfully establish the program which is still going strong today. The tremendous amount of resource material now available, however, would have aided greatly.

One such resource book is Records Management, A Practical Guide. Author Susan Diamond considers her book a classic guide to building a corporate records management program that is both cost effective and state-of-the-art. Recently updated, this third edition now includes information on the latest advancements in imaging technology and CD-ROM, plus a new chapter on project management.

Susan Diamond is president of the Illinois-based consulting firm Diamond Associates, Ltd., a firm that specializes in records management. In the field for over 20 years, she has been instrumental in establishing numerous records programs for organizations in both the public and private sectors. In her records management tenure she has acquired practical experience and knowledge which she incorporates in her book along with records management basics.

Records Management, A Practical Guide offers 14 chapters, along with a resource appendix, glossary, bibliography, and a topics index. The chapters are organized in a logical flow beginning with the basics, moving on to key aspects to ensure success, then on to the disciplines of RIM and documenting the program, and concluding with the future of records management being explored.

Chapter One, "What Is Records Management?" provides the basics including key terms, the discipline of records management, and the benefits. Although a very short chapter (five pages), the introductory information is meaningful and presented concisely.

The next three chapters that follow deal with obtaining support for the RIM program, developing and staffing the program, and using project management tools to plan and control the program. These chapters were all very good. They address key front-end aspects that can ensure success. The information contained in these chapters is applicable whether establishing a new RIM program or strengthening a tired program that needs attention.

I was particularly impressed with the author's new chapter on using project management tools. Dynamic RIM programs offer the opportunity for on-going projects, however, few RIM professionals fully utilize all the project management tools available. The reader is taken through the entire process, from defining objectives, and identifying and sequencing the activities, to preparing a milestone chart. As part of this chapter the author uses a retention schedule project to show samples of a project diagram that highlights the critical path, and a milestone chart that includes tasks, responsible parties, and target dates.

The majority of this book, eight chapters, addresses the disciplines of RIM. These include:

Records Retention Scheduling

Records Centers

Vital Records

Managing Active Files

Document Imaging

Forms and Reports Management.

The information provided in these chapters is in keeping with practices and methodologies supported by ARMA International and the RIM profession. The author presents a thorough introduction to each topic. In support of the information, she examines advantages and disadvantages of approaches, provides a variety of sample forms, and offers recommendations to ensure the effectiveness of the disciplines. …