Establish and maintain recordkeeping policy and procedural documentation
^ Establish and maintain recordkeeping policy and procedural documentation |
If, in Step E, you decided that implementing policies, procedures or other business rules would help meet your recordkeeping requirements, Step F is the point in the methodology where you start to develop these tools. These documents will specify exactly how recordkeeping should be undertaken within a specific business environment.
^ What to do with existing policy documentation?
Your department/section may already have a policy framework in place. If so, old recordkeeping documents should be reviewed and updated as necessary.
If your systems are going to change radically, it may be worthwhile officially withdrawing your old policy documentation and releasing new documents that better describe how your new system will operate.
Your section may also be expected to operate under policies that have been promulgated by another section within the same department or office. Subject to your recordkeeping requirements, you may need to take into account the existence of such policies to help ensure a consistent approach to recordkeeping within your environment.
^ What should policy or procedural documentation say? Policy documentation
A policy is a high level plan of action. Therefore policy documents should contain high level rules and requirements - more practical detail should be included in procedural and guideline documents.
When developing a policy statement to help address recordkeeping issues in your department/section, you may want it to include some of the following components:
^ Procedures and guidelines
It is customary to start a policy statement with a brief introduction to the document and its objectives. This purpose section can also be used to discuss records and their value to an organization or business unit.
^ Description of recordkeeping system
Provide details of the system or systems staff should use for the capture and management of records. Briefly describe the system/s and identify the staff with responsibility for operating and maintaining it. This will provide high-level guidance for staff about their recordkeeping requirements.
^ Records management rules
It is important to outline at a high level the rules that staff are expected to follow in relation to record creation and management. These rules should be brief, but can be elaborated on in procedure documents, if this is required in your.
A key component of a policy statement is the identification of responsibilities for recordkeeping. Outlining the responsibilities allows each person to be aware of what they must do in relation to records management.
It is useful to outline the regulatory and other requirements that exist in your organization for the creation and management of records. It is useful to also include these in the references section.
If it is department or office wide, it is important to have your policy authorised and issued by your Director, Chief Executive or General Manager. If your policy applies in a specific business unit, it needs to be signed off by the head of that unit. The policy needs this level of approval and authority to be appropriately adopted. The policy also needs to be dated to enable it to be regularly reviewed.
Providing a glossary is a means of ensuring the requirements of your policy statement, and all the terminology used, are fully understood by all appropriate staff. Define any terms you may think will not be consistently understood across your department/section. A full Glossary of Recordkeeping Terms can be accessed via the ARMS Intranet site.
Procedures and guidelines should give clear instruction about how a specific activity, task or process should be conducted. When deciding to use procedural documentation to help address recordkeeping gaps, ensure that procedures or guidelines adequately specify how and when records should be made, and specific staff responsibilities for their capture and management.
You need to develop guidelines and procedures from scratch if:
there were previously none in place
those in place are out of date
changes to business rules, processes and responsibilities are extensive, or
your office is moving from a wholly paper-based to an electronic recordkeeping system.
As with the other components that are designed for use by people, you need to gain user feedback on the layout and clarity of the guidelines and procedures as they are being developed.
^ Tip: Support your policy development with use of the implementation strategy
As was flagged in Step E, Identification of strategies for recordkeeping, if you are developing policy or procedure to help meet your recordkeeping requirements, try to support the actual use and understanding of these documents with training, or with revisions to business processes. See Applying the implementation strategy below for more advice.