Organizations produce and process vast amounts of information daily. Such information is preserved in the form of records, both textual and electronic. Records can be defined as written data or document that is maintained and preserved for possible future use/reference.
Records management is the organizational function devoted to the management of information in an organization throughout its life cycle, from the time of creation or inscription to its eventual disposition. This includes identifying, classifying, storing, securing, retrieving, tracking and destroying or permanently preserving records
It can also be defined as the field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including the processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records”
The records may be classified into the following four titles.
2. Accounting records.
3. Legal records.
4. General Correspondence records
PURPOSES OF MAINTAINING RECORD
1. for Future Reference
Records are maintained to be available for future reference. For example criminal records are maintained at the bureau of statistics for tracking criminal activities of an individual. Judgments of cases are maintained for reference as precedent
2. Helps in making precise and efficient business decisions
The benefits of keeping accurate records are as follows: –
•To determine the progress of an office whether it is making a profit or running at a loss; by keeping proper records, the profit or loss as well as the expenditure made by the office can be easily calculated.
•To maintain proper financial control of the office in order to maximize profit. Caution must be exercised when handling revenue and expenses of the office. Consequently, proper record keeping will help determine whether or not the resources of the office are being managed efficiently.
•To be able to provide financial information about the office is very important in assisting management, potential investors, creditors etc. make informed decisions about the office.
Whatever the nature of your business, remember, good record keeping is vital for its survival.
Profit/loss information comes from the records keeping of a business and is an important aid in decision-making. Information gathered from a review of the records keeping system can indicate past trends in a company’s operating effectiveness. This historical data can be used to answer specific questions about the change in profitability over time, the volume of sales at different times of year, the level of employee turnover, etc. This historical perspective can be especially useful to the owner/manager in decisions about future courses of action. Information generated from the records keeping system can provide a baseline for setting future goals and directions.
Accurate and timely information can be used by the owner/manager to make decisions that give an edge in maintaining or gaining a competitive advantage – more specifically, a good records keeping system can make the difference between success and failure.
Records are also maintained to satisfy governmental regulations. Well designed records keeping system will simplify the process of complying with regulations, provide an audit trail for verifying that specific transactions have occurred and serve the information needs of the owner/manager as well.
5.for Other People
Another purpose for maintaining records is to provide information for other people. Many small businesses are essentially one-person enterprises – a single individual is the catalyst for most activity. It is imperative that this type of business maintain complete and detailed records. If something happens to the key individual, often no one else knows what has gone on in the past. With no records system to provide continuity, the business may be forced to close or be sold for less than it is worth.
Records and information management is the field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use, and disposition of records, including processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records.
7.Planning and Budgeting
Past records can be used for comparison, planning, budgeting and forecasting the future. For example criminal records may be used as justification to recruit more police officers. Accounting records can be used to assess financial position of a business.
It is a legal requirement that certain documents are maintained for a certain period of time. The Record Disposal Act (Cap14) Laws of Kenya requires that judicial civil records relating to title to property, matters of succession, inheritance and easements shall be maintained permanently.
9. Settlement of Disputes
Managers need to refer to records when settling disputes. Records provide historical background and facts of a case that are important elements to consider before arriving at any meaningful decision
10. Policy and Decision Making.
Records are used as point of reference when making important management decisions or formulating policies affecting the organization.
Records can be sued for general correspondence
The Association of Records Management and Administrator’s (ARMA) International developed Recordkeeping Principles which constitute a generally accepted global standard that identifies the critical hallmarks and a high-level framework of good practices for information governance.
They are meant to provide organizations with a standard of conduct for governing information and guidelines by which to judge that conduct.
Principle of Accountability: A senior executive (or a person of comparable authority) shall oversee the information governance program and delegate responsibility for information management to appropriate individuals.
Principle of Transparency: An organization’s business processes and activities, including its information governance program, shall be documented in an open and verifiable manner, and that documentation shall be available to all personnel and appropriate, interested parties.
Principle of Integrity: An information governance program shall be constructed so the information assets generated by or managed for the organization have a reasonable guarantee of authenticity and reliability.
Principle of Protection: An information governance program shall be constructed to ensure an appropriate level of protection to information assets that are private, confidential, privileged, secret, classified, essential to business continuity, or that otherwise require protection.
Principle of Compliance: An information governance program shall be constructed to comply with applicable laws, other binding authorities, and the organization’s policies.
Principle of Availability: An organization shall maintain its information assets in a manner that ensures their timely, efficient, and accurate retrieval.
Principle of Retention: An organization shall maintain its information assets for an appropriate time, taking into account its legal, regulatory, fiscal, operational, and historical requirements. Record management services provide the corporate memory of an organization. They preserve the evidence of an organization’s activities by enabling timely access to current administrative information and to ensure that they are not in advertently destroyed
Principle of Disposition: An organization shall provide secure and appropriate disposition for information assets no longer required to be maintained, in compliance with applicable laws and the organization’s policies.
The challenges facing records management with reference to its history of evolution of records management in Kenya is two-fold;
The colonial error
The challenge of oral traditions where early practitioners of records management had a problem as major activities conducted by Africans were not documented.
Absence of an Archival Institution as most administrators did not feel the need for any records and hence there was no adaptation to policies under records management.
Inadequate skills and high staff turnover as early practitioners in the field of archives and records management did not have any basic skills pertaining to records and archives preservation.
Inadequate funding which enable any organization to carry out its functions and operations that includes adopting policies that need funds to implement.
Absence of collaborative and cooperative efforts as institutions did not have the capacity to engage in regional and international organizations and associations in the field of archives and records management.
The problem of illiteracy as it was only after 2nd world war 2 that Kenyans coul read and write and there was need to harness all the information produced by different agencies in the private sector and this was severed by poor transport and communication services.
The post colonial error
The problem of migrated Archives On the eve of independence, the imperial government opted to remove certain records from the country arguing that it was an not a common practice for a government to hand over its records to another government (Mnjama, 2003). It was expensive, lengthy and time consuming.
Absence of defined working relationship with other government agencies . The KNA Act of 1965 mandated the KNA institution to be the sole custodian of all public records and archives. However, the relationship between the KNA and government agencies is not affable even though there are provisions that requires transfer by any custodian of any public records to the director or any officer of the service authorized for the examination and selection thereof and comply without any undue delay with any lawful directions for then preservation of public records and to transfer to the national Archives.
Challenges in IT where there is emphasis to migration in governance, transactions and education and the need to preserve records in a digital platform.
Deterioration of existing infrastructure.
The problem of records disposal where institutions are not willing to dispose of these records despite the problem of taking up a lot of floor space.
The need for embracing records management in Kenya was advanced by UNESCO consultant Ian MacLean in 1978 who was tasked with the mission by the Kenyan Government with the following terms of reference:
1. Draft public records management legislation and regulations.
2. Plan and conduct staff training in records management in the National Archives Service in Nairobi, Kenya, for both personnel of the National Archives Service and designated officials of other Government agencies.
3. Prepare final report covering all aspects of the mission with recommendations for future action.
He identified problems facing the government offices and poor storage conditions prevalent at the Kenya national Archives and proposed the establishment of Regional Records Centres countrywide
The objective of the regional archives include ;
Identifying the weakness of records management and coming out with possible remedial actions.
Selection of records for preservation and identification of records meant to be destroyed.
Adoption of good principles and practices in the management of records.
Improvement of file classification schemes under preservation of records.
Compilation of records retention /disposal schedules in public offices
The regional Archives had to evolve and develop their annual work plan to be in conformity with provisions of Public Archives and Documentation Service Act that provides the authority to examine any public records, and advice on the care, preservation, custody and control. It was also mandated to transfer to his custody any public records, which he considers, should be housed in the national archives.
Filing can be defined as the systematic arrangement and preservation of business correspondence and records in a manner which enable quick retrieval and reference whenever needed.
Their purpose is to capture, maintain and provide access to evidence of transactions over time in accordance with accountability and business practices. The establishment of a coherent filing system provides for faster and systematic filing, faster retrieval of information, greater protection of information, and increased administrative stability, continuity and efficiency.
Whereas record management is concerned with the organization and administration of records for future references, filing on the other is the process of classifying, arranging and sharing those records for ease of retrieval when so required.
A file is the physical unit of information contained within a paper or electronic folder while records are held in files to enhance accessibility and identification.
Requirements of a good filing system
A Filing Systems is a logical and systematic arrangement for classifying records into subject groups or categories based on definite scheme of natural relationships representing numerals, prefixes, or key words for identification.
The system should be kept simple to reduce errors and to facilitate all employees’ use of the system. It should, therefore, be designed for the normal requirements of the organization and not for remote or exceptional possibilities.
• Files should contain information which is linked to the activities and functions which they document.
• The system should have a structured referencing system in which each element equates with a function of the file title to a maximum of four elements. Types of file referencing systems include:
1.) Numerical classification
2.) Alphabetical classification
3.) Alpha-numerical classification
4.) Subject classification
5.) Geographical classification
6.) Chronological classification
Principles of a good filing system.A good filing system should be suitable to meet individual users/ department needs.
The system should be sufficiently flexible to meet the future needs of the organization. It should be capable of future expansion and contraction according to business conditions
The system must enable the user to classify records in any desired manner and to retrieve them with certainty and without delay.
There should be an in-built audit mechanism whereby failure to adhere to established practices and procedures is identified and rectified.
The filing system of choice should not be too costly. The cost incurred on the installation of the system and operating it should be commensurate with the benefits accruing from it.
Compactness: The system adopted in an office should use as little space as possible. This depends on availability of office space.
INDEXINGAnd index can be simply defined as an indicator or guide to the location of any information. It is a system that compliments filing by ascertaining information by pointing out the exact whereabouts of the information being sought.
A good filing system is helpful to preserve the files or document and retrieve them at the time of need. It is also helpful to provide the document quickly and easily but for quick and easy reference index is required. Good indexing adds to the efficiency of goods filing system.
The purpose of indexing may be stated as below.
To facilitate easy and quick location of required file letters and other documents.
To serve as an essential add to the filing system.
To facilitate reference and cross reference to number of files in an office.
To clerical efforts and executive time in managing records.
To increase general efficiency of office work.
To present an orderly list of files and records.