To believe or not believe, that is the question. These days it can be hard to tell myth from reality. For companies seeking records management help, there are several myths out there that can hamper improving your record management program. Examples of these include: you should hang on to records forever as you never know when you might find a use for them; investing in a records management program is too expensive, and; after going digital, you don’t even need a records management program.
Having trouble separating myth from fact? Never fear! By thinking through some of these common records management misperceptions, your questions are likely to have clearer answers. Here is how Zasio recommends addressing three of the most common records management myths.
Myth 1: It’s best to hold on to your records forever.
As the thinking goes: better safe than sorry, right? In reality, disposing of records per an approved record retention policy will help your business tremendously in managing its records. You might be tempted to keep your records indefinitely, but keeping records longer than necessary might not be so practical. For one, keeping physical documents that no longer have a business or legal value can take up expensive office or outside storage space. Second, keeping certain sensitive records longer than necessary can expose your company to costly legal actions, large privacy fines, and even information theft.
To avoid these problems and save your organization money in the process, a record retention policy can be the best solution. Also, having and maintaining a record retention schedule is strongly recommended to control the growth and volume of records your organization has on file.
Myth 2: Maintaining a records management program is too pricey.
Let’s weigh a couple of other options before we get into that. Would you rather invest in a records management program that will help your business thrive, or risk a high-cost data breach that has the potential to put your company out of business? A recent article in Wired Magazine illustrates how poor records management can contribute to the end of an organization, telling the tragic true story of how a mental health counseling startup in Finland was hacked. In the startup’s case, having a mature records management program could have significantly mitigated the damage caused by the hack, reduced its risk of bankruptcy, and protected tens of thousands of patients’ sensitive personal information.
It is also important to consider the additional litigation costs that can result from failing to maintain a robust records management program. For example, Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure assumes your company has a records management program in place and can find case-related data. Failure to comply with Rule 26 can not only drive up the cost of discovery in litigation, but it can also land your organization in trouble with the court. One tool at a court’s disposal for violations of Rule 26 is imposing sanctions against an organization that has not properly preserved, or cannot locate discoverable information.
Myth 3: I have electronic records; therefore, I don’t need a records management policy.
Even if your company has digitized the bulk of its records, these records still must be managed properly and stored securely. While searching through computer files is less physically painful than risking paper cuts from riffling through filing cabinets for hard copy records, both options are very inconvenient. Consider how much time and money your organization spends searching for information each day. A report from the International Data Corporation estimates that knowledge workers spend as much as 30 percent of their time searching for information. A primary goal of any records management program is to cut that number significantly, leading to considerably higher efficiency.
An electronic record management (ERM) system offers a cost-effective, and most importantly, convenient way to properly and securely manage your records. Basic features of most ERM systems allow digital files to be viewed, edited, and saved securely. One of many benefits of using an ERM system is monitoring document retention lifecycles. Once a file’s retention date passes, it is securely destroyed so the only records you keep are the ones you need or are legally required to retain. The best part is there is always an audit trail showing who accessed the records and when and convenient ways to schedule disposition.
Don’t let records management myths get in the way of your company properly managing its records. No one wants to spend their valuable time or money on something that could have been prevented. Instead, make your organization’s records management program a thing of legend.
If your organization is ready to create a record retention schedule, contact Zasio today to see how our innovative products and services can help meet your record-keeping and information governance needs.
 They Told Their Therapists Everything. Hackers Leaked It All by William Ralston. https://www.wired.com/story/vastaamo-psychotherapy-patients-hack-data-breach/
 “The High Cost of Not Finding Information an IDC White Paper” by Analysts: Susan Feldman and Chris Sherman https://computhink.com/wpcontent/uploads/2015/10/IDC20on20The20High20Cost20Of20Not20Finding20Information.pdf
Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is to provide general education on Information Governance topics. The statements are informational only and do not constitute legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the application of the law to your business activities, you should seek the advice of your legal counsel.