Records Management

Introduction

Records management has been a complex task since time immemorial. The Stone Age saw human stored their important information in form of art such as drawings on stones and later scrolls. But as the technology developed, and printing was invented, paper filing became a major method of storing valuable information in manual files. It was only two to three decades ago before the invention of recordkeeping and archival automated systems. With this technology of data storage, information is retained in digital format, and its processing is easier. However, records management became a challenge which demanded new rules and standards to define to guide both organizations as a whole and individuals in particular on how to manage their records. Some bodies such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) developed some guidelines and rules operated at guiding organizations on how to organize the information efficiently or formulate their own policies to meet this objective. Standards are very important for providing a roadmap for the development of policies that are aimed at revealing how operations of an organization are performed. In records management, for instance, various guidelines that apply to how data is stored and transferred are important for ensuring that information, which is organizations valuable resource, is available in the right form and at the right time.

 

This paper focuses on the standards of records management based on the ARM Real Estate Company in the United Arab Emirates. The paper includes three major parts. The first part of the research is going to give an overview of the ARM which includes the nature of business, the number of employees, the number of branches, the methods they use to manage their records, and the number of clients that the company has. The second section of the paper provides the information about the international records and their management policies while the third part of the paper contains the standards that has been implemented in records management by the ARM. The final part of the research is the conclusion.

The main objective of this research is to investigate how the ARM Real Estate Company has implemented the archival standards within the organization and the relationship between its records management standards and the international ones

The paper deals with the internet methods for collection of information that has been used in this research. Peer-reviewed journals produced by other researches and presented in conferences and workshops have been also taken into consideration. Important online sources such as the ISO website, archives, and other electronic libraries, on the other hand, served as reliable means for this research paper. This work has profound importance for identifying how the ARM has implemented records management policies, and if it uses these policies in accordance with the guide of the international records management standards and bodies such as the ISO.

About the ARM Real Estate Company

The ARM was established in 1995 and officially started to conduct its business in January 1996. Being one of the largest real estate companies in the UAE, the organization has a presence in all the major cities of the country with its main office in Abu Dhabi where most of the business management and operations are based. The company has over 20000 clients, 1200 employees, and 13 branches in the entire country. Its workers are mainly marketers, real estate agents, plant engineers, architects, drivers, and customer care agents. Since its inception, the company has made huge profits, and now it is one of the leading real estate firms in the country which has managed to build a large number of housing units and sell more as compared to others.

The ARM is an innovative real estate company whose main target is to oversee the development of sustainable urban planning by using its architecture and design. The organization aims to plan and establish high-quality projects and standards and deliver them on time following the most innovation master plan. The main objective that the company focuses on is the improvement of the way people live.

With the increased number of employees, customers, and business in general, the company has adopted digital method for storing and retrieving records through computerized processing to increase accuracy, information retrieval and the speed of obtaining data in the time of need. Taking into consideration the fact that information is one of the most valuable resources for the decision-making process within the ARM, the company must pay close attention to ensure the consistency of information at all times. Apparently, the company has adopted the ARR Soft which is an in-house developed system of information storage, such as email archiving, managing data on customers, financial statements of the company, employee information, and business transaction documents which is the data that the organization mostly manipulates. However, there has been a challenge of finding storage space due to the large number of files in need of archiving.

The companys information technology team consisting of 23 people deals with the information storage and data archiving in the organization using the ARR Soft records management software which retains all the information from all the branches. It is also a backup system which ensures that if there is a hardware fault, there will not be absolute loss of the information since it doubles and saves in real time. With the business information of a sensitive nature that the ARM has, the company has taken measures to ensure that there are enough backup plans to protect the company from the loss of information which can jeopardize its operations. There are two types of backup systems, onsite and offsite. The onsite is located in the company premises while the offsite uses online storages to avoid major disasters in the entire premise of the organization, such as a fire breakout.

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Records Management Standards

Due to a sensitive nature of information stored in the organization, standards which are useful for the records management have been developed to guide organizations into making sensible policy decisions and to instruct individuals in the process of archival and record keeping. DoD 5015.2 is one of the standards that many software vendors reach. This section provides guidelines for designers and record management software vendors by defining system interfaces and search criteria. It further sets the standards of records management which must be enforced as draft regulations of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in the U.S. It plays a significant role in an organization as it develops a guideline that organizations will follow while framing archive policies.

Another reasonable standard is ISO 15489 which has two parts. This is a records management guideline which establishes a framework and principles for efficient and systematic control of the creation, managing, using, and destroying records. This standard also drafts technical specifications and procedures of developing the guideline. It makes the work of managing records easy to the organization that just needs to set the framework of implementing recordkeeping systems offered by the standard.

Modular Requirements for Records Systems is another records management system designed in 2010 by the parties which are interested in archives. This standard provides a comprehensive set of requirements that the system is going to meet so as to adapt and be applicable to the business. Such a guideline is suitable for different sectors and industries in any organization and is flexible enough to fit into different environments. This standard delivers scalability and adaptability to archiving systems of the organization in terms of records management and allows adoption in both public and private sectors.

ISO 23081 is a standard which provides a guideline for understanding, implementing, and using metadata within an ISO framework. It also addresses the relevance and considers the importance of metadata for records management within the organization. It examines how business processes and the information of all the activities should be kept. This standard additionally underscores the roles played by different types of metadata in business processes. This guideline applies to acquiring and managing metadata and the principles of its processing.

ISO 30300:2011 is a standard established by the ISO in 2011 to help safety organizations fully disclose appropriate corporate information. This rule has a main purpose of promoting transparency in the corporate environment by offering methodology for a procedural approach to keeping, managing, and aligning the records to the organizational objectives and strategies. This standard has an impact on companies as it supports cost-effective ways of stimulating operational processes, such as information storage, retrieval, and usage. It also ensures reliability of the information due to the ability to provide evidence since the data of business activities and transactions is recorded and managed. Meanwhile, it can be retrieved at any given time.

These standards are of great importance to the organization as it helps it to meet the thresholds, that the company can be confident about, hence ensuring the quality of records management. On the other hand, these guidelines provide the platforms where the systems of different vendors can coexist with one another in addition to helping to provide the organization with some guides which take steps towards the development of the records management systems in addition to minimizing costs which could have otherwise been incurred in seeking support, consultation, and maintenance.

Internal Policies

Despite the presence of the standards that have been developed by the international bodies such as the ISO, there is still need to devise internal policies that help in the records management and archive maintenance. The ARM has such policies which have been formulated with the help of the guidance of the standards set by the ISO and other standards bodies. Obviously, some of such rules are still followed.

ISO 15489 is one of the standards that have been implemented by the company to help in the provision of guidelines on keeping company records and their archiving. This rule provides a framework for maintaining archives. This standard is considered as easy to understand and easily applicable to different environments by most of the people working in this field. It also provides guidance on the tools required for the records management within the organization. The records management requires high confidentiality of the information that belongs to the company. Moreover, the ARM policies aim at the records management team to be highly ethical and trustworthy with the ability to keep the company information safe and secret. Records management policies in the company are also guided by the laws of the country which require that data must be stored for a certain period of time before it is disposed. This is the time when these records are legally applicable to use as either evidence or administrative practices.

ISO/TR 26122 is another standard that has been implemented by the ARM. This is a rule that provides guidance on creating, capturing, and managing records of the organization. This helps to investigate a flow of business processes and transactions conducted in the company by providing review and analysis. This technical report is majorly used by records professionals in the IT team of the ARM to manage and create records.

ANSI/ARMA 8-2005 is one of the guides that provide guidance towards the establishment of the information retention and disposition program. The implementation of this guideline in the organization has been helpful in determining the period in which the companys information or the information about ARM clients can be stored without causing legal problems. Moreover, the appropriate methods involve destroying of that particular record. This helps in following the law as well as meeting the operational requirements of handling the information.

Conclusion

As it becomes evident from the research, implementation of standards of records management is a critical part of operating the organization due to the strategic decision making. Policies and guidelines for managing records and their archiving are important selling points of a given business. However, developing efficient plans to handle recordkeeping has been a major challenge which requires resources as well as good implementation strategies for an effective system to be developed. The records management substantially increases the efficiency of decision making and contains future reference in case of the need for clarification. Due to the implementation of proper recordkeeping policies within the organization, the effectiveness of the process of creating, retrieving as well as using the information takes place therefore increasing productivity. Creation of proper records retention schedules, on the other hand, is important for saving storage space and meeting legal requirements. Because of the information obtained after working on this project, it has become obvious that records management policies are an important part for an effective running and managing of the company. They also help the organization achieve efficiency in cost saving, make use of the information in time of need, and seize the advantage of new technologies in the market. The information kept in the company can be later used as evidence hence helping in decision making.

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