Records Governance, Part 1: Preserve the Value of Your Information

Records governance isn’t a nice to have, it’s critical to ensure the integrity and accuracy of your records. If your company is ever involved in legal action, your records will provide key evidence. Those records have to be authentic and reliable.

“The international standard for records management (ISO 15489) states that authoritative records should have authenticity, reliability, integrity, and useability [sic].” — The Probative Value of Archive Documents, by Trudy Huscamp Peterson

Organizations today face many challenges to preserve their information asset. Different business systems are used to create and manage content and data without any governance of their integrities or their retention periods. Any content/data deemed important to maintain for compliance reasons should be followed by a records management system. For example, ENGIE, one of the biggest company in the world in the business of gas, power and energy services, uses the everteam records management solution for driving their governance policies

Moreover, this records management solution provides capabilities to not only store records, but guarantee they can be accessed by the appropriate people and exported and readable at any point in the future.

Whether you store records to comply with industry regulations or based on your own company policies, there are three things ensuring that you can trust genuinely on your information capital.

How To Ensure Records Integrity

Your organization creates and manages a great deal of information both content and data. When this information is deemed to be important and stored as records they are stored in a records management solution where no one can modify them.

Integrity means that you follow your records to insure at any time in their lifecycle that your records are exactly the same as when they were first imported into the records management solution.

To ensure integrity, you must deploy dedicated features that confirm the integrity of every file.

Reversibility – is the Record Readable?

Business systems come and go. So how do you know content or data created in a business system that is retired will be readable in the future?

Reversibility is the process to making sure your files and datas can be read and accessible in the future. For example, the file format you choose to store your content is important and depends on the type of file, but there are a couple of general rules you should follow:

  1. Text-based Content: According to ISO19005, PDFa is the common standard for storing text-based files. PDFa is a specialized version of Adobe PDF that is used for long-term storage of page-based documents. This standard maximizes device independence, ensures the document is completely self-contained and self-documented with the appropriate standards-based metadata.
  2. Data: Data is typically stored in some type of database, either relational or NoSQL. In a relational database, data is stored in tables, rows and columns. In a NoSQL database, data is stored as documents typically in XML format. To ensure the reversibility of the data stream, they should be exported to XML or CSV (comma separated values) and stored in the records management application.

Also, when you place a file or data in an a records management application, the ability to retrieve all that content at any point in the future is necessary. Many organization find this difficult to do.

Your Records Management application requires an export function that can easily retrieve the record in human readable format.

Audit – What is the Record Lifecycle?

Storing a record isn’t enough to ensure its integrity and reliability. It’s also very important to track all the actions on the document. By tracking how a document is accessed and used, you can ensure that no one does anything do the record they don’t have permission to do.

A Records Management application must support the creation and maintenance of an audit trail, typically stored and signed to insure his reliability. This audit trail is accessible from a record directly.

You need to create an audit trail for the lifecycle of the record. Some things you must audit include:

  • Who did an action on the record ?
  • When this action happened ?
  • What was this action ?

End Note

The integrity of records is critical. Ensuring reversibility and auditability are all important ways to ensure your records are authentic and reliable and have demonstrable genuine value. There are many other ways to take in account to preserve the Value of Your Information, but these are the key ways.

Next time we’ll look at how you can provide one solution to manage all archiving needs.

Ask a Question