Records management, document management

Orderly records management is the backbone of an efficient administration. As well as ensuring that administrative actions are legally watertight and transparent, it facilitates continuity and makes routine work easier. Paper-based document management processes are increasingly being replaced by predominantly electronic processing and dedicated technological solutions for handling specific processes. The very term “records management” also takes this development into account: the term “records” encompasses organisationally relevant information regardless of its form and storage medium.

The term also includes the documentation of all relevant processing steps; records are “managed” with the intention of ensuring that notes, information and processing steps are reliable and leave a reliable audit trail. Records must also be retrievable, accessible and usable at any point, at a minimum during the retention periods specified for the respective record categories. Fundamental aspects of records management encompass purposeful file management on the basis of the filing plan, transparent filing structures for folders and files and the storage of important files in formats (such as PDF/A) that are suitable for long-term digital archiving. When these fundamentals are adhered to, the processing status of any specific matter can be fully and reliably verified at any time by people with the authority to do so even when they are deputising for someone else. Being able to find content quickly without consulting colleagues also facilitates the efficient division of labour in offices.

The life cycle of a file

Record keeping – what purposes does it serve?

The North Rhine-Westphalian state agency IT.NRW answers this question in several explanatory videos. They provide clear and entertaining overviews of the basic building blocks of sound records management: files, records, documents, determining relevance for record keeping, the filing plan – and the question of what it is all for? To watch the videos (in German), you will first have to read and recognise the applicable terms of use.

Note: The specific purpose of the explanatory videos is to illustrate records management using electronic files. But they also serve as a good general introduction to records management. Some of the terms and regulations used there may differ from terms used at the University of Bamberg.