Vital Records  The Good Stuff Is In Here
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Vital Records The Good Stuff Is In Here Document Transcript

  • 1. Vital Records: The Good Stuff is in Here Patricia D. Jensen, CRM Richard E. Smith, CRM Introduction Over the years we have worked with companies who are interested in the Vital Records process to varying degrees. Some give lip service to the concept and agree they need to do something about it some day and others have a full functional program that is managed, audited and working well. What makes the difference? A good fire, flood, earthquake, or some other disaster often makes believers out management that a good simple Vital Records Management process that is maintained is good insurance and well worth the cost. From the beginning of records management practices as we know it the purpose of protecting Vital Records has remained consistent over the years. To ensure continuation of operations in the event of a disaster, it is essential to protect and secure certain records and documents. Disaster management strategies yield many benefits for records. Risk management techniques , good record keeping practices, vital records programs and prevention and preparedness plans can reduce the likelihood of disaster and be vital to the rapid recovery after a unforeseen disaster strikes. Business continuity, response and recovery planning will ensure that departments and businesses can react quickly to disasters, increasing the chances of controlling them and promptly, restoring operations. Such actions can promote continued profitability or revenue flow. In addition, having a viable records management plan in place can be a significant catalyst to improve a records management program and add significant value to the organizations risk management. “VITAL RECORDS” contain information essential to: • Emergency operations during and/or after a disaster. • Resumption and/or continuation of business operations. • Re-establishment of the business, legal, financial, and/or functional status. • Preservation of the company, its employees, customers, and stockholders’ rights. The common examples of vital records often include Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, contracts, accounts receivable, inventory, creative material, and research documentation, and intellectual property. Vital records may be stored on any media––hard copy, magnetic tape, microform, optical disk, etc. Depending on the reference activity, vital records may be either active or inactive. Vital Records: Who is Responsible for Identifying Them. In most organizations there is someone or several individuals who at the various department levels is responsible for overseeing the departments records management activities Usually this is an informal position and generally is assumed by a senior administrator or some self appointed individual who just knows the department very well. Lately many companies are beginning to recognize these individuals and formalizing the processes. We call these individuals Department Records Representatives (DRR). These individuals are well educated on Records Management techniques and generally have become experts among experts in their departments. Top Management is backing the DRR Program because they know that this is a risk area that must be attended to by someone. By formalizing the process and working it as a process that gets results they support it. Management at all levels has dedicated resources to it, and they are insisting that their people come to training classes to manage records.
  • 2. Additionally the top Quality System Management Representative, and the Quality ISO Implementation Team have become spokespeople for the DRR Program. And if that wasn't enough even our third party ISO audit team, hired by our organization labeled this program an industry best practice. Reasons that The DRR Program is a Best Practice can be the one of two of the most important factors in success or failure: I. Supplements Low Resources for Records Management Program • Because most Records Management Programs are sparsely staffed it only makes sense to spread out the duties of identifying and managing the records for a company to many different people so that awareness and practice are common place at the lowest possible levels in the organization. The plan and thinking behind the plan was straightforward and very simple. Get people at the department level involved through education and keep them involved through communication and accountability! • Focus the need for implementing Records Management practices on the individuals who create, receive, and/or maintain company records. • Put responsibility for Records Management at all levels for those records where they are created, received, and/or maintained. • Help management by creating a formal process where they can appoint someone to represent and help them ensure that a reasonable effort is put forth on managing records and information. • For us three people are managing the Core Records Management Process, DRR Program, Master Records Retention Schedule and Vital Records Program efforts. Additionally, the Core Records Management team is supplemented by expertise from well trained individuals who all have a “Certificate of Proficiency in Records and Information Management” from the Association of Records Managers and Administrators (ARMA). Additionally they oversee the daily activities of seven strategically located Active File Service Centers that manage paper and electronic records, reports and related data for various programs, and Defense Contract Management Command (DCMC) customers on a daily basis. • DRRs are active participants in creating and updating the Master Records Retention Schedule which includes Vital Records. Because of this participation, the records that are in MRRS are being used, known to the users of those records, and retention periods are being followed. DRRs and individuals at all levels when they become aware of the MRRS, they go to it for guidance. We also strongly believe that the reason the DRRs like and use this product is because they have played an active role and voice in creating and maintaining it. The Records Center. • No box goes to the Records Center without a DRR's name on the box. If the DRR moves to another job, a new DRR is assigned by management to assume responsibility for the box. This connectivity is designed to prevent problems that we have had in the past as programs and departments have been dissolved and people have moved. • DRRs are trained to properly identify their records that are packed in boxes using the MRRS. The eventual outcome of proper identification will result in fewer unnecessary records being sent off-site.
  • 3. • DRRs are being taught to index their boxes using an easy to use Records Management Software, thus taking the indexing job off of an overburdened Records Management staff and giving that responsibility to the customer. This is an efficient process, and an unanticipated benefit is that our customers are having fun with it and telling others about it. The DRR has become a focal point for filtering ISO information company-wide. • This filtering mechanism was not planned by Records Management but has evolved over the past year. Policies and Procedures used our DRR distribution list in April 99 to send specific process instructions to departments. • Many DRRs have become policy and procedure gurus. Because procedures are linked with records, they have become knowledgeable about both and extremely careful about how their records are handled in accordance with their procedures. DRR Communication Plan (a three-fold focus). • Web Page - The Records Management web page has current information on 4.16 Control of Quality Records, The DRR Program, The Retention Schedule link, Off-Site Storage, and Records Management Training Guides (including the DRR Training Guide, the Filing Guide, Disaster Recovery Guide, and the Records Management Responsibilities Guide). Other areas of coverage are the Company Procedure link, Master Files/Report Release Link, Company-Wide Records Mgt. Link, the company e- mail policy, Quality Policy, the Current DRR List, and notification of class schedules. Our Retention Schedule sub-page links to the Quality Assurance and Engineering Points of Contacts Records Pages that have been established by those organizations. • Formal Training Classes, Customer Visits, and DRR all-hands meetings - a training catalogue is available from the Training Section of the Records Mgt. Web Page that lists formal training classes that are available. Customer visits offer individualized service, and the all hands meetings are usually held before the ISO audits to focus on specific issues. Seminars have also been held that featured speakers such as Dr. Mark Langemo and John Montana. • Memos - are sent regular basis to the DRR Distribution list to inform the DRRs of upcoming events, explain new processes, and list changes that have been made in the latest MRRS update. Therefore Using DRRs for identifying Vital Records Makes Sense The Department Records Representatives is usually the best and often only person to oversee identifying a departments Vital Records and maintaining this list annually. The Vital Records inventory listing is shared with the Core records Management team who in turn incorporates it in a larger much more compressive listing of Company Vital Records. Before anything can be managed it must be identified. Vital Records Protection Scope Safeguarding vital records includes providing protection against the ordinary hazards of fire, water, mildew, light, dust, insects, rodents, acids, acid fumes, and excessive humidity. These records must also be protected against human hazards such as theft, misplacement, and unauthorized access. Disasters such as earthquakes, windstorms, explosions, and terrorist acts must also be considered. These hazards can cause loss of records integrity. Although all hazards cannot be eliminated, the objective is to reduce them to an acceptable minimum.
  • 4. Common Vital Records Protection Objectives 1. Recreate the financial position of the company. 2. Fulfill obligations to customers, Teammates, and other outside interests. 3. Provide inventories of properties and assets. 4. Resume data processing. 5. Resume operations. Sample Vital Records Procedures TITLE: Vital Records - Identification of Vital Records by Department Records Representative (s) The purpose is to define, clearly, the procedure involved in the handling of vital records. The identification and subsequent preservation of these documents is essential to the sustentation of the company as an institution following a disaster, devastation or potentially long term interruption of business policies, procedures and operations. Procedure 1. The first step is to determine whether or not your department has vital records. Vital records are defined as those that are essential to the operation of the organization, the continuation and/or resumption of operations following a disaster, the recreation of legal or financial status of the organization, or to the fulfillment of its obligation to stockholders and employees in the even of a disaster. This determination is made by the DRR. 2. Once a determination has been made and vital records have been identified, those records are then listed by the DRR on the Vital Records Inventory Form. 3. The DRR is to be considered the “owner” of the vital record. As such it is the responsibility of the DRR to regularly review those records which have been determined vital to insure that they continue to meet criteria. As is the case with other records shipped to Record Center, ownership of Vital Records passes from previous DRR to current DRR. 4. The DRR shall make a photo copy or microfilm copy of the original vital material to be maintained by the DRR and used for his/her department’s functional purposes. 5. The original record is then sent by the DRR to the Records Center for copying, safekeeping, and maintenance. Submitted by:______________________________ Date:________________________ Approved by:_______________________________ Date: _______________________ TITLE: Vital Records - Record Center The purpose is to define, clearly, the procedure involved in the handling of vital records. The identification and subsequent preservation of these documents is essential to the sustentation of the company as an institution following a disaster, devastation or potentially long term interruption of business policies, procedures and operations.
  • 5. Procedure: 1. The Record Center will receive vital records with the label displayed below. Vital Records marked with this label shall be considered to contain vital records and will treated as such. Accountable Mail Do Not Delay To: Records Center Mailcode List Item No(s). From: _______________DRR Mailcode: Form (REV 4 May 1999) Date Sent 2. The Record Center staff shall have eight (8) hours of regular business operating times from the time that the package containing vital records is received to complete the handling of vital records as presented in this procedure. A. Receipt of said package shall be considered to be the moment when Records Center staff comes into contact with this mail. B. Excluding the limitations of vacation days, holidays, weekends, staff availability, deliveries, and periodic operating delays due to the relocation of the Records Center, mail should be received by the record center staff once during the course of regular business hours Monday through Friday. This procedure does not in any way preclude or eclipse the procedures and practices of the Mail Room. C. The Record Center staff, having received the Vital Records from DRR, then sends an electronic verification of receipt to the DRR confirming the arrival of the Vital Records. Verifications will include the following information: A. Item - Number received, B. Record Type, C. Date Received, D. Location: Record Center box and shelf number, E. Name of Records Center Staff member confirming receipt. This notification insures that the information will be backed up and available in the event of a disaster or emergency. 8. Record Center will audit inventory and report physical inventory in storage twice a year (January and July). 9. The Record Center will maintain a copy of the vital records until which time as the material is deemed by the “owner” DRR, and the Record Center staff as no longer meeting the criteria of a Vital Record. Submitted by:________________________________ Date:___________________________ Approved by:_________________________________ Date:___________________________
  • 6. TITLE: Vital Records - Management by Department Records Representative The purpose is to define, clearly, the procedure involved in the handling of vital records. The identification and subsequent preservation of these documents is essential to the sustentation of the company as an institution following a disaster, devastation or potentially long term interruption of business policies, procedures and operations. Procedure 1. As DRR creates, receives and or maintains vital records from the department, they will make two copies of the original documents. 2. DRR prepares a company confidential interoffice envelope containing one duplicate of the Vital Record for transfer to the Records Center. 3. Envelops are to be mailed bearing the label, “Accountable Mail, Do Not Delay.” This label should be properly secured and clearly visible for Mailing Services. The Records Management team suggests covering the label with clear packing tape. 4. The Item Number is to be clearly written or typed in the space provided on the label. These Items Numbers will identify each Vital Record sent to the Records Center. Note: The words “Item Number” were specially selected to represent each document or record series. This a very important security precaution. 5. DRR's will maintain and complete the daily register from the GroupWise Acknowledgements by the Records Center Staff who received and processed the shipment. Register to be retained for four years and one month. 6. DRR's will maintain a copy of the vital records until which time as the material is deemed by the “owner” DRR, and the Record Center staff as no longer meeting the criteria of a Vital Record. DRR Additional Responsibilities 1. Control Access The DRR staff will complete the Controlled Document Authorization and submit complete forms to the Records Center for assignment of Access Codes. Note: This from is used to pre authorized access to information from Controlled Records. Upon signature of department head, an access code will be assigned by Records Center Team Leader and returned to the individual authorized access. 2. Follow-up DRR will track receipt of Vital Records shipped to the Record Center in accordance with the procedures for missing and lost microfilm listed below.
  • 7. Missing Vital Records If receipt of Vital Record is not acknowledge within three working days of shipment by DRR, all shipments for that period shall be considered missing. As such, the DRR will immediately contact the following: A. Record Center Team Leader to verify any possible verification oversight; B. Mailing Services for resolution. Lost Vital Records After five days, any microfilm not relocated shall be considered lost. As such, a new copy of the microfilm will be created by DRR and mailed to the Record Center in accordance with the procedures given above. Register is to be updated documenting loss and receipt of replacement. Submitted by:_________________________________ Date:___________________________ Approved by:_________________________________ Date:___________________________ Summary Vital Records generally account for less then 5% of all records created received and/or maintained by an organization. They are essential to the operation of the Company, the continuation and/or resumption of operations following a disaster, the recreation of legal or financial status of the organization, or to the fulfillment of its obligation to stockholders and employees in the event of a disaster. Some examples of vital records include certificates of common stock, articles of incorporation, rulings from government agencies, and blueprints and formulas. Ignoring the fact that vital records exist and not putting a plan, no matter how simple, in place is irresponsible. Therefore every records manager has a responsibility to educate themselves on Vital Records identification techniques, encourage and help management put a plan in place. Disasters are in the news everyday and they are a great way to educate management at all levels as to the potential risks and consequences. We wish you well in your work to protect your company and personal life from loss and risk. Please have fun and if and when disaster strikes hopefully you will be ready. Good luck. .