Managing Your Information

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A short training presentation on information management (IM) best practices, with an emphasis on records management.

A short training presentation on information management (IM) best practices, with an emphasis on records management.

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  • So, what do we think of when we think of records management? Here are some common phrases that we tend to hear from time to time….
  • The ISO 15489 defines records management as "The field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including the processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records". Information management ( IM ) is the collection and management of information from one or more sources and the distribution of that information to one or more audiences. This sometimes involves those who have a stake in, or a right to that information. Information is at the center of everything an organization does: strategy management, research and development, compliance. How the organization manages that information and its corporate records can directly affect its ability to compete, comply with regulations, and recover from disaster – in other words, to operate efficiently. As records are a primary means of recording these activities, it is difficult to separate records management from information management.
  • First, we need to define what we mean by ‘records.’ (click) The Archives and Recordkeeping Act is clear on the definition of records. Remember that it’s the content, or the contained information, that is important. Records can take the form of paper documents, Sound recordings, Video tapes, DVDs, Handwritten notes, Electronic records, e-mail, Microfilm, Plans, drawings, maps, Pictorial and graphic works, Web sites, Blogs, Wikis, and finally text messages, including blackberry messages.
  • An example of transitory records is a blank form. You really don’t need to manage a blank form, because it provides no operational resource for your program area.
  • Now, records have their very own lifecycle. Once they are created, they enter their active phase. In this phase they are operationally vital, and they may deal with projects that are in progress, or clients that are still active. Once records are no longer necessary for day-to-day operations, they enter a semi-active phase. These records are usually kept off-site at Information Storage and Retrieval (IS&R), often called the records centre. Finally, records enter an inactive phase. Here records are no longer required for operational purposes, and they reach their final disposition. In this phase, notification is sent to individual program area manager responsible for these records, and approval for destruction or transfer to Ontario Archives is requested. Once approval has been granted, inactive records are dispatched.
  • Point 2: Workers spend from 15% to 35% of their time searching for information 15% of the time is spend on duplicating existing information Searchers are successful in finding what they seek 50% of the time or less -source: IDC Point 3: Having the right information, at the right time is vital and effects business continuity. IM is part of the innovation process
  • However, ultimately we do records management because we have a long list of legislation and directives which tell us to do it.
  • The Archives and Recordkeeping Act is clear on why the OPS keeps records. There are four major reasons why the OPS creates and maintains its records. First and foremost, records are necessary for conducting the daily business of government, documenting decisions, transaction and activities; rights, privileges and obligations. Records foster government accountability and transparency. Records safeguard vital information (those documents which are vital to your program area’s operations) through security classifications that are applied to records as they are created and maintained Records create a corporate memory, preserving information for the benefit of present and future generations.
  • Implemented September 1, 2007
  • The OPS has a number of Policies, Standards and Directives that are designed to provide further direction on government our ministry’s records and information. Currently, the IM Policy Renewal Project has reviewed these resources and consulted with the OPS RIM Community. The MTO RIM Unit has been involved in providing feedback and suggestions on the proposed policies, which should be ready to roll by the end of Q1 in the next fiscal year.
  • If there is a gap in coverage of records series available, it is the manager’s responsibility to discuss this need with the MTO RIM Unit No record will be destroyed, or transferred out of your jurisdiction, without notification to you, and your approval. The wellbeing of the records within your program area is your responsibility as manager.
  • You may not destroy or damage records without the authority of a record series. The final disposition of a record is stipulated in its specific record series, and must be adhered to, unless the record is of on-going operational use. However, we will discuss routine the final disposition process later in this presentation.
  • Records series allow you to eliminate a needless collection and storage of records – and it becomes too difficult to locate information for your operational needs. In this case, original documents could be mixed with drafts and copies – and there is a potential for outdated information being applied, resulting in enterprise-wide embarrassment. With the potential to accumulate massive amounts of records, it would be a tremendous challenge to effectively organize your information. Records that are not organized for proper retrieval are virtually useless to you. Important information could be lost forever, and searching for specific information can become very costly in staff time to search for them. Retaining records longer than necessary results in problems with FOI access. If documentation is available, it must be produced when requested under an FOI access request. Retaining old, invalid information also results in additional maintenance costs, including storage, filing and general maintenance. At the other extreme, destroying records because they seem to serve little purpose should be avoided. The Archivist of Ontario determines whether records have an ongoing value as historical documentation. At the end of their lifecycle, these records are retained in the Archives, and cannot be destroyed. If this information is lost, the people of Ontario lose a portion of the history of our ministry and of how things came to be.
  • Aside from the business reasons to implement record series, there are legal consequences to disregarding the Archives and Recordkeeping Act.
  • Ultimately, Information Management is everyone’s responsibility. We should all know how to monitor our IM practices, and what these practices entail. And, we should all know who to go to, or where to go, for guidance on improving information practices.
  • However, as managers you have specific responsibilities: If there is a gap in coverage of records series available, it is the manager’s responsibility to discuss this need with the MTO RIM Unit The wellbeing of the records within each program area is the responsibility of the program area manager, and this includes ensuring that staff receive appropriate training in records and information management practices.
  • As your IM Source, the MTO RIM Unit has several responsibilities, including…
  • Records series are approved by the Archivist of Ontario, legal services (if required), program managers responsible for records, and the MTO RIM Unit. For our purposes, we’re primarily interested in Records Series. The Records Schedule for the Ministry of Transportation is organized by series of records and spells out the retention and final disposition of these series.  The Ministry of Transportation RIM Unit creates and maintains all of the records series within the ministry.
  • Each of these benefits contribute to greater operational efficiency and effectiveness.
  • The MTO has adopted the government common series. These common series can be found on the Archives of Ontario intranet site through the MyOPS Website. One of the differences between the government common series and an MTO series is that the government common series do not specify on-site and off-site retention; only the overall total retention period is given, whereas MTO Records Series do indicate these storage time frames.
  • Here is a range of the business records that area managed by government common series.
  • This is a basic outline of the procedure to implement the final disposition for records that are stored at IS&R. Once we’ve received your approval for final disposition, we can sign the records off, and return the notice to IS&R. For records that reach their final disposition on-site, MTO has implemented an on-site records destruction process.
  • This is an example of the disposition notice we receive from IS&R. We receive a varying number of these notices late in the calendar year, and each notice could have one or many lines indicating records of different records series. However, the notice does not indicate which program area the records originate. The RIM Unit verifies the ownership of these records with our own records registry, which includes locating the originating office. However, as the OPS is a continuously growing and changing environment, program areas sometimes shift within the organization, are re-named under a new mandate, or cease to exist entirely. Additionally, the original paperwork may not include any indication of the originating office. Once we have determined the most likely authority for a set of records, we draft a memorandum to invite the program area manager to grant approval for their records to be destroyed or to be transferred to archives (as per their records series). As the authority for records which have reached this stage in the records lifecycle, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have acted quickly and knowledgably. Here is how this process is again, more about people than the records themselves. We recommend, if you are unfamiliar with them, you consult with your staff to ensure that the specific records are no longer required for operational reasons. While we cannot accept approvals from your staff, we recognize that it may be your staff who have the most direct knowledge that will assist you in granting approval.
  • Benefits of documenting on-site records destruction: Improving IM auditability Ensuring 3 rd Party verification Contact the MTO RIM Unit for form and support
  • Unlike paper records, electronic records are not transferred to IS&R. Instead, there is a transfer protocol to transfer electronic records directly to Ontario Archives. However, only records deemed ‘archival’ in a record series are permitted transfer to Archives. The only other disposition is destruction, and it is the role of the program area manager to ensure that their records are destroyed at the appropriate time in accordance with their retention schedule. For electronic records that are kept on-site for a significant period of time, it is important to ensure that information is migrated to new systems, in order to maintain its accessibility. Everyone recognizes that there has been phenomenal growth in the development of electronic records. Currently, the OPS is engaged in developing an Information Management (or IM) Initiative. This includes preparation for an EIM, or electronic information management program. This is becoming more and more important, because while we still produce paper records, electronic records are gaining dominance in the OPS.
  • Recent developments in litigation and access to information also present significant drivers for managing the content of e-mail. E-discovery is a growing area of litigation activity, and access requests can often require that Freedom of Information coordinators sift through voluminous e-mails to provide the requester with the best response. Everyday users of e-mail are continuously faced with the challenging questions related to managing content for business use: how to control document versions when attached to e-mail threads; which e-mail contains the approval to commence procurement; how do we know a deleted e-mail has really been deleted? Official records must be scheduled according to a records retention schedule. Records retention schedules indicate how the record should be handled throughout its lifecycle. Most importantly, records retention schedules provide clarity on the end of a record’s lifecycle and whether it should be sent to the Archives of Ontario for permanent storage, or whether it should be destroyed. Storing official records (e.g. e-mails that record an important decision) on a network drive will help make the application of records retention schedules easier to do. Trying to apply records retention schedules individual e-mails may be difficult, if not impossible.
  • To help reduce clutter, delete transitory messages as soon as possible. When attempting to determine responsibilities for managing the content of an e-mail, you should consider the service or project it is associated with, or the subject for which the record was created. -While everyone is responsible for managing government information, it is not reasonable to expect that everyone will be responsible for managing the same e-mail message. Saving documents to a network drive is another way to store electronic information. This is probably the most common practice in the OPS, although it, too, has some weaknesses. For example, in order to be useful, all users need to have a common understanding and need to practice a common way of naming, saving, storing, classifying, and using shared files in this way. When saving e-mails it is important to ensure that the date of the message is reflected in the file name. By simply adding the date you can reduce uncertainty, speed up search and retrieval times, and help organize the information better.
  • Users will need to remember that there is a difference between the terms ‘ privacy ’, ‘ security ’, and ‘ confidentiality ’. Confidentiality implies that you maintain the trust placed in you by others when storing or forwarding information. Maintain confidentiality placed in you when: forwarding e-mails, copying (CC’ing), blind copying (BCC’ing), storing messages on a network (e.g. in drive shared by your branch or division), or using access controls and permissions or encryption to maintain confidentiality.
  • We recommend that you retain all of your records series in a binder, including the relevant common series. You could also create a Records Series folder on your computer desktop, containing .pdfs of your records series, with links to the MTO RIM Unit’s website for more resources. We also recommend that you create and maintain your own RIM Registry, a binder or digital folder containing your records transfer lists (with the relevant box contents listings) in chronological order. You can even create an index page, where you can record your RIM activities, including any on-site records destruction, transfers to IS&R, or retrievals. A Unit RIM Registry is an important tool in gaining greater accountability for your records. This allows your unit to comply with auditing requests more efficiently and with greater confidence.
  • While it may seem that records and information management is focused on the products we produce in the OPS, it has much more to do with our management of people . When staff are equipped with the tools, resources and knowledge, they can accomplish their tasks efficiently and accurately. As managers, you have an important role in enabling your staff to succeed in their records and information management practices. And, this enabling will allow your staff to provide the support your units require to complete their mandates and goals. On a personal level, you can ensure that you avoid this (CLICK) and aim for a clutter-free workspace to help you work, knowing that your records are taken care of responsibly.
  • Thank you for your attention. I hope that I have communicated to you how beneficial records and information management can be to your business, and my own enthusiasm for where IM is headed in the OPS. If you would like more information on record series, on-site records destruction or to arrange training for your staff, please contact the LTC RIM Unit. You will receive this slide deck, the OPS Guideline on Email Management, and the Information Security and Privacy Policy following the meeting today. We have time for questions now.


  • 1. Managing Your Information A How-To Guide for Records & Information Management
  • 2. Agenda
    • Introduction: What is Information Management?
    • Legislation, Regulations & Policies
    • Roles and Responsibilities
    • Is it Archival? Understanding Record Series
      • Government Common Series for Policy Records
    • Final Disposition Notification
      • On-site records destruction – the right way!
    • Electronic Records Management
    • Information Security
    • RIM Auditability: Keeping Track of Your Records
  • 3.
    • What do we think of when we think of records management?
    Keeping Records is not my responsibility Records Management is obsolete, now that we only create digital documents. Records Management is a chore. It takes time that I could be using for core business Records Management is a waste of time We only create records for legal reasons Records Management is boring, why would I want to do that when my real work is more interesting and more important?
  • 4. Records vs Information Management?
  • 5. What is a record?
    • As defined by the Archives and Recordkeeping Act, 2006 (ARA):
    • It can take the form of:
      • Paper documents (handwritten notes, printed reports
      • Electronic records (e.g. databases, email)
      • Graphic images (e.g. drawings, maps, photos)
    A record is recorded information that supports the activity of the business or organization that created it.
  • 6. Transitory Records Transitory Records are records that have only minimal significance and generally need to be kept for short periods of time. They do not include records required by the government to support operational or decision-making activities, or to support government accountability. Transitory records are scheduled by the Government Common Transitory Records Series.
  • 7. Records Lifecycle
  • 8. Trends in IM
    • Shifting the focus from control to access
    • Empower people by making their information available and accessible
    • Empower people to meet their informational needs
    • Ease of Use, Ease of Integration
    • Using the right tools to manage our information
  • 9. Legislation and Directives
    • Archives and Recordkeeping Act, 2006 (ARA)
    • Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
    • Electronic Commerce Act
    • Personal Health Information Protection Act
    • Canada Evidence Act & Evidence Act (Ontario)
  • 10. Why keep records? Necessary for conducting the daily business of government, documenting decisions, transactions and activities; rights, privileges and obligations Fosters government accountability and transparency Safeguards vital information Preserves information for the benefit of present and future generations
  • 11. Archives and Recordkeeping Act, 2006 (ARA)
      • “ to foster government accountability and transparency by promoting and facilitating good recordkeeping by public bodies.”
    “ to ensure that the public records of Ontario are managed, kept and preserved in a usable form for the benefit of present and future generations.” “ to encourage the public use of Ontario’s archival records as a vital resource for studying and interpreting the history of the province.”
  • 12. IM Policy Renewal Project OPS IM Policies, Standards and Directives CURRENT PROPOSED
  • 13. Recordkeeping Obligations of MTO Develop records series for all program areas. Retain and transfer or otherwise dispose of records in accordance with approved records series. Ensure that records are preserved and that the information in public records is accessible
  • 14. What Not to do
    • Unless in accordance with an approved records series or as approved by the Archivist of Ontario, we may not:
      • Destroy or damage a record
      • Alter a record so as to delete information from it
      • Make a record illegible
      • Remove a record from their custody or control
      • Conceal a record from a public body or the Archivist of Ontario.
      • 2006, c. 34, Sched. A, s. 15 (1).
  • 15. Consequences
    • If not managed effectively, records can cost the organization time and money, as well as open the door to the risk of litigation or exposure.
  • 16. There are consequences
  • 17. Roles & Responsibilities for Everyone Establish and monitor accountability for managing information, eliminating the guesswork of who does what and when Ensure that the recordkeeping system provides reliable access to your records Know where to find resources for recordkeeping policies, procedures, guidelines
  • 18. Roles & Responsibilities for Managers Ensure that all information under your immediate custody and control is- Ensure that there is no unnecessary collection and maintenance of information
      • Organized and stored securely to protect it from physical damage and from unauthorized access, alteration, removal or destruction
    Managed by approved records series that are continuously implemented
  • 19. Roles & Responsibilities for RIM Office Provide records management information consultation and assistance Develop/Update & interpret records series
      • Consult on transferring records to IS&R, records retrieval, records destruction
    Design and deliver RIM Training Develop file classification plans
  • 20. What is a Record Schedule? The records schedule for each ministry is organized by series of records and spells out the retention and final disposition of these series. A records series is defined as the total body of related records, whether in one or more formats, that is separately organized and maintained because the records relate to a particular function or subject or result from the same activity. A records series is assigned its own retention period and final disposition. ARA, 2006, c. 34, Sched. A, s. 11 (1).
  • 21. Why do we need Records Series?
    • Records series allow us to:
      • Prevent records from being kept too long or destroyed too soon
      • Ensure that records identified as having permanent value are transferred to the Archives of Ontario
      • Reduce space needs and storage costs
      • Allow more efficient use of staff time
      • Enhances accountability
    Under the Archives and Recordkeeping Act, 2006 , no government record may be destroyed without a records retention schedule/series authorized by the Archivist of Ontario.
  • 22. Government Common Series
    • Government common records series describe records that are typically found in many public bodies. The common series that are adopted form part of the public body’s records schedule along with series and sub-series that are specific to the public body’s programs and services.
  • 23. Areas supported by Common Series
    • Human Resources Management
    • Purchasing: Equipment, Supplies and Services
    • Accommodations and Moveable Assets
    • Financial Management
    • Audit Management
    • Information and Information Technology Management
    • General Administration
    • Communications
    • Deputy Ministers’ Office
    • Legal Services
    • Ministers’ Office
    • Policy and Planning
    • Transitory Records
  • 24. Final Disposition Process 1. RIM Office receives disposition notice from IS&R 2. RIM Office verifies records information and authority. Draft memoranda requesting approval for final disposition from program area. 3. Program area managers approve final disposition using email voting buttons 4. RIM Office Coordinator signs off disposition notice and returns it to IS&R to action disposition
  • 25. Final Disposition Communication
  • 26. Final Disposition Notification It is the record custodian’s responsibility to participate in the final disposition process quickly and accurately Your records will not be destroyed or transferred to Ontario Archives without your approval.
  • 27. On-Site Records Destruction
    • Improving IM auditability
    • Ensuring 3 rd Party verification
  • 28. Electronic Records Consider using external hard-drives to store semi-active information: easily labelled, easily secured, better managed. The authority for a transfer is a records series. Many series govern records that exist in both paper and electronic form. The use of offline removable media such as CDs or DVDs is not recommended, especially for long-term storage . Such media are fragile, vulnerable to loss, corruption and may over time become technologically obsolete and thus inaccessible. They are also less secure, and are not virus checked/refreshed on a regular basis.
  • 29. Managing Your Email
    • Email Guidelines for the OPS, published by OCCIPO in 2009
    • Litigation and access to information also present significant drivers for managing the content of e-mail
    • Email can include both official and transitory records
    Remember: managing information applies to the content — not the format .
  • 30. What to do with Email
    • De-clutter your email
    • Establish record ownership
    • Save official email records to a network drive in .msg format
    • Use folders in Outlook to help sort your e-mails by subject, organizational unit, or according to your branch file plan.
    • Familiarize yourself with security requirements, such as those detailed in the Information Security and Privacy Classification documentation
  • 31. Information Security
    • • Confidentiality requirements will apply to, for example:
      • e-mails,
      • content (e.g. forms, documents, reports, etc.),
      • official records or other government information,
      • context-specific information,
      • client services,
      • consultations,
      • interactions with vendors,
      • procurement,
      • inter-government communications,
      • reporting,
      • cabinet documents,
      • investigations.
  • 32. RIM Auditability
    • Keep your Records Series handy
    • Retain a copy of all box contents listings for semi-active records stored at IS&R
    • Keep a copy the Records Transfer List, until the original is return to you
    • Obtain authorization for on-site records destruction & document records destruction activities
  • 33. Conclusion
  • 34. Questions? Comments?
    • Contact me at:
    • [email_address]