This article is part of our ongoing series on solutions for records management in local government. Our previous article discussed top records management challenges.
More and more state and local governments are taking part in the government digital transformation by digitizing documents, records, and other files instead of keeping what often amounts to hundreds of thousands of physical copies in cumbersome filing cabinets that take up a lot of space.
There are many benefits to going paperless, such as increased efficiency, convenient transfers of information, and upgraded security, but many agencies lack familiarity with digital document management systems. Because the digital government transformation is still relatively new, some may be unaware of electronic records management best practices.
In order to best serve citizens and get the most out of going paperless beyond the environmental benefits, government agencies should familiarize themselves with electronic file management best practices. Here, we’ll be identifying and summarizing five electronic records management best practices for local governments to follow.
Track and Record the Data that Means the Most
The first of these electronic file management best practices is fairly obvious–of course you’re going to pay special attention to documents with the most sensitive and important data–but that doesn’t make it any less crucial to a good electronic document and records management system.
This is probably the most important of these electronic records management best practices for governments considering all the information and data they have on citizens, local businesses and their own agency that should be kept private and confidential.
Ensure these kinds of files are kept safe and secure by tracking where they are located, who accesses them, when they get accessed, and what edits are made.
Create an Optimized Records Management Strategy
All agencies should have a records management plan that is clear and effectively communicated to staff. This strategy should also be as simple and straightforward as possible since the ecosystem of information architecture, data structures, and procedures and processes can be quite overwhelming.
A records management strategy should be constructed in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations and incorporate other electronic file management best practices.
Ensure All Data is Accurate and Kept Up to Date
This is perhaps another one of the more obvious electronic records management best practices, but definitely something your agency should consider. Not only will this ensure important information and data is always up to date, but it will help keep your agency on top of properly archiving and disposing of files when the time comes.
Electronic management systems make this easy to do since specific files can be quickly found, downloaded, and edited within minutes without the need to search through file cabinets and scan a copy.
Transfer Physical Records to Digital Ones
Your agency may have already turned many of your physical records into digital ones, and while it can be a time-consuming process, electronic file management best practices suggest you digitize everything.
This will help your agency make operational tasks more efficient and ensure that down the line you won’t be scrambling to find the paper copy of a file that was never scanned and uploaded to the system.
GovOS Records is a complete solution for agencies entrusted with the care of official public records.
Review Policies and Audit Frequently
However stringent you may be with your adoption of electronic records management best practices, it’s smart to review them with staff and conduct audits to ensure all documents are where they should be and that only those who need access have it.
Electronic records management best practices recommend your agency do annual reviews to assess your compliance with necessary standards and legislation. These audits will also give you valuable information on how you can become more efficient.