What is records management?
Records management is the discipline of managing records throughout their “lifecycle” from the point of creation or capture through to their eventual disposition. Disposition is either disposal by destruction or by transfer to an archive for permanent preservation. This ensures that, regardless of the media in which they exist, the right records are accurate, reliable, available and not retained for longer than is necessary. A record is any form of information created, received and/or maintained by Queen Mary during the conduct of its business. Records can be created and stored in any format or media and are used to provide historical or legal evidence of the activities and transactions taking place and the decisions made within the institution. Also see the ISO's definitions [DOC 13KB].
Why manage records?
Apart from the regulatory and legislative drivers, managing information has a number of business benefits which assist Queen Mary to function more efficiently. Records management facilitates sharing of information, reduces costs, reduces duplication, supports decision-making and saves staff time.
There are many advantages to good records management throughout their lifecycle:
- helps you do your job better. It supports ease and efficiency of working and decision-making
- saves you time by ensuring you can find the information you need easily, when you need it and isn’t wasted searching for information that may not be there or wading through stuff that could have been destroyed
- protects you and Queen Mary by providing evidence of people’s rights and entitlements, and shows what was done and why
- reduces costs, particularly those related to space, by ensuring you don’t keep any more records than you have to, and that you know when you can delete or destroy them
- helps Queen Mary to comply with its statutory obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and data protection legislation
- maintains the corporate memory
- provides records on which you can rely, both by helping you find the appropriate version and by giving records a high value as evidence if they are needed in a court of law or by an auditor
So we keep records for the administrative, legal, financial, informational and/or historic value they hold.
Who is responsible for managing records?
All staff are responsible for ensuring:
- complete and accurate records are maintained for the activities for which they are responsible
- they understand and follow the Records Retention Policy, Schedule and procedures (see below)
- records are filed correctly (both paper and electronic). Transfer them to storage if and when appropriate and review them regularly to identify those due for disposal in accordance with the policy
See the Dos and Don'ts page for more information.
Policy and procedures
A retention policy is not just about retention but also about disposition of records after a specified period of time. The Records Retention Policy consists of two parts: the Records Retention Policy [PDF 235KB] document setting out principles and responsibilities, and the Records Retention Schedule. The Retention Schedule sets out the lengths of time records across Queen Mary are to be retained. At the end of this retention period they should normally be destroyed unless they have been identified for permanent preservation. Retention periods apply regardless of the medium and records in storage must be inventoried.
In addition, the Information Classification Policy is relavant as it inlcudes guidance on the storage, handling and disposal of information.
Guidance on electronic records
More and more information these days is created and retained in digital formats. The principles of managing this type of information are the same as for physical assets but the practice can be somewhat different. Therefore some specific guidance has been created.
See the Managing electronic information page for more details.
What about archives?
Some records have a permanent legal, administrative, historic or research value. Queen Mary aims to preserve records designated as such in The Archives which is based in the Library. Certain items from the School of Medicine and Dentistry will be preserved by the Barts Health NHS Trust archives.