Information and records are the lifeblood of any organisation, large or small. Proper records management assists with preserving organisational content and serves as an institutional memory.

This can ultimately help companies to manage their information more efficiently, protect from litigation, foster an environment of accountability and remove information silos, thereby improving cross-functional collaboration.

Anne-Marie Pretorius, MD at Bizmod Consulting, says that the poor management of records can hinder the development process of organisations and lead to inefficiencies in delivery.

“Process alone is not an adequate strategy to document every activity and transaction, especially in a sizable business,” says Pretorius. “Records need to be managed, both digitally and physically to support the company effectively.”

Pretorius lists five records management drivers that every organisation should consider:

* Compliance – Besides it being good practice to implement an effective records management strategy, there are various laws and regulations governing company records. Documents including employee tax records and files, ownership records, accounting records and operational documentation are all required to be kept for various time periods. Failure to adhere to these regulations could lead to large fines and even closure of a business.

* Reduced storage space – It is important for any business to control and ultimately reduce unnecessary storage costs. The identification of inactive records means that these can be moved to cheaper storage or alternatively, if older than required, be safely destroyed.

* Improved business efficiency – The costs involved in administering, filing, retrieving, and moving records are substantial. Hours of costly time could be spent searching for pertinent information in various storage formats, such as physical, digital and in various repositories or file shares. All this is reduced and even removed through professional records management.

* Minimising risk – Professional records management and data security work closely when it comes to protecting an organisation from information breaches. A breach can be costly and also cause irreparable harm to the reputation. Records management ensures that information is safeguarded, and the risk of a breach is minimised.

* Optimised business continuity – In the event of an emergency or natural disaster, the safety of records is of the utmost importance. Without access or recovery to records of clients, suppliers, partā€completed transactions, business operations are likely to come to a grinding halt.

Pretorius says that a proper records management process means that innovation is enabled far faster. “Understanding and having access to accurate records, and the information it contains allows companies to analyse, interpret and design new products, services, and enhancements. It ultimately allows for better executive decision-making.