What You Need to Know About Records Management Training and Solutions
Staff members in local government know how challenging it can be to manage their records well and with consistency. It’s a frustrating day when someone needs a record that appears to be missing. Staff members can waste many hours trying to track down a single document.
Most staff would probably agree that records management needs to be a priority. Yet, it’s one of those areas where there’s no clear responsibility for it. No one ever seems to get to it either. Without the proper resources, staff continues to put off developing a records management system.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Software solutions provide a way to file and retrieve documents quickly. Electronic records management solutions are easy to use, efficient and cost-effective. When the staff or a member of the public needs a document, a trained staff member can get it in seconds.
Data breaches occur regularly at businesses, nonprofits and government entities, which are making national headlines and posing legal and financial risks. Local governments have a lot to lose by waiting to implement a records management system. They have a lot to gain by getting one.
Risks of Not Having a Good Records Management System
Local governments don’t often think about all the things that could go wrong unless something happens that puts them in the hot seat. The reality is that not properly managing government records can create significant legal risks.
Data breaches are on the rise and local governments aren’t exempt from being targets.
The International City/County Management Association, in partnership with the University of Maryland, surveyed local governments about cybersecurity. About 40% of local governments said they felt it was important to learn more about cybersecurity problems. The top-three things related to cybersecurity that local governments worried about were: 1) greater funding for cybersecurity; 2) better cybersecurity policies; and 3) greater cybersecurity awareness among local government employees.
Not having a secure records management system can cause risks of data breaches. Manual processes for retaining documents cause the risk of human error. According to iCompass’s survey of local governments, about 80% of the municipalities admitted that they don’t conduct an annual audit of their records management program to make sure they manage records appropriately.
The general public is also entitled to any public documents. Local governments must provide documents that the public requests through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) within a specified time frame. This constitutes a legal request, and governments may be fined for not complying with such requests in a timely manner.
Not being able to locate documents easily enough causes frustration for local government staff and it disrupts their daily workflow. At the same time, the public has gotten used to other industries using technology to create speed and efficiency and they expect the same accommodations from their local governments.
Training in Records Management Is Weak in Local Governments
Our survey of local governments shows that most municipalities take a casual approach to training their staff about records management. About 83% of local governments don’t provide any training on records management to their staff at all. Lack of training creates a risky situation because employees aren’t properly trained to protect the government.
Our survey also revealed a laxness on assigning responsibility for managing records. About 56% of the respondents said that their municipalities assigned records management to a specific department and 41% said they didn’t have an assigned department. The remaining 3% of respondents were unsure whether a department was assigned.
In other results, we asked local governments if they assigned the responsibility for records management to a specific individual. About 65% of staff said their municipality had identified someone and 32% said there was no one. The other 3% weren’t sure.
We also wanted to learn more about whether municipalities were training their employees in records management. Our survey showed that about 83% of local government staff had received no formal training in records management at all. Only about 11% of government employees said they’d had formal training in records management and 6% said they weren’t sure.
Another statistic that we were interested in was whether local governments had assessed the effectiveness of their records management programs. About 81% of the municipalities stated that they didn’t measure the effectiveness at all. About 8.5% said they had some form of measurement and 10% of government employees weren’t sure.
As part of their oversight duties, boards need to review processes and practices. Our survey indicated that almost 80% of boards weren’t evaluating their records management practices and program areas. Only 10% of governments evaluate their records management practices and 10% weren’t sure.
Electronic Records Management Is A Revolutionary Software Solution
With iCompass’s Records Management system, staff members can upload, classify and set the retention schedule for documents. The system stores the documents securely in the cloud, eliminating server costs and protecting them from hackers. The system classifies documents according to our local, county or state retention schedule and tracks documents throughout their lifecycle.
Most local governments still retain some level of paper documents. As an added convenience, iCompass’s system manages paper documents, in addition to electronic documents.
Finding and retrieving documents is easy. Just browse the files or use the search box to find the information for which you’re looking.
iCompass’s Records Management system integrates seamlessly with the Transparency Portal. Citizens can also browse or use the search box to pull up any documents that are marked for the public. This feature cuts way down on citizen requests for FOIA documents, freeing up staffp for other duties.
The Best Time for Records Management Is Now
Government workers have told us that their number one challenge is workload. They have also told us that implementing new technology is a high priority on their list for the next 12–18 months.
The best time to invest in a records management system is now. The Records Management system will help your local government work smarter, not harder, because they’ll be able to streamline operations and work more efficiently. Records Management by iCompass reduces risks and automates all phases of records management for enhanced governance and improved service to your citizens.