Below are some basic pointers to create an effective records management program within your department. When in doubt, please do not hesitate to call the Records Management Office with questions regarding records retention, disposition, or reformatting. We strongly urge that you not make assumptions about these procedures.
Please contact Stephen Dalina, University Records Management Coordinator at 908-616-8669 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guidelines to Effective Records Management
- When creating a file think about future reference. Will you need to use this folder a week from now or perhaps a month from now, or even a year from now? How about never again?
- Are you creating the official record. (Is this record the ONLY source of information for the file subject?) The university personnel office on Busch campus is the official holder of all personnel records. The University Registrar holds the official record for students. Is the departmental personnel or student record redundant?
- Always put records in the right place. Don't just leave them in your desk drawer or on an unlabeled diskette.
- Break the extra copy habit. Create duplicate records only if necessary. Use a "duplicate - not for file" stamp when you send copies to others for information.
- Don't use filing space for supplies storage. If you cannot use the filing space, someone else in your department may be able to.
- Use of colored file folders is not recommended; if they get wet, the colors may run and obscure the information contained in the files.
- Lateral filing cabinets with end tab file folders are recommended for most efficient filing and use of space.
- Hanging folders require more space in a file drawer. Hanging folders are not reccommended.
- A recent trend is the elimination of legal size (8 1/2" x 14") documents, forms, file folders, supplies and equipment. Legal size equipment costs 13% more than letter size (8 1/2" x 11") and uses 16 % more floor space. We strongly urge, whenever possible, that you eliminate the use of legal size files, with the exceptions made for those documents which require the use of legal size paper. Conversion of legal size equipment to store letter size files is an option.
- Use the appropriate supplies for the job. Files being constantly handled may warrant a heavier grade manila folder. A lower quality file folder may be appropriate for files that are handled infrequently.
- Use charge-out cards when files are removed from the cabinet.
- Maintain records so that information is retrievable.
- Transfer the responsibility for your records to another employee when you seperate from the universiry. Remember records are the university's property. Provide an explanation of the purpose and use of your records, where they are located, and how to retrieve needed information.
- Be Retention Conscious - File your records according to their retention period. All records that can be disposed in 2 years should be filed together, not with records that have a longer retention
- Think about why you file something. The more you put into your filing system, the more you have to look through to find what you really need. Ask yourself questions such as: Why am I keeping information on a seminar that is already past? Why am I filing a memo sent to ten other people if I'm not the originator? Why am I keeping unsolicited materials?
- Remove outdated materials from all areas of your office. An accumulation of outdated documents makes it harder to locate it.
- Secure papers in file folders using fasteners. Don't use rubber bands to hold records together.
- Remove all unnecessary sticky notes before documents are filed. Sticky notes lose their adhesive over time. If truly necessary, secure it with a staple.
- Create a File Structure - Decide on a specific system for your files (alpha, subject, numeric, functional, etc.), codify it, and post it for all staff members to utilize when filing.
- When in doubt, give us a call.