Records Management 101: What is a Record?

Nicole Miller Marketing

“What is a record?”  – This is one of the first questions organizations have when implementing a management solution. It might seem like a basic question to ask, but it is harder to answer than you may think. Different organizations can have varying interpretations of what a record means to them.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) defines records as “…materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by an agency of the United States Government…with the transaction of public business and preserved…by that agency…as evidence of the organization…or because of the informational value of the data in them.” The Association of Records Managers and Administrators (ARMA) defines records as “Any recorded information, regardless of medium or characteristics, made or received and retained by an organization in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business.” While your organization may not be a government agency, both NARA and ARMA’s record definitions provide a solid understanding for what a record is: any piece of content (physical or electronic) created, received, or managed by the organization necessary to perform business activities.

Gimmal describes records as information subject to corporate, legal, or regulatory retention requirements. Documents are classified as records when they meet the criteria for classification into a Record Class configured in Gimmal Records Management. A record is defined by its content.

Below are some examples of what is and what isn’t a record:

Record examples:

  • Reports
  • Forms
  • Policies and procedures
  • Meeting minutes
  • Budgets
  • Contracts and agreements

Non-Record examples:

  • Drafts or work-in-progress material
  • Unofficial convenience copies
  • Blank form templates
  • Stock publications
  • Working papers

At its most fundamental, a record needs to adhere to a specific retention policy established by an authority or determined by the organization itself. This means that a mandatory lifecycle that needs to be enacted and managed. A retention schedule helps organizations identify and classify official records, define protocols for how long something must be retained, as well as determine how and when disposition occurs.

In addition, non-records are defined during this process, but many organizations choose to dismiss these entirely when considering an information governance strategy. Administering information governance policies allow organizations to remove unnecessary content and retain what is important. Non-records do not have any retention requirements specified in the retention schedule, however, disregarding this non-record content by not applying a lifecycle, is a mistake. Allowing this content to go unmanaged can be a liability to the company, cause an increase in content storage space, and lead to cluttered end user search results with old, stagnate and not useful information.

Gimmal recommends that organizations strive to manage all content. Gimmal Records Management allows organizations to centrally define the policies that must be applied to each repository’s content. Through the use of a single file plan, you can effectively manage the lifecycle of physical and electronic content. This approach allows for more flexible, enterprise-wide control of retention policies and better visibility into an organization’s information.

For more information on Gimmal Records Management, check out our webinar: Learn How to Manage Records Anywhere

*Gimmal Records Management in now Gimmal Records!