The final blog in our series about reducing paper mountains, you need to ask yourself, how can you prevent these paper mountains from happening again? There’s no point scaling Everest if you have to mount another expedition in a few years time.
Here are some tips we’ve gathered from agencies who have already successfully scaled their paper mountains.
Make recordkeeping visible in your agency
- Add records to the agency risk registers – Records are assets and need to be valued in the same way as other assets. This will allow you to know where your vital and high-value records are.
- Undertake regular records audits – Recordkeeping is a fundamental activity of all agencies and the foundation of an accountable government. Regular audits will allow agencies to look at processes to determine if they are still fit for purpose or need improvement.
- Have a central point of contact for offsite storage providers – If the agency has multiple accounts, centralise into one area and either cut down on the number of accounts or merge together into one account. This will help keep an eye on the costs of storage and use this information if considering another provider. You want to make sure that you’re not paying for boxes of coat hangers out at offsite storage!
- Have business areas take responsibility for approving the payment of storage costs – This will make business areas aware of how much is being spent on storage for their records and may have them carefully consider what they are sending to offsite storage.
- Focus on the processes that create a lot of paper and see if they can become fully digital – your agency might still ask applicants to print off forms and send them in instead of doing it all digitally. Working with a business analyst will help you document the process and how it could be streamlined and automated. Workflow within your eDRMS may be able to support you to do this.
- Embed recordkeeping into business systems – this could help streamline business practices and implement electronic workflows and approvals. Also try and embed records management into business KPIs and reporting. Consider recordkeeping requirements as part of new system designs.
Check out the website for our Strategic Recordkeeping – Technology advice.
- Where possible, sentence records at time of creation – sentencing on creation will allow your agency to treat the records according to their value and to make sure that they are preserved and managed for as long as they are required.
- Look at current disposal processes – What activities are currently being undertaken? Who participates in each step of the process? Does the process comply with Information Standard (IS)31 and Public Records Act 2002? Has the correct retention and disposal schedule been used to sentence records? How is the preservation of permanent and long-term temporary records assured?
- Introduce a regular disposal program – Establishing a structured and regular disposal programme will:
- make more efficient use of resources, reducing storage and maintenance costs
- ensure those records that need to be kept are kept for the correct period of time
- responding to Right to Information (RTI) requests, subpoenas, discovery orders etc. to reduce risk and assists with legislative compliance
- identify permanent records which can be transferred to QSA.
Do you have any other tips? Have you had any success in using any of these strategies to reduce your paper mountain? Have you had epic failures when trying to reduce a paper mountain?
In the future we will be bringing you some case studies about agencies that have already scaled a paper mountain. Do you have a case study that you want to share on how you have reduced your paper mountains? Do you have any other helpful tips that could help other agencies? Share your stories here.
Featured image: Records room-Executive Building, Brisbane July 1965, Digital image ID 21920
Last updated 10 February 2020