What are university records and why is it important for us to manage them?
As a university, Ohio State manages and disseminates data, information and knowledge. One could argue our most valuable asset is the information we possess and impart. To utilize it most effectively, we need to manage it appropriately.
The Ohio Revised Code defines a record as “…any document, device or item, regardless of physical form or characteristic, created or received by…any public office of the state…which serves to document the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations or other activities of the office.”
University records that we come in contact with on a daily basis may include correspondence, purchase orders, invoices, human resources documentation and student records, and they should be managed in accordance with the University’s Records Management Policy (go.osu.edu/records-policy).
By appropriately managing these records, we are able to document our administrative, operating and fiscal decisions and the history of the university. A good records management program leads to business process efficiencies, allowing us to do our jobs more effectively. Further, a good records management program allows for better litigation support by maintaining and providing access to the records we are required to maintain, as well as providing evidence that records have been disposed of in an appropriate manner.
Yes, disposed of in an appropriate manner. Every record has a life cycle that can be anywhere from transient to permanent (5-10 percent of the records we create or receive need to be maintained permanently). You can refer to the OSU General Records Retention Schedule (go.osu.edu/retention-schedules) and/or your unit’s unique retention schedule to identify how long you need to keep records.
It does not matter if the record is of paper origin or electronic, however it should be appropriately filed in a file cabinet, inbox sub-folder, or in a hard drive or shared drive folder and managed according to its retention period.
What is a good way to file my electronic records?
There are many different ways to file your university records to manage them efficiently. There is not one single best way; it really depends upon how you and your department/unit interact with the records. It is important that you file them in a manner that best supports your ability to retrieve the records when necessary and to dispose of them when appropriate.
However, there are several bad ways of doing it: Keeping everything and never disposing of records; keeping everything in a single folder; or maintaining all of your email in the Inbox, Sent box or Trash.
It may actually be easier right now for us to manage our email records as OSU moves closer to a centralized email system based on Outlook Exchange. Not only can you file emails into folders, but you can apply multiple category tags that allow for compound ways of classifying records as described above. Until such time as we are able to develop and implement a robust electronic document/records management system to achieve comparable results for other records such as documents, spreadsheets, images and databases, you can utilize nested folders on your hard drive or shared drives. One caveat—do not store university records in BuckeyeBox, as its purpose is for collaboration, not the management and storage of official university records.
For more information on managing your records — paper or electronic — attend one of our quarterly offerings of Paper & Bytes (go.osu.edu/records).