Section 1 - Introduction and how to use the UN recordkeeping Toolkit by howardtheduck

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									Section 19 - Reviewing Recordkeeping Systems
Contents
Main Things to Remember about Reviewing Recordkeeping Systems Introduction When to Review the Recordkeeping System How to Review the Recordkeeping System Records Inventories Documenting Your Review Changing the Recordkeeping System as a Result of Review Findings Other Relevant Toolkit Sections Documents

The Main Things to Remember about Reviewing Recordkeeping Systems
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As your organisation changes over time its functions and the records that support them can change too. Your recordkeeping system has to be regularly reviewed in response. The review should be carried out by the mission records management officer in collaboration with the managers of business units. Reviewing your recordkeeping system ensures that: it covers the whole of your organisation; it is fit for purpose; and it meets your needs, those of your colleagues, and those of ARMS. For a review to be worthwhile, act on the findings to strengthen weaker areas.

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Introduction
This section of the Toolkit explores how to review your recordkeeping system. There are two very good reasons for doing so: Organisations are constantly changing. Recordkeeping Toolkit for Peacekeeping Operations
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They take on new functions and responsibilities, stop work on others, change who does what, and carry out major and minor reviews and reorganisations. Over time this has an impact on recordkeeping since there is a close relationship between records and the functions and activities they support. If the records change we need to be sure that the recordkeeping system in place is still the right one. Recordkeeping should help, not hinder. Regularly reviewing your system helps ensure it is efficient, meets its goals and is fit for purpose. Preparation for audits by OIOS and other units. The term „review‟ is used to describe an internal review by the creating office or department. The term „audit‟ describes a review by ARMS, another Secretariat or oversight office or any other external agency and is not covered in this Toolkit.

When to Review the Recordkeeping System
If your recordkeeping system is new you are probably making small changes as you implement it and train staff. It is good practice to formally review things within six months to a year to make sure the system – including all small changes – is meeting everyone‟s needs. Your first review should be very thorough. Your aim is to ensure that the recordkeeping system you have set up:
     is creating and maintaining the records that you and the team and/or department need to support your work; provides your team and the UN generally with accountability and transparency; protects sensitive and vital records; has simple and straightforward procedures which all the team can and will follow; makes provision for the documented disposal of records when they are no longer required.

If your recordkeeping system has been in place for a while, you should be reviewing it every couple of years. It is sometimes easier to review a different part of the system each year so that it becomes a regular part of your office‟s workload or when significant change is foreseen, for example, planning for ECM implementation.

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How to Review the Recordkeeping System
ARMS has developed a Records Management Programme Evaluation Tool which you can use as a basis for reviewing your recordkeeping system. For a comprehensive review you can use the whole Evaluation Tool, or to focus on specific areas you can select the relevant sections. The guide consists of a series of “yes” or “no” questions. Answering “yes” indicates compliance with ARMS records management recommended practices. Where you answer “no” you should make a note of the reasons why. Remember some “no” answers will be because the question is not relevant (e.g. because you do not have audiovisual records) although there may be other reasons and looking back at your notes and acting on them will help you improve your system. It is also a good idea to talk to your colleagues on how well they think the recordkeeping system works. As the end-users who create and use the records they may have useful insights into the recordkeeping system.

Records Inventories
A records inventory is a list of all the different records series that your team or department create and use. The Records Management Programme Evaluation Tool requires records schedules to be based on inventories and for those inventories to be updated regularly because the recordkeeping system must reflect the records which are being created. Creating an inventory of your current paper filing system can be done relatively easily without involving your colleagues. For inventories of electronic and special records you may need to find out from others where all these records are to be able to add them to the list. Whether paper, electronic or special, for each record
series you need to collect the following information:           Unique ID (e.g. record series number, or a running number you assign as part of the inventory) Title Extent/quantity (e.g. number of boxes, linear meterage etc.) Medium/format (e.g. paper, electronic etc.) Covering dates (i.e. earliest and latest dates of the records in the series) Subject to a retention schedule? Any notes or recommendations about disposal Any notes or recommendations about filing Record copy (i.e. your office is the „office of record‟) or duplicate? Related records

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Recording this information in a form or spreadsheet will help you compare against existing file plans and disposal schedules to identify discrepancies, gaps, new series etc. UN ARMS has prepared records inventories forms in Microsoft Word and Excel which you can use.

Documenting Your Review
Documenting the review provides evidence of what you have done, what you have found, and when looking back at it for future reviews can show what you have done to improve any weaker areas. It is important to fill out and keep together the Evaluation Tool and the inventory forms along with any other documentation that is relevant to your review. Where no changes are required this documentation provides evidence for good practice.

Changing the Recordkeeping System as a Result of Review Findings
Once you have carried out your review and any related inventories, it is time to see what, if anything, could be improved. Remember it may not be possible to fix everything at once! However the review process and findings will provide invaluable data to support a business for the areas where improvement or developments are needed. Some things you will be able to change yourself but others may require the help and support of your colleagues or assistance from ARMS. This Toolkit provides most of the guidance and procedures you are likely to need when making changes to your recordkeeping system. Use your review documentation as a basis for a checklist of things to do, and then develop a work plan setting out when you are going to do them and in what order.

Other Relevant Toolkit Sections
All sections of the Toolkit are relevant.

Documents
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Records Management Programme Evaluation Tool (ARMS)

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