Preparing: Records Management

April 27, 2011  //  

Preparing: Records Management

Preservation and protection of vital records in an emergency is essential for a rapid return to normal operations. Destruction, disruption or loss of records, even if only temporary, can significantly delay recovery operations.

Vital records might include:

  • Financial and insurance information.

  • Engineering plans and drawings.

  • Product lists and specifications.

  • Employee, customer and supplier databases.

  • Formulas and trade secrets.

  • Personnel files.

When analyzing vital records, you might need to do the following:

  • Classify the records into functional categories (finance, sales, production, administration, etc.).

  • Determine which functions are essential to keep the business up and running.

  • Identify the minimum information that must be readily accessible to perform essential functions (ex. maintaining customer collections might require access to account statements).

  • Identify the records that contain the essential information and where they are located.

  • Identify the equipment and materials needed to access and use the information.

To ensure that essential records are properly safeguarded, take the following steps:

  • Label these records with identifiable markings. Priority of evacuation should be noted on record containers.

  • Create an inventory or locator map that will allow you quick access to these records when needed. Regularly update your finding aids and keep copies off-site.

  • Store records in an area that is least vulnerable to fire, water damage, flood, chemical damage, vandalism and harsh weather.

  • Choose an alternate records storage location for original or vital data based on your hazards analysis. Ideally, this location should be offsite and located far enough away that it will not likely be damaged by an event affecting your facility. Limit unauthorized access to this area. Consider scanning records that receive high use and storing the originals here.

  • Store records at least six inches off the ground and store tapes and disks in insulated containers.

  • Make arrangements to transport records to alternate locations if needed.

  • Determine how you will have access to emergency funds (ex. a supply of purchase orders to be used only during an emergency or a disaster emergency fund).

  • Train staff in recovery techniques.

  • Keep duplicates of your disaster plan, policies, lists and record inventories off-site.

NOTE: Do not wait until the last minute to move critical business records or equipment. You might have difficulty traveling out of the area, especially if an evacuation order has been issued.

Be ready. Be willing to help.

Virginia Disaster Relief Fund