Monday, October 1, 2012

Records Management for Schools

The Typical Situation
Too often, School Districts waste money and fail at records management.  Many purchase a software or hardware solution from a copier company or reseller and think they have solved a problem. This approach is expensive, and usually ineffective.  Support staff is tasked with the ominous assignment of effectively classifying, scanning, and managing the data.   Since many records types need to be kept, a medium size District will need to scan hundreds of boxes of records.  All too often the project never gets off the ground, and the expensive up-front cost to purchase the software and hardware is wasted.
Other Districts do nothing.  Soon enough, records pile up and eventually become unmanageable.  Eventually the District or County Office runs out of space, fails to comply with a state mandate (often costing millions of dollars in a failed audit), or an employee is injured looking through vast amounts of disorganized boxes to find a single record.  Eventually, the cost of doing nothing becomes more expensive than effective records management.
The Best Approach
Identifying the best approach for records management requires focusing on three core elements:  1) Document Management: K-12 Records Retention Standards, 2) Affordable Technology, and 3) Scanning and Data Services.
1.) Document Management: K-12 Records Retention Standards
First, records need to be identified and classified as follows:
  • Class 1—Permanent Records
  • Class 2—Optional Records
  • Class 3—Disposable Records
 This is the foundation for developing a records management system and ensuring that all guidelines are satisfied.
 2.) Affordable Technology
Minimizing the cost of technology is essential, especially up-front costs.  Records management shouldn't require a huge initial investment.  Further, technology should utilize non-proprietary solutions that afford greater flexibility and reduce on-going maintenance costs.  
3.) Scanning and Data Services
With very few exceptions, outsourcing the backlog scanning is more cost-effective for schools.  This should be where limited budgets are focused.  A process for capturing on-going records also needs to be identified that maintains consistency with other electronic forms of data.        
For more information about how SyTech utilizes this approach for Schools Records Management, please visit our website.