In 2020, more than any other year, organizations around the globe entrusted human resources (HR) departments to guide them through times of uncertainty and change. As the driver of communication and organizational efficiency during the pandemic, a well-functioning HR department was the key to many organizations’ adaptability and success. As more of the world starts to become vaccinated and in-person activity begins to ramp-up, HR will be critically important in establishing a framework for communication and productivity.
HR’s heightened importance makes the department a source of leadership and truth when it comes to digital transformation. At its core, digital transformation is about helping people make more informed decisions and work more efficiently—two things that also define HR functions. What’s unique about the HR department is that when HR digital transformation is done right, the HR department is transformed and the HR team is positioned to guide the rest of the organization through the process. When HR takes a predominant role in digital transformation, the result is automated processes that reduce time spent on repetitive tasks, maximization of the employee experience, and found time that can be used for the purpose of benefiting the bottom line.
Many companies have catalyzed their digital transformation in the past year. According to a survey by the Human Resource Executive, 87% of organizations say that the most important thing around ongoing digital transformation is making things easier and more streamlined for their workforce. That’s why a key part of digital transformation for HR departments is electronic records management.
“87% of organizations say that the most important thing around ongoing digital transformation is making things easier and more streamlined for their workforce.”
What is Electronic Records Management?
Electronic records management, or electronic document management, is the action of filing, retaining, and destroying company records, including the processes for capturing and maintaining business activities and transactions. Due to the immensity of documents that HR processes before the hiring process is even completed, a reliable system for electronic records management is key to staying organized, allowing for scalability, and establishing a single source of truth. Electronic records management can help with the management of a number of sensitive documents including:
- Resumes and Applications
- Payroll and Benefit Selection Documents
- Onboarding and Background Checks
- Performance Management Documents
- Training Records
- Retirement and Termination Documents
Although an electronic records management system can benefit an HR department in many ways, a strategy needs to be developed in order to make sure records are stored and maintained properly. With the right steps in place, the result will be a more effective and efficient environment.
Step One: Identify Existing Problems
Before you implement an electronic records management system, it’s important to have full visibility and perspective into your organization’s problems, pain points, and inefficiencies. You want your solution to be tailored to your organization’s unique needs so understanding where your current systems and processes are failing is critical. Some common issues include:
As soon as your employee headcount reaches 15, federal guidelines dictate which documents you must retain and for how long. HR departments face critical compliance risks associated with the right to share personnel documents, incomplete documents, and more.
Poor records management has a ripple effect and can affect other aspects of the business like payroll, benefits, and more. If it takes a significant amount of time to track down a specific document because it’s paper-based or stored incorrectly, this can create stagnation across the business.
With many teams working from home, the ability to access records and documents remotely is essential. Specific attention needs to be paid to compliance and security. Specifically, your records management system should be diligent about roles and permissions.
Other issues could be storage problems, a lack of automation, insufficient back up records and preparedness, and more.
Step Two: Set Measurable and Attainable Goals
Once you’ve identified your problems, it’s time to set goals for alleviating them. Measurable and attainable goals will keep you and your team on track when adapting new technology, establishing policies, and more. Because records management directly and indirectly affects the entire organization, changes without objectives can expose an organization to unnecessary risk. While your goals can be built around high-level objectives, they should also incorporate measurable and attainable metrics. Goals will vary depending on your organization but here are some examples of measurable goals tied to high-level objectives:
Establish a Compliant System for Records Management
- Within 6 months, develop a process and implement self-reporting management policies to mitigate risk when violations occur
- With one year, implement a program to educate employees and establish a culture of compliance
Ensure Documents are Properly Stored or Disposed Of
- Categorize 80% of records within 3 months as either storage or destruction (Records Retention Schedule). Image API’s cloud-based record management system uses Axiom Pro to help strengthen compliance and easily manage record retention schedules.
- Train a team to routinely ensure that unnecessary copies of records are dealt with appropriately
Allow for Remote Collaboration
- Schedule a series of meetings to discuss the current state of your department’s digital storage options
- Create specific access and permission requirements across the organization
Step Three: Plan the Inventory
You will begin to inventory records by compiling a descriptive list of each record series or system, including the location of the records and any other pertinent data. The inventory is not simply a list of documents or folders but a scalable system that properly categorizes documents according to regulatory laws. When you conduct an inventory, you will locate, identify, describe, count, and measure all records in your office and storage areas—this includes digital and paper-based records.
A designated records officer should work with department heads to schedule inventorying for each faction of the business. A good way to get an idea of the differences in record keeping across the organization is to distribute a survey. The records officer should also train the other members of the inventory team as needed, always reminding the team of objectives. Make sure that there is a time to address both record and non record material. Remember that when implemented correctly, a cloud-based document management system will help expedite the training processes, cut costs, and maximize security and compliance.
Step Four: Conduct the Inventory & Define Proper Processes
Once you’ve developed a solid plan, you’ll be able to conduct a methodical and strategic inventory process. Inventory your records as series—groups of identical and related records can be inventoried as a unit or disposed of together. Start with active records, or immediately available paper-based records, and move toward less-used or organized areas.
No matter where you inventory, you should be systematic. Begin at a specific location in a room, and proceed logically, making sure to flag those records that are permanent or contain sensitive business information. Spotlighting your valuable records will decrease your chance of overlooking or duplicating information, especially if you frequently stop and restart. Making the switch from paper-based records to digital records can be time-consuming but once done, with the right digital system, you’ll be able to find a specific record with a couple clicks.
Step Five: Disperse Thoughtful and Informative Training
After the HR department has adjusted to processes being digitized, you will need to create a plan to train your workforce. First, engage with the workforce as a whole and explain why the digitization happened and what benefits it will provide employees. Make sure to emphasize the importance of the training and processes; reiterate that learning how to appropriately organize, store, and manage company records and information is key to the company’s health, efficiency, and productivity.
Build a system for training that operates at a very high level and explains records management as a set of company-wide principles rather than a simple process for documents. Training should be digestible, use real-world examples, and contain deadlines that hold employees accountable. Lastly, make sure employees are engaged in training by including interactive assignments, quizzes, or tasks.
Signing Off on Your Electronic Records Management Plan
The digitization of records and documents is a no-brainer for any HR department. From compliance to scalability, there are plenty of reasons why electronic records management benefits growing organizations. However, the process of creating a safe, secure, and compliant environment for records needs to be methodical and strategic. Transforming your systems from paper-based to digital is more than just scanning documents.
To learn more about HR’s opportunity to help their organization build a digital-first culture beyond electronic records, check out our ePaper, How to Transform HR into a Digital Leader for Your Organization.