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Review, monitor and report on recordkeeping

You should regularly review, monitor, and report on agency recordkeeping, including your records management systems, tools, and resources.

Agencies have different levels of recordkeeping maturity depending on their size, function, levels of risk, and resources.

Reviewing and monitoring your recordkeeping practices will help you determine your recordkeeping maturity levels and ensure your recordkeeping practices are appropriate for your agency.

The monitoring and reviewing process should be based on your agency’s recordkeeping requirements and specific circumstances.

1. Benefits of reviewing and monitoring

Regularly reviewing and monitoring recordkeeping practices will:

  • establish and enforce approved practices
  • guide resources to where they are needed most
  • help you meet your recordkeeping requirements and support your agency’s business needs
  • give you accurate information about how effective your recordkeeping systems are and what improvements can be made
  • allow you to regularly report to senior management about issues, challenges and achievements of the records management program
  • determine recordkeeping maturity levels in your agency and provide you with data to identify short and long-term trends
  • prevent corruption by ensuring accountability and integrity.

2. Reviewing

You should review recordkeeping regularly and consistently as part of your records management program.

Review methods

Assess recordkeeping based on your agency's needs. Methods include:

When should a review be done?

For most agencies, 2 to 3 years between assessments is reasonable.

If you have implemented changes, you need to allow a sufficient amount of time for them to take effect. Making changes may mean you need to increase the frequency of reviews.

Review checklist

This checklist will help you understand:

  • what makes a recordkeeping system
  • what parts of a recordkeeping system you already have in place
  • what parts of a recordkeeping system you could focus on.

Business

  • Does your agency use recordkeeping applications?
  • Do you know your agency’s recordkeeping requirements?
    This includes legislative and business needs.
  • What records are or need to be are created and kept?
  • Have there been any changes to functions or activities?

People

  • Is there a dedicated recordkeeping officer or team?
  • Is recordkeeping centralised or decentralised (everyone is responsible for recordkeeping)?
  • Are people trained in recordkeeping?
    This includes how to use recordkeeping technology as well as general recordkeeping awareness.
  • Are there any changes to roles and responsibilities required?

Technology

  • What applications are records currently held in?
    This might require some investigative work-these may not just be dedicated recordkeeping applications like RecFind. They can include applications that manage things like finance, human resources and case management.
  • Are employees using applications to manage records that they shouldn’t be?
    Includes things like individual drives on a network or USB sticks.
  • Are records held in applications that are no longer regularly used?

Policy

  • Do you have an approved and current recordkeeping policy?
    This may be a dedicated recordkeeping policy OR a broader agency-wide policy that also addresses recordkeeping.
  • Does your policy outline recordkeeping responsibilities for everyone in your agency?

Procedures

  • Do you have procedures or standards for managing specific types of records in your agency (like emails)?
  • Do you have recordkeeping guidelines?
    This includes manuals or work instructions on identifying and capturing records.
  • Do you have procedures to manage records disposal?
  • Are records included in your agency’s business continuity and disaster preparedness plans? Do you need to develop separate ones for records?

Tools

  • Do you have a current, approved retention and disposal schedule? If so, do you use this to dispose of records?
  • Do you have a Business Classification Scheme that accurately reflects the business functions of your agency?
  • Do you have business rules for the management of records?
  • Do you have a data entry standard and/or naming conventions for records?
  • Do you have an up-to-date vital records register?
  • Is metadata sufficient to control and preserve records?

3. Monitoring

We recommend that you continually monitor your recordkeeping functions.

Develop a plan for monitoring recordkeeping–you can base it on your strategic recordkeeping plan or use previous recordkeeping surveys (PDF, 378 KB) as a benchmark.

The recordkeeping assessment tool (XLS, 340 KB) can be used to track the progress and effect of changes.

When to monitor

The frequency and degree of monitoring is up to your agency. If you have identified weaknesses, you should monitor more closely.

You can incorporate monitoring into your existing recordkeeping program/plan. Some examples of where improvement activities could be included in the recordkeeping program are:

You can also incorporate monitoring recordkeeping into broader agency monitoring and evaluation programs.

Monitoring options

You can collect evidence to assess your recordkeeping performance by:

  • reviewing recordkeeping policies, plans and procedures–are they current and reflective of your present situation?
  • examining documentation from audits or reviews including the QSA recordkeeping survey–were gaps identified as a result of these reviews?
  • conducting file audits–can you locate records quickly? Are all staff capturing records into your systems? Are record titling conventions being followed?
  • analysing enquiries/helpdesk requests–can you identify common issues?

Feedback

You can use feedback to help your assessment and gauge staff awareness of recordkeeping through:

  • interviews–individual or workshop
  • internal surveys–ensure that you clearly define the purpose and only conduct them as often as is necessary
  • intranet site–if you have an internal forum or blog
  • training and awareness sessions–review participant comments.

Identify areas for improvement

Use the information from the assessment to plan improvements. When planning and prioritising improvements, consider:

  • your circumstances (e.g. size of agency, available resources)
  • which area is the highest risk
  • what improvements provide the most benefit
  • the area with the greatest business need.

Monitoring business and recordkeeping applications

If you use business and/or recordkeeping applications, you may need to monitor and report on their usage. Check that:

  • records are being created
  • records accurately reflect your business
  • records are accessible
  • users can locate records
  • employees are not using informal or ad-hoc applications to manage corporate information
  • technological functionality still meets the needs of your agency.

4. Reporting

While there are no mandatory reporting requirements, reporting on recordkeeping:

  • should be included in your reviewing and monitoring activities
  • will provide evidence to support changing recordkeeping practices
  • can be used to inform and gain support from senior management.

Reporting should be undertaken regularly (e.g. weekly, monthly, quarterly), but may also be in response to a request or to report on a particular issue.

Reporting should be based on your agency’s needs and can be used to detail your findings from your monitoring and reviewing activities.

Examples of useful regular reports are:

  • daily report on recordkeeping system and data quality checks
  • monthly management report on recordkeeping statistics that may detail activities such as:
    • disposal
    • document searches, transfers, registrations, retrievals
    • planned activities/follow-up actions
    • helpdesk enquiries.
  • monthly records management update to information steering committees
  • quarterly reports on projects/programs of work, for example:

See an example of recordkeeping statistics in a monthly report.

5. Key performance indicators

Include key performance indicators in your strategic recordkeeping plan. They can be used as key indicators to measure recordkeeping in your agency and verify how well your agency has realised the outcomes of each strategy in your plan.

KPIs should support the vision, objectives and strategies in your plan, and set targets for people and teams in your agency to aim towards.

Make sure you clearly define the indicators that will be used to measure your achievements against each strategy, not just what is being done.

Consider:

  • Effectiveness–how will you know if you have achieved the stated outcome? How will you know to what extent you were successful in achieving the outcome?
  • Efficiency/cost-benefits–How will you be able to demonstrate the strategy has resulted in increased efficiency?
  • Suitability–How will you measure the suitability of the strategy to the problem or objective that it sought to address? How will you know if the strategy met customer/stakeholder expectations?
  • Timeline–What time frames were placed around achieving the outcome? When will the implementation of the strategies begin? How long will the implementation take? When will it be complete? When will the plan be reviewed?

See an example of a how to align objectives, strategies and KPIs.

6. Annual reports

Section 15.5 of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet’s Annual report requirements for Queensland Government agencies provides guidelines about the types of information you should include in your annual report.

7. Recordkeeping surveys

Queensland State Archives recordkeeping survey of Queensland public authorities

Queensland State Archives have previously conducted recordkeeping surveys of Queensland Government agencies every 2 years since 2009.

Participating agencies included Queensland Government departments, local government authorities, statutory authorities, commissions, tertiary education bodies, and government-owned corporations.

These surveys aimed to assist agencies to continually improve in recordkeeping activities, and meet their recordkeeping requirements under the Public Records Act 2002 and information standards.

See the full 2014-15 Report on the recordkeeping survey of Queensland public authorities (PDF, 1.01 MB) or the survey summary (PDF, 390 KB), infographic (PDF, 378 KB), and blog post.

Agencies that participated in the most recent survey received an agency scorecard depicting their results.

Other surveys

QSA also conducts surveys on specific recordkeeping topics, for example, social media, digital archiving, and training programs.

Survey responses help us:

  • understand current recordkeeping challenges
  • identify trends
  • monitor changes over time
  • guide the development of future policy and advice.

Survey results can also help you assess levels of recordkeeping performance across business units and highlight areas that need attention.