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Project Records Management Tutorial | Quickstart -MUST READ

Last updated on 24th Aug 2022, Blog, Tutorials

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Manjeet Kaur (Project Planning Manager )

Manjeet Kaur is a certified professional with 7+ years of experience in their respective domains. She has expertise in Critical Path, Critical Chain, Pure Resources Leveling, and PMBOK.

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Project Records:

Managing records on a project is a necessary activity that makes it possible to handle and use project documentation in the way that ensures smooth capturing of documents and papers by seniors, team members, and the other stakeholders.Being a part of overall document management, records management permits a project manager to direct and control document flows throughout the project lifecycle, while ensuring that each single document or record serves the operational needs and helps teams capture and retrieve the necessary information.It generates a framework for running project activities and procedures and paves the way for analysis, lessons learned, historical reviews, etc.I can’t imagine a project having no means of managing records and documentation.I regard project records management as a consistent and continuous process that contains a range of steps and procedures to generate, use and store different types and kinds of project records, files, documents, papers, sheets etc.

Definition:

Managing project records is an important responsibility for project managers who must ensure that each document or file is properly designed, formatted, communicated, secured, stored, and archived.The manager is responsible for maintaining accurate and up-to-date records.If you take a step back and look at the big picture, records management is more like a process than a duty.Therefore, in my opinion, it is a process with well-defined beginnings, middles, and ends.

Project Records Management:

It is a process of creating, directing and controlling document flows within a project, through using an administrative system, to offer an effective development, versioning, filing, storing and retrieving of the records, while ensuring that each record designed is utilized administratively and legally.The process generates a framework for managing the project activities and delivering necessary data to teams.As a process, project records management is characterized by the below items:

  • Inputs may any essential data to be recorded and saved for the project.
  • Materials, infrastructure, applications, communication instruments, human resources, etc.
  • Rules, document standards, filing protocols, etc., for managing and filing documents.
  • Document streams, files, catalogs, record sheets, etc. are examples of outputs.

When starting managing the project, must be sure that there’s a framework for documenting and filing events occurring within the project (the inputs).By using systems and software (the resource), the teams can record activities and events and generate documents.They follow prescribed procedures for event recording and documenting (the rules).Finally running the process permit to develop necessary documentation, files and records (the outputs).In this regard, project records management seems to be cyclical – when records are generated, treated, filed and documented.The process of managing project files and records is important because of the below aspects:

  • Supporting ease and efficiency of a project activities.
  • Allowing teams can find require data when they need.
  • Protecting the project information from unauthorized access and use.
  • Saving the time and effort.
  • Reducing costs, also space costs.
  • Maintaining files up-to-date and versioned.

Three Steps:

Step #1: Create Project Files

When creating a project file, must be sure that it is in accordance with the standards and needs of file management within an organization.For example, in an organization we have a file management policy stating how to generate a project file, what system and tools to use, what file formats and extensions are preferred, who can create files, how files can be updated, etc.There Are 5 common requirements to project file creation:

Prompt: A file is to be created as early and fastly as possible.

Simple: File content should have a structure that is as simple as possible.

Separate: Each file is a single and separate record; two or more files cannot be combined; if there’s a need to combine the content of several files, a new file should be generated.

Up-to-date: When a project file is updated, a versioning number as well as the date revised should be added to a file header.

Confidential: A file should be maintained with complete secure; only authorized personnel can access the file and also content.

In any project and programme these 5 requirements should be treated with great care because otherwise the project/programme is likely to fail with generating reliable, comprehensive, complete and relevant project files.

Step #2: File Project Documents

Once created a file according to the file management policy and needs, now can proceed with filing project documents.It means you must put all the documents and white-papers into the respective files.Below I list the key documents and data should add to the project files:

  • Correspondence from the government, containing letters, documents, and photographs
  • Papers if project meetings
  • Project request, proposal, brief.
  • Stakeholder contact details
  • Change and variance requests
  • Project diary
  • Issue logs/risk logs/decisions made
  • Status reports and summaries
  • Procurement papers
  • Team guidelines, instructions, notes, etc.
  • Handover/closure documents
Project Records Management

Sure that each piece of this data is put into a file.There should be version control to ensure that the project files are updated and modified properly.The following details are needed: revision number, revision date, author, editor, link to an electronic copy (if any).

Step #3: Archive and Destroy Project Records

Once all project documents and relevant data have been filed, the next step is to maintain the records and move them to archive .Archiving project records means making the documents no longer available within the given environment ,ensuring that the records are retrievable for further projects and lessons learned.When the project is over, I need to destroy the records, instead of archiving them.Anyway, must refer to the archiving and destruction procedures of an organization when treating the project records.Organizations prefer archiving documentation rather than destroying.

Not to practice record destroying because , believe that any piece of documented and field data may be required in the future.Companies may have another opinion regarding this.Maintain all files forever because this seems to be more expensive.Give a file for the longest life possible and wait until the life is over; then just destroy the file. Below give our record retention requirements will be useful:

  • Contract documents and advice records: save this type of project records for at least five years after the contracts are fulfilled.
  • General project records: these are maintained in accordance with the function that they support.
  • Research data records: from five to seven years, depending upon the nature of the research.
  • Legal issues and case records: a minimum of seven years.
  • Finance records are maintained for 5 years long.
  • Other types of project records are archived for the period of 5-7 years.

Benefits of a Records Management System:

1. Constrain the Creation and Expansion of Records:

Even though , increasingly becoming reliant on electronic files, the amount of paper used in offices has not significantly deduced.If a record management system is adopted, an organization can control the generation of records or copies and retain only those records that are actually needed or are active.This controls the growth of records and thus reduces the storage space required.

2. Effectively Retrieve and Dispose Records:

The consequences of spending too much time searching for missing files records can be severe; may not only lose in terms of billable hours but also lose valuable customers.This is why it is important to invest in a well-designed filing system that can facilitate retrieving records and disposing of records past their end-of-life date.

3. Assimilate New Records Management Technologies:

Investing in record management software can proved to be helpful if a company has physical record management system in place. The new record management technology can be assimilated with existing records systems to make the system stronger.

4. Regulatory Compliance:

With the government becoming stricter about compliance problems, it is necessary for companies to apply a good record management system and ensure they are in full compliance with laws and regulations.If any company fails to offer essential records during litigation or regulatory check, it may have to pay severe penalties or face legal consequences.The only way to provide regulatory compliance is through advanced record management technology and a firm policy for records management and retention.

Records Management

5. Minimize Litigation Risks:

Implementing a record management system can decrease the risk associated with litigation and potential penalties. A well-planned and thoughtfully applied record management program can decrease the liabilities associated with the document disposal.

6. Safeguard Important Information:

Each company, public or private, require a systematic program for protecting its important records and information from disaster or theft.Record management system preserves the integrity and confidentiality of important records and safeguards it as per set procedures.This disallows unauthorized users from tampering with the sensitive and important records.

7. Cut Costs, Save Time & Efforts:

Handling Records takes up a lot of time and money in terms of storage space, printing, filing and staffing to keep an organized record system.It also takes a lot of time and money to search or reproduce lost records in the absence of an organized system.Records management system can help to save considerable expenses by reducing operating costs and increasing efficiency of employees.

8. Better Management Decision Making:

Making relevant data simply accessible allows companies to make decisions faster so that they can stay ahead of the competition or make an informed decision.Records management software makes useful data accessible and disposes off unwanted data, so that relevant information can be accessed faster.Indexing and retrieval capability permit managers and authorized executives to find files faster.

9. Preserve Company Knowledge:

A company’s files are its knowledge base, which forms an integral part of the future planning and decision-making.Every single record generated in a business day is a potential background data for future management decisions and planning.These records document the activities of the company, which managers may use in future to research the workings of the company.

10. Keep Employees Motivated:

Poorly managed records, an unorganized filing system, and frequent loss of important documents generate a poor working environment, which has a direct effect on employees’ motivation level.Though I cannot put a quantifiable figure on the loss of motivation due to these circumstances, it is one of the most important reasons to establish a good record management system.

Functions and uses of records:

A record contains data that is made, produced, executed, or received in connection with transactional office activities, and supports an organization in conducting its business.Records are hard for evidence of an agency’s unique policies, procedures, and decisions, and often hold significant administrative, historical, and legal value.

Why is records management important?

  • The importance of records management lies in how it oversees data that’s been generated, received, maintained, and disposed of (regardless of the document’s format).
  • In other words, records management is important because it ensures that vital records are preserved and it supervises records throughout the lifecycle, including compliance with the set retention procedures.
  • Ultimately, leveraging records management is the best way to guarantee records with historical, fiscal, and legal force are accurately identified and preserved, and that non-essential records are discarded as often as is needed by established guidelines.

Conclusion:

A record is a document or an electronic storage of data in an organization which acts as evidence or a rule.A project record management is a systematic process, which permits people to retain records for future use.It outlines the details which are relevant to a project.Hence, project record management is required to be monitored and retained in a careful manner.

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