Auditing your records management process ensures that your business meets legal and regulatory requirements. The process also provides a window into the effectiveness of your operations. The ultimate goal of the audit varies, but it typically focuses on ensuring that your business follows the procedures for records management as defined by your operational controls and the regulatory requirements of your industry.
When an audit begins, you decide how much and what is being audited. In simple form, this means either an audit of all of your record management procedures or a sample. Auditing all of your procedures may be extremely time consuming; however, in some cases, especially if there's a question of liability, it may be the only practical approach to the audit.
If you're simply confirming compliance or conducting an internal check, the audit focuses on a sample of procedures. This type of audit is typically more swift.
The listing provides us with a sense of the volume and type of records your business manages. We also review how your business determines what's worth keeping and how it communicates this information and process to staff.
Beninda then reviews how your records age; that is, if you archive records or destroy them. In either case, we evaluate the policies that determine which records your business keeps, for how long and how records are destroyed. If you store records, we look at the storage, either in a database, warehouse or secure facility.
If you destroy records, we review the procedures for destroying them, including how your business ensures the security of the records during the destruction process. In addition, we walk through the process of creating a record to evaluate reliability.
A records audit reviews how your business controls who retrieves, changes and owns the record. For records that must be kept private for both legal and practical considerations, Beninda reviews whether your procedures define using encryption when storing the records.
In addition, we review whether and what type of encryption your business management procedures call for when transmitting the record using email or the Internet.
If the process is working as defined, your business doesn't need to take any further action -- your staff and policies are achieving the objective set by the process.
However, the table may list other information, such as whether the process works partially and if you need to take any required action. This may occur, for example, if your staff correctly follows a procedure to manage records but the procedure places the security of the record at risk. It may also occur if your staff follows part of the procedure to manage the record but doesn't do so exactly as the procedure states.
The table also provides a date for follow-up. Your management team then reviews the report and makes any required changes. Beninda then returns to review whether issues surfaced by the audit are addressed.
Benefits of Doing an Audit
- Save space. Audits may reveal that you’re preserving data you no longer need. Destroying unneeded records frees you to save on storage costs.
- Increase efficiency. When employees can access records more quickly, they can work more efficiently. Consider not just which records are stored but also how you’re storing them.
- Boost security. Companies may discover lax security during an audit, possibly preventing data breaches in the future. Be sure you’re limiting access to sensitive information to authorized personnel only.
- Satisfy your customers. When your employees can access data more quickly, your customers are almost always better served. Look for ways to speed up retrieval and spur staff productivity.