7 signs of poor records management practices

Poor records management practices negatively affect many areas of company performance.  And if you don’t take steps to fix them, then you can increase your risk of operational failures. Here are seven signs that your documentation approach needs improvement.

Inaccurate or incomplete information

The most obvious sign of poor records management is that the information is inaccurate and/or incomplete. Whether that’s incorrect dates and figures or missing details and attachments, a lack of quality documentation should be a major red flag.

Audits may help you uncover these issues, but using a digital records system is the easiest way to do it. Many platforms have required fields which eliminate the possibility of missing information and allow you to oversee the quality of your records. Not only is data accuracy essential for internal recordkeeping, but it’s also necessary for regulatory compliance.

Compliance failures

Much of compliance is having proper documentation of all the requirements. Failing a compliance audit, either internally or externally, may be a sign of poor records management practices.

Insufficient documentation can affect compliance by:

  • Making it harder to find critical compliance information when you need it
  • Providing inconsistent accounts of compliance efforts
  • Creating gaps in your company’s records of things like training, inspections, etc.
  • Causing issues when you need to provide evidence of compliance

Aside from these issues, poor recordkeeping also makes it harder to identify trends and patterns that you could otherwise use to improve compliance across the board.

Limited visibility and oversight

Without proper documentation, it’s hard to gain full visibility over your company’s performance. That’s because you need data to make the right decisions for the business. Limited visibility can make it more difficult to:

  • Hold workers accountable to their workloads
  • Conduct inspections and audits
  • Identify the source of performance issues
  • Ensure completion of critical tasks and projects
  • Oversee employee training
  • Pursue continuous improvement of site processes and policies

You need great recordkeeping habits to do all these things and to achieve higher levels of overall performance as a company.

Lack of standardization

A common problem with many records management practices is a lack of document standardization. When you don’t have rules for what information to include, records become difficult to understand.

For example, if you don’t have rules for how to name documents, how will you find what you’re looking for? Standardization ensures that everyone can easily access and analyze the information they need.

Lack of standardization may be the result of an outdated manual approach, or it could simply be because you haven’t taken the time to create documentation guidelines.

Of course, there’s also the possibility that your employees don’t follow the guidelines you do have. It’s important to understand why there’s no standardization so you can properly address it. Once you do, you should see an instant improvement in the quality of your company’s records.

Insufficient data protection

The purpose of creating records is so you can reference them if needed. So, having sufficient data protection in place is a key component of records management. If you don’t have a backup system in place to prevent data losses, you need one.

Putting security measures in place does more than prevent your records from going missing. It also reduces the risk of data breaches and stolen information. And when your records include sensitive information about your company’s processes, employees, trade secrets, etc., the stakes are even higher.

Difficult access to records

A hallmark of good records management is that employees can easily access the information they need. If your records are disorganized and hard to locate, then that’s a sign that you should change your filing system.

The best way to improve access is to switch to a digital data management system. With software, you can centralize your records so they’re easier to sort and filter. Plus, many digital tools have search functions which makes finding specific documents simpler.

Collaboration issues

The last sign of poor records management practices is team collaboration issues. For example, does your team struggle to…

  • Create updated versions of existing records?
  • Share new records?
  • Notify each other of documentation issues?
  • Collaborate on changes to records?

All these examples are signs that your team might benefit from a new strategy. The key to recognizing these issues is asking for employee feedback. Don’t wait until you notice problems on your own. Instead, take a proactive approach and see if anyone has ideas for a better way to work. More often than not, you’ll come up with some new strategies you can try to create, update, and manage records more efficiently as a company.