Records Management Practices: Overview
Over the years, records management practices have proven effective in most situations (Duffy, 2000). However, many organizations look into records as secondary compared to organizational core operations. It is difficult to change business practices when they have served well for many years. But for records management and knowledge management, business practices have an added dimension to their purpose (Duffy, 2000). The continued requirement to balance good records management practices for capturing organizational memory and the practices of knowledge management appears to be contradictory at first glance, but it is important for information managers and knowledge managers to collaborate in developing business practices that support both.
In an organizational context, there are enormous amount of tacit and explicit knowledge that can be gathered from a variety of sources internal and external to the organization. Figure 1 depicts the framework of sources for tacit and explicit knowledge that can be tapped by organizations. The following are the sources and their descriptions:
- Best Practices
- Corporate Memory
- Corporate Data Warehouses and Databases
- Communities of Practice
- Current Operations
- Innovation and Generation of New Knowledge
- Outside Information
Figure 1: Tacit and explicit knowledge that can be tapped by organizations.
3.0 Corporate memory
Overlooking their importance and unique role in the electronic age, the electronic revolution being experienced by all organizations, offers the opportunity to re-design business processes and methods. It provides a vision of easy access to all information across all the systems in our organization and available from the wider world. But in seeking comprehensive corporate knowledge, we must also guard against the possibility of losing our corporate memory, that is, the trail of evidence of action that is provided by records.
All organizations, whether private or public, and individuals in their working and personal lives, need records to document their activities. Records provide evidence of business activities. Without records, people and organizations cannot prove that actions have been taken, commitments entered into or obligations carried out. But records have a broader purpose than the immediate objective of getting business done: organizations exist within regulatory frameworks which impose various degrees of accountability for their activities. Accountability to shareholders, ministers or the public are all documented through records.
4.0 Organizational Learning as Organizational Memory Development
He learned that organizations remember lessons from the past in a variety of ways. An organization's memory resides in the minds of its employees and in the relationships that employees tap on an ongoing basis to accomplish work. Memory is also stored in repositories such as computer databases and file cabinets. Memory can also be embedded in work processes and in product or service offerings that have evolved over time and reflect lessons learned from an organization's past experiences. In today's knowledge-based economy, managers can improve performance by deliberately developing organizational memory and using the growing stores of knowledge to guide organizational activities and decision making.