According to ARMA international, a record is any recorded information, regardless of medium or characteristics, made or received by an organization that is evidence of its operations, and has value requiring its retention for a specific period of time.
Records are a fundamental component of most data structures. They include all papers, books, photographs, maps, machine-readable materials and other documentary materials.
Life cycle of a record
Records have life similar to that of a biological creature. It is born; it lives and dies as well. The life cycle of a record usually begins upon creation or receipt of the records and usually ends upon disposal of all records.
The life cycle of records is an important concept of records management. This is because it is considered as the starting point for creating a records management program. It is a helpful way to look at record’s progressive stages.
Listed below are the 5 stages in the life cycle of a record:
1. Creation stage
As mentioned above, records begin the life cycle when they are received or created.
2. Distribution and use stage
At this stage, records are needed frequently. That being said, they should be available when needed and accessible to all members of the staff.
3. Storage and maintenance stage
Recorded information is stored in a secured environment. The storage of records should follow the standards relating to the security, environment and physical organization of the files.
4. Retention Stage
Recorded information is usually retained for as long it is needed. These records may not be needed on a regular basis but should be kept for reference, financial and legal reasons.
5. Disposition Stage
This stage usually takes place when the records have no more value to an organization. It involves physical destruction of the records. Disposal of records should also be fully documented.