- Recordkeeping tip #1 - Where to store records
- Recordkeeping tip #2 - Keep your records secure
- Recordkeeping tip #3 - How to share records
- Recordkeeping tip #4 - How to name records
- Other helpful advice
Recordkeeping tip #1
Store records in a location where they can be found and used for authorised purposes
Even though most of us are working from home, that doesn't mean we should abandon our recordkeeping best practice approach. In fact while working at home we should become more vigilant about our recordkeeping activities.
When you are working on a document, please remember to store it in a location where it can be found later, not just by you, but your colleagues, managers or even future staff.
Via the VPN you can access the S:drive or use the collaborative cloud storage provided by Google Drive (My Drive and Share Drive).
Please refrain from saving documents on USB or external hard drives, unless it is absolutely necessary. If you need to use external storage options, please make sure you transfer the contents of those drives back to your designated network or cloud storage as soon as reasonably practicable.
This way when you return to working in the office, you will know where all of your files are, and you won't lose any time searching for them.
Recordkeeping tip #2
Keep your records/files secure and confidential
While working at home it is easy to relax a little bit on the processes we normally follow in the office - like locking our computer when we leave our desk.
Even though it's unlikely any member of your household would have any interest in what's on your work computer, that does not mean the files (and your work) are not at risk.
What about little Miss 2 who decides she wants to watch Bluey on your computer while you are at lunch, or even Mr Biggles the cat who decides your laptop is warm and a great place to have a nap.
It would not be hard for a document you have been working on to be accidently deleted, or for that unsent (yet to be proofread email) to be sent for you.
It is always good practice to save your work to an approved storage location, and lock the computer. This way the actions of little Miss 2 and Mr Biggles won't result in an awkward chat with your manager.
Recordkeeping tip #3
Only share records using appropriate and approved communication channels
We all use email as a source of communication, and it is an approved channel of communication, but is it always the most appropriate channel of communication when you need to share sensitive information?
While email is handy, and is easy to use for sharing information, and it is secure, it is not infallible. We do need to be mindful about what we share via email.
If your information is sensitive, commercial in confidence or contains the personal details of students, staff, collaborative partners or clients; maybe email is not the best option, even though it is an approved communication channel.
Ask yourself, if this email was to go astray (thanks to little Miss 2 or Mr Biggles) would that be bad? If you answer yes, then maybe look for another approved communication channel to use; like Google Drive (My Drive or Share Drive), so instead of sending a copy of the document, you can send a link to the document.
It doesn't take much to assess the risks of using email as the most appropriate and best option. However, it may take a long time to undo anything that has gone wrong, if an inappropriate communication channel has been used to share sensitive information.
This is also good practice for managing version control too. See Recordkeeping tip #4 for more information.
Recordkeeping tip #4
Using a naming convention structure, version control and good file structure for documents from the start will save you later
We are all used to working with file structures within either shared network drives or shared cloud storage.
However, how good is that file structure, and how well do you and your colleagues stick to it? How often do you lose time searching for the most current version of the document you are working on? How often do you lose time searching for a document because in a hurry you saved it is Doc 1?
Does your shared storage drive look like Grandma's sewing box - an eclectic mix of cottons, bobbins, buttons and needles, which appear to have no organisational structure to it?
Don't feel bad. It's not uncommon for us to experience these issues. But there is a better way!
Next time you need to start a new shared folder directory, why not think about the future? If you start using a clean file structure, a structured way of naming documents and version control, you will save yourself time later when you need to find and work on those documents. Our website provides access to the titling structures used by the Records Management Office. However, the key things to think about are consistency of language and to try and avoid over personalising shared file structures. That is, try to use folder names that provide details about the contents of the files (or the activity undertaken) over, say, files labelled "Robin's Files".
This will be particularly helpful for key strategic documents, committee meeting papers, and student-related documentation.
- For more information and advice to help you achieve recordkeeping best practice, visit the University Records Management website; https://www.monash.edu/records-archives/records-management/advice
- Undergraduate and Graduate Research naming convention
- HDR Higher Degree Research naming conventions
- Advice from the ICA (International Council of Archivists) - COVID-19: The duty to the document does not cease in a crisis, it becomes more essential.