Monday, June 8, 2015

Records creation and control: forms, reports management, audits and reports

Forms

  • Carefully designed documents used to gather and transmit information necessary for operational functions and for historical records
  • Electronic forms known as templates
    • Blank forms stored electronically in a computerized information processing system
Forms management program
  • A records management function designed to achieve the efficient collection and distribution of information through the use of forms
Objectives of forms management program
  • Control creation of forms
  • Eliminate obsolete forms
  • Standardize forms
  • Standardize and streamline distribution
Forms analysis
  • Process of determining whether a form is necessary and, if so, how it should be designed for maximum efficiency
    • Conduct forms survey
      • Inventory by department of forms currently in use, or in stock
      • Will help eliminate duplicate forms
    • Evaluate flow of forms
      • At least 75% of time required to process a form should be working time
    • Eliminate inactive forms
    • Establish form files
      • Numeric (historic record of form)
      • Functional (groups forms according to function, allows ready recognition of duplicate forms)
      • Specifications (groups forms according to manner in which printed, e.g. carbonless, single sheet, continuous feed)
    • Consolidate forms
    • Evaluate forms design
Forms management procedures
  • Policies must cover
    • Originating forms
    • Ordering forms
    • Evaluating forms
Forms design
  • Basic goal of forms design to:
    • Facilitate collection and use of data
      • Present good visual effect
      • Minimize writing required
      • Information in logical sequence
      • Compatible with equipment used to fill out (computer, pen/pencil)
    • Achieve printing economies
      • Design on standard paper sizes
      • Order appropriate quantities and select appropriate paper colour, quality and weight
Guidelines for forms design
  • Divide form into parts
    • Facilitate area: section, usually at top that provides info such as organization name, form no., instructions
    • Working area: section of form that requests information necessary to achieve purpose for which form designed
  • Allow adequate spacing
  • Use clear captions
  • Place ballot boxes in front of responses
  • Make forms self-instructing
  • Identify organization in all external forms
  • Display date (original print date or most recent revision date)
  • Show distribution and routing on forms
Computer forms
  • Forms software can be used to design a variety of business forms
  • Organizations with electronic equipment especially those with LANS and WANS should consider using electronic forms
    • Users can access and submit without printing
  • Electronic forms can save substantial printing costs
  • Advantageous for forms needing frequent updating
Processing information with reports
  • Reports are upward communication to management used for decision making
  • Type of reports
    • Activity: reflect participation of personnel in special activities
    • Feeder: reflect contribution as in a production report
    • Forecasts: provide projections
    • Status: reflect existing conditions
    • Summary: recapitulate activities
    • Consolidated: compilation of existing data
    • Onetime
    • Special studies show results of research, development, operational testing re a particular program/problem
Types of reports
  • Exclude from reports management program routine reports, e.g.
    • Minutes of meetings
    • Administrative procedures
    • Technical manuals
Reports management program objectives
  • Identify reports production and needs for these reports
  • Provide visibility of report volume and its costs
  • Control creation of new reports
  • Establish a method of purging unnecessary reports from system
  • Determine number of hours spent on report preparation
  • Control distribution and provide audit controls
  • Improve quality and true effectiveness of reports
  • Promote exception reporting where appropriate
  • Reduce number of items in reports through content analysis
  • Consolidate, simplify, and standardize reports
Reports management procedures
  • Reports inventory
  • Reports questionnaire
    • Need for report, suggestions for improvement, etc. 
    • Review of completed questionnaire by records management
      • Delete from distribution list those no longer requiring report
      • Eliminate report if distribution reduced to zero
      • Take follow-up actions to update distribution lists and improve reports based on comments made by recipients
      • Prepare a report inventory log
  • Report inventory log
    • Summary of report questionnaire data
Reports files
  • Functional reports file: maintains information about reports having a similar function
    • Helps to minimize duplication
  • Historical reports file: maintains history of each report
  • Reports catalogue
    • Often issued by large organizations
    • Helps curtail need to print large copies of report as employees made aware that report available to them from central location
Audits and reports
  • Control is the function that compares achieved results with planned goals
  • Types of control
    • Precontrol: purpose to eliminate problems before they occur
    • Concurrent: identifies problems as they occur
    • Feedback (aka postcontrol): focuses on results; takes place when work completed
Scope
  • Control function monitors three major areas of records management
    • Employee performance: reflected in administrative costs and productivity
    • Information quality and quantity: central and primary link in the scope of the control subsystem
    • Supplies and equipment use: monitor for waste
Responsibilities for records control
  • Shared by those involved in creation and use of records and those involved in processing records
  • Records creation and use
    • Originator
    • Recipient
    • Administrative support staff
  • Records processing
  • Records manager
    • Ultimately responsible for effectiveness of records control system
    • To control creation and retention of records, records manager can:
      • Approve requests for new reports
      • Approve requests for new or revised forms
      • Establish guidelines for use by all originators for an efficient flow of correspondence and directives
      • Evaluate all requests for printing
  • Department heads and supervisors
    • Responsibilities largely in area of flow through and follow-up
  • Records staff
    • Responsible for major portion of records processing procedures
  • Administrative support staff
    • If no records centre and all records decentralized may have same responsibility for records as records staff
Auditing the records management system
  • Audit: regularly scheduled examination and verification of a specific activity
  • Audit trail: procedure that provides documentation for regular examination and verification
Types of audits
  • Administrative
    • Examines the overall system
    • Questionnaire typically used
  • Operational audit
    • Examines specific processes within the system

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