Monday, June 1, 2015

Records Creation and Control Correspondence, Directives and Copy Management

Goals for Correspondence Management


  1. Improve correspondence quality
  2. Improve correspondence productivity
  3. Reduce correspondence costs
  4. Facilitate correspondence storage and retrieval
Improve correspondence quality
  • Improved by clarity
    • Recipient should not have to decipher, draw interferences, make assumptions about intent of writer
    • Recipient should not be presented with additional questions before requested action can be taken
    • Typically there has been little improvement in time required to produce correspondence
    • Emphasis on productivity improvement has been in administrative support area not in need for managers to increase correspondence productivity
    • Focus on management productivity would result in greater productivity returns (managers earn 74 cents of each white-collar dollar)
Reduce correspondence costs
  • Costs of producing letters have risen dramatically
    • In U.S. the average total cost of producing and mailing one letter c. 2003 is $19.92 (Dartnell Institute of Business Research)
    • Acceleration of correspondence cost plus increased volume of correspondence makes cost reduction essential
Facilitate correspondence storage and retrieval
  • Clearly written, concise letters facilitate easier and faster identification in both the storage and retrieval processes
Determine current status
  • Survey Present Correspondence Procedures
    • Conduct a survey to identify current practices and strengths, weaknesses of present program
      • Ask questions such as
  • What % of originator’s time is spent in composing correspondence?
  • What % dictated to secretary or machine?
  • What % composed in longhand?
  • What % keyboarded by manager?
  • How is correspondence produced (word processing, electronic mail)?
  • How many hours/day is dictation and word processing equipment used?
  • Are paper copies made of outgoing correspondence; if so, how many?
  • Average no. of pages for letters? Memoranda?
  • Usual turnaround time? Is it adequate?
  • What % of correspondence does originator require in rough-draft form?
  • What % returned to word processor for revision?
  • Extent of use of form letters, guide letters or guide paragraphs?
  • Review large sample of correspondence to determine quality
    • Allows ID of organization-wide problems + individual weaknesses
  • Or, Forward an extra copy of all correspondence to records manager for short time (e.g. 2 weeks) for review purposes
Evaluate current correspondence procedures
  • Analyze survey responses and correspondence sampling for recommendations re correspondence quality and efficiency of correspondence management program
Analyze cost factors
  • Categories of correspondence costs
    • Origination costs
      • Directly related to writing and research time necessary to draft correspondence
      • Difficult to determine accurately (originator’s make little effort to track)
    • Processing costs
      • Actual document preparation costs, e.g. equipment, materials, supplies, admin. support
    • Maintenance costs
      • Costs associated with storage and retrieval
    • Distribution costs
      • Costs related to distributing correspondence to appropriate recipients
    • User time costs
      • Time necessary for recipient to efficiently interpret and use the information
      • Directly relate to quality and timeliness of information
Develop plan for accomplishing goals
  • Improve correspondence quality
    • Develop guidelines for effective writing, program for developing writing skills which managers regard as beneficial
    • Standard procedures can be more efficiently presented in a correspondence manual or guide
  • Improve correspondence productivity
    • Preprinted form letters
    • Guide letters and paragraphs
    • Alternatives to hard-copy correspondence, e.g. e-mail; telecommunications; including telephone, wire and satellite services, teleconferencing, fax, voice mail, communicating computers and word processors; microforms
    • Standardized format
    • Productivity standards; work standards; work load, volume, work performance
  • Reduce correspondence costs
    • There is a revenue correlation between correspondence costs and correspondence productivity. As the productivity increases through use of combination of previous methods, correspondence costs decrease
  • Facilitate correspondence storage and retrieval
    • Clear writing style makes it easier to index and code records making them easier to store and retrieve
Disseminate new procedures
  • One way to disseminate information is through a correspondence manual
  • Correspondence manual is one tool for providing information regarding standardization in preparation and distribution of letters, memoranda and other written communications
Establish correspondence evaluation program
  • Any new or established program should be monitored for evaluative purposes
  • Scheduled reviews should be used to evaluate the program
  • Conduct in-depth review at least every 3 years
  • Review new program with quarterly checks and annual review
Evaluation methods
  • Several methods can be used to evaluate correspondence control program
    • Monitor standards
      • Helps to determine if reasonable, being followed, need revision
    • Use checklist
      • Require little time for completion
    • Obtain feedback
      • Use both formal and informal methods
Directives management
  • A directive is an instruction from management, a form of downward communication, usually addressing policy or procedure
  • The purpose of directives management is to provide clear instructions for action and to minimize duplicate or confusing instructions
Records management responsibilities
  • Responsibility for operating the directives program should be placed in a single, specific unit of the organization
  • Responsibility for directives management may be assigned to the records management staff
  • A contact person should be selected from within each office or department
  • The contact person coordinates the directives program with the records management department
Develop directives management program
  • Inventory & analyze directives
  • An inventory of all directive is first step
    • Contact person forwards copies to records management department which groups them into broad categories and separates obsolete directives
    • Directives then returned to contact person in originating unit (department creating the directive or office responsible for the function or subject described in the directive) for review, revision, deletions, or discarding. May also be condensed, consolidated, rearranged, or rewritten
    • Directives including revisions and deletions, returned to records management department
Determine directive content
  • Some directives are long term (remain in effect until cancelled/revised) others are temporary (date of expiration on directive itself, directive destroyed immediately upon date of expiration)
  • Directives usually address policy, procedure, or both
  • Policy statements provide guidelines for making decisions, procedure statements tell how to implement policies
  • The subject of a directive is determined by the originating unit
Establish directive format
  • A standard format provides assistance in directive writing
  • Directive components are:
    • Name of the issuing or originating company
    • Directive number
    • Date the directive takes effect
    • Addresses
    • Subject
    • Content
    • Distribution code
  • Develop conversion schedule
    • Decision re which directives to be immediately incorporated into program followed by conversion schedule showing when additional directives will be integrated
Develop classification system
  • The subject of the directive is the basis for classification
  • Subjects may be primary, secondary or tertiary
  • The directives manual and distribution system for directives are key to program implementation
Implementation directives management program
  • Prepare directives manual
    • Directives manual consolidates all the organizational directives in one place
    • The index is an important part of the directives manual
    • The directives on directives is the first directive in the directive manual, it provides authorization for the program
Determine distribution
  • Manual usually distributed along organization lines
  • Distribution lists must be kept up to date 
    • Directives manual are assigned to a title or function, not a specific person
Copy management
  • It is necessary to control copy proliferation
  • Copy is a duplicate record – a reproduction of the original
  • Copy management is management of copying practices, procedures and control devices to ensure the effective and economical creation of copies
Copy practices
  • Good copy practices require instructions in equipment use and application of common sense
  • Good copy practices include:
    • Acceptable copy (make test copy 1st for multiple copy run)
    • Copy destinations (accept legible not perfect copy for internal use)
    • Quantity indicator (make sure on “!” when finished)
    • Type of paper in feeder (check for nonstandard, e.g. colour card)
    • Remove staples, paper clips, etc.
    • Machine malfunction (leave note on machine)
Copy procedures
  • Develop a current copying activity profile to include:
    • Kind of documents copied (including personal and unauthorized)
    • Purpose served (information copy; copies of forms, directives, etc., available from other sources)
    • Urgency
    • Need for special handling, quality, confidentiality, etc.
    • Volume
    • Composition i.e. one copy of 75 documents or 75 copies of one document
    • Need to copy validation procedure
Copy control devices
  • Copy control devices are usually attached to copy machines to limit access to authorized users
Copying cost factors
  • Copy processing costs
    • Include equipment and equipment maintenance, materials, supplies, admin support time
  • Copy maintenance costs
    • Costs of storing and retrieving copies
  • Copy distribution costs
    • Costs associated with distributing copies to appropriate recipients
  • Copy user costs
    • Time necessary for user to interpret and use information (poorly reproduced copy requires more time to interpret and action)

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