Monday, June 29, 2015

Reports review guide

Note to reviewing Officers---
checked, use separate sheet
Check appropriate column.
 for recording changes or
If "Questionable" is
PART I: To be completed by
the using office.
Questionable Satisfactory

Who uses it?
How is it used?
What is it purpose?
Should it be continued?
Is every item used?
Are there any items missing?
Are all distributed copies used to good purpose?

Are negative reports required?
What use is made of them?
Is frequency adequate?
Is a lower or diminishing frequency feasible?

Is the value of the report worth its cost?
How effective a management tool has this been?
Do the contents develop trends by properly mixing historical, current, and projected conditions?
Are scope and content of the report tailored to need?
Are comparisons provided against goals, standards of past performance, or some other known factor?
Are units proper for meaningful interpretation?
Are signatures of verifying and approving officials included when necessary?
Is source data accurate? What is its record of dependability?
Are data needs of other levels and offices tied in?
Would it be appropriate to report conditions only when other than normal?
Would sampling of a few offices provide representative and reliable data?
If forms are used, do all offices use the same form? If narrative is used, is there a standard of acceptability?
Does the style of presentation provide clarity and finding ease? Is it condensed? Are graphics used well?
Would just a summary be better?
PART II: To be completed by the preparing office.

Has a procedure been written for the preparation of the report?
Are the report and the preparation procedures regularly reviewed?

Is the data in some other report? Is the data more accessible from another office?

Could this report be combined with another report?

Is it possible to get the report as a by-product of some other process (i.e. multicopy form set)?

Are all copies distributed essential?
Do due dates give enough time for preparation and review?
Has preparing office workload been considered? Could end-of-month or end-of-year reports be avoided?
Are there periodic conflicts among respondents or between feeder and summary reports?
Has complete and/or timely submission of this report been a problem?
Does the type of presentation--narrative, graphic, or tabular--best portray information?
Is it possible to match feeder reports from several sources and compile by stripping?
Are items grouped and sequenced to work flow? Is spacing adequate for responses?

Does the layout lead the reader to prompt and accurate conclusions?

Should records be arranged differently to simplify reporting?


Are procedures for feeder reports provided to ensure uniformity and simplicity?
Could actual records or copies be sent instead of the prepared report?
Can fiscal or statistical data be kept on a cumulative basis in order to eliminate last-minute workloads?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Report evaluation form

TO: Report Recipient                DATE:                            
To assist in reducing the volume of paperwork, your evaluation of this report is needed. Please check the item below that, for you, best describes the attached report copy--
[ ] 1. I don't really need this report; please discontinue it. [ ] 5. I need the report as is; please continue it. (I keep it on hand for __ months.)
[ ] 2. I need the information in the report but could obtain it from a reference copy if one were made in my general area. Additional comments on Item No. :

[ ] 3. I need the information, but on a less frequent basis.  I would like a copy (circle one):
weekly     monthly   quarterly     annually

[ ] 4. I need this report, but it would be much more useful if the report could be modified in format or content.
Date:              Your name:                 Department:
Note: If you wish to continue to receive this report, you must respond within 10 days.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Forms design checklist

Yes No

1. Considering the source of the information, its use, and the way users normally write or read it, are all items and groups of items arranged in the right sequence?

2. Considering the type of storage equipment used, is the key information (data used to retrieve the form in a file) in the most visible location


3. Considering the preparation method, has the proper amount of space been provided for each piece of requested information?

4. Does the horizontal spacing visually direct the user from one section to the next?

5. Is the vertical spacing set so that data can be entered on the form using a typewriter or computer without vertical adjustments?

6. Is all extra space used properly for emphasis, separation, and balance instead of looking left over?

7. Will all captions be understood by everyone who might use the form?
8. Are captions placed in the upper-left corner of each fill-in area?
9. Will abbreviations really be understood?
10. Are group captions or headings used to identify major areas?
Multiple-choice answers
11. Are possible answers given (including check boxes) whenever they would help the users provide better answers in less time?
12. Are the answers and check boxes arranged properly for the most productive and accurate fill-in?
Instruction and distribution
13. Can someone unfamiliar with the form complete it without referring to any other source for help?
14. Have all unnecessary instructions and explanations been left off the form so that the user’s intelligence will not be insulted?
15. Are the distribution instructions shown on the form in the most effective way for its usage pattern and construction?
16. If an interior copy is to be removed from the set before the others, is that copy slightly longer so that it can be easily identified and removed?
17. Is the self-mailer format used whenever applicable?
18. Is the form designed to fit a window envelope whenever appropriate?
19. Does the form have adequate margins for the required lock-up (gripper) space on the press?
20. Are the margins adequate for any binding technique to be used, such as hole punches for notebooks and post binders?
21. Are the margins adequate for other handling characteristics, such as filing, copying, stapling, and so on?
Types, lines, and screens
22. Do all of the lines on the form do what they are supposed to do? (Some guide, some separate, some stop.)
23. Is screening (shading) used where helpful to separate, highlight, or identify fields or zones and not just to decorate the form?
24. Within the same typeface, is there variation in the size of type, its boldness, and use of capital and small letters and italics to enhance the appearance and legibility of the form?
25. Is the size appropriate for the printer, all users, and storage equipment?
26. Is the construction right for the way the form will be handled?
27. Is the paper right for the use and retention needs of the form?
28. Is the colour of ink appropriate?
29. Are all appropriate holes, perforations, scores, and so forth, shown on the layout and not interfered with by the copy?
30. Is the title meaningful?
31. Is the form properly identified with a number and date for ease in referencing, ordering, inventorying, and so on?
32. Is the organization properly identified?
33. Is this form accomplish its purpose with the minimum amount of effort by all users?
34. Is this the best possible tool to do this job?

Monday, June 8, 2015

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

  • 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
  • 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

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)