To begin with, it is necessary to mention that the process of memory management is closely linked with IT management issues, as all the information storage processes are held with the assistance of electronic systems and saved in digital form. The fact is that the business is conducted electronically all over the world, and this tendency is steadily increasing. The new technologies are used for increasing the competitive advantages of the business, and enhance the quality of the products and services, as well as for the development of the markets and the range of services.
The companies are aiming at the improvement of the services and performance by applying electronic technologies in all the spheres of business, including customer care, human resource management, financial management etc. he regulation of these spheres requires keeping of the information, managing all the necessary documentation, and gathering new data and information.
Customers expect the products and services to be available in electronic form, and more and more individuals perform their businesses in electronic form. Consequently, the issues of corporate memory are of essential importance for the economies of the states, financial systems of the organizations and the overall business performance.
From this point of view, it is necessary to mention that this paper is aimed at explaining the main principles of corporate memory management and offering specific recommendations for the company which is going to change its geographic location and then modify its corporate memory management systems. Initially, it will be required at least to save the collected information and restore the structure and hierarchy of the data after moving.
Basic Features of Informational Structure
Before offering recommendations, it is of vital importance to regard the existing structure of the company and define at least general features of this structure and memory management principles.
It is stated that the V G Summers and Legers are not deeply focused on the issues of memory management, that is why the structure and the allover system can not be regarded as the reliable one. Nevertheless, there are several essential features, which make this process reliable enough for keeping and storing the business performance information. First of all it is necessary to emphasize that there are two types of records, which are used in the memory management system:
- Administrative records (personnel, finance, and administration).
- Client records. These make up the bulk of records. There are about 100 000 paper client files in total held in the four office buildings; many of the documents are also held on the divisional file servers or on individual staff members’ PCs’; these electronic copies are retained for two reasons – firstly, in case the paper copies are mislaid, and secondly to use as the basic fro similar documents on future occasions.
The main categories of the files, which are implemented in the system are thethe following:
- Tax – (company income tax, individual income tax, sales tax, fringe benefits tax). These files are sent to secondary storage when they become too thick. They may cove several years.
- Audit – New files are opened for each audit; the previous year’s files are also needed for reference. Audit files vary greatly in size from one thin file to over 100 physical parts.
- Accounting – New files are opened for every accounting period (usually quarterly or annual); the previous year’s files are required for reference.
- Insolvency – These are both the files that belonged to the insolvent companies, and the files about the companies.
- Management consultancy – There are client files for the various areas in which the firm provides consultancy (e.g. financial management tourism, executive selection, marketing). Categories of management consultancy files are project files, proposals and reports, correspondence files.
It is emphasized that at the moment, each department is responsible for managing information flow, both paper and electronic. There is no corporate policy on records management, although there is a requirement for copies of all documents to be stored in paper form on the relevant files. There are few written procedures, certainly no firm-wide procedures. Staff uses the divisional filing ‘systems’ as they think suitable, rather than according to agreed standards and procedures.
Originally, changing of the geographic location requires increased responsibility and the particular attentiveness to the information, as this is the period, which is constantly subjected to informational losses. Moreover, it is the greatest ever opportunity to change the structure and the hierarchy of the corporate management. It is claimed in Vendelo (2006) that the innovative application of the informational base is frequently enabling major social and organizational modifications which are reflected in the following requirements:
- Radical restructuring of organizations
- Outsourcing and diversification of management of previously core business activities
- The emergence of new organizational forms
- Re-engineered work processes,
- The anticipation of the virtual office.
Data is recorded and protected
Data is not properly stored
Lots of files are duplicated
It is not structured
There is clear awareness of the necessity for system modification
The stored data is basically systematized
Information is subjected to losses
From this point of view, it should be stated that the threats and weaknesses essentially overweight the positive feature of the corporate management, thus, it should be stated that the restructuring of the memory management and the allover information flow structure will bring numerous benefits as well as essential risks. One of the risks, which are often highlighted, is that “there will not be sufficient evidence of social and business activity conducted in the electronic environment to meet organizational and individual needs”. (Nash, 2001)
Taking into account the stated above on the matter of the system flow structure and the principles of corporate management flow, it is necessary to emphasize that the organization will inevitably have to state its individual goal in the process of recordkeeping, and compose detailed strategy, basing on the previous experience of recordkeeping. The strategies, based on these goals should be strictly observed, nevertheless, the observation as the principle will be affected by several factors, such as policies standards and regulations, nevertheless, the initial recommendations (priorities) for the goals will be the following:
- In order to make the progress, the work and the adjustment of the new principles should be undertaken all through the whole company in order to achieve effective electronic recordkeeping;
- The pursuing of the required vision should be proclaimed in all the departments, for everyone could participate in implementing the innovations (this would decrease the risks of information loss and help the employees get used to the new system);
- It will be necessary to project the professional commitment to the matters and troubles of innovative corporate memory management to others within the organizations and to the wider community.
Regular reporting and discussing of the modification progress, and the steady improvement of the implementation and performance processes and strategies will assist in enhancing the long term validity of these initial steps.
First of all, it should be stated that the process of recordkeeping is the basis of the memory management in general. Depending on the way of saving and recording the necessary information, it further safety and unity depends. Cox and Wallace (2002) stated the following on this matter: “recordkeeping is a critical function which is performed through the collective action of individuals and systems throughout all organizations. Recordkeeping systems are information systems that are distinguished by the fact that the information they contain is linked to transactions which they document. Records may be consulted for documentation of those transactions or because they contain information that is useful for some completely separate purpose, but recordkeeping systems do not just contain data to be reused; they maintain evidence over time.”
Recordkeeping systems should maintain the corporate memory of the corporation by maintaining the business functions of the company. Originally, all the functions of the business performed by the company should require records of all the performed business transactions, for it was possible to go on the day-to-day operations, satisfy administrative and legal requirements, and maintain accountability.
As Betz (2003) stated, the requirements for the recordkeeping systems should also define the corporative requirements for the data managing structures. As _____ (___) had emphasized “Archives and records management are only one business application within the organization, just as are manufacturing, sales, service delivery or personnel management. In designing and implementing information and recordkeeping systems, the functional requirements for any particular business applications must be considered together with various corporate functional requirements. The functional requirements presented below, on the other hand, are universal for any recordkeeping system.”
As for the issues of the recommendations for the V G Summers and Legers company, it should be stated that the recordkeeping processes should be adjusted from the very beginning, as the current situation is not satisfying enough. First of all, the company’s policy should fit the administrative requirements, and be compliant with the issues of jurisdiction, in which the company operates.
Currently, some pieces of information are recorded without warning the employees; consequently, this is regarded as illegal. Moreover, it is of vital importance to demonstrate the awareness of the required practices for the industrial sector in which the company is engaged. The external recordkeeping processes and requirements should be standardized in order to fit the internal recordkeeping, thus, avoiding confusion.
The laws and the norms of jurisdiction should be strictly observed. The regulatory issues of the administrative authority should strictly regulate the norms of recordkeeping in order to avoid confusion on the one hand and observe accuracy on the other hand. The best practices and principles of recordkeeping should be established with the assistance of professional and business organizations’ experience within the regulations of industry and business functions of the organization.
O’Sullivan (2004) stated the following: “Records should be created on the basis of organizational business transactions which are controlled by an external recordkeeping requirements, and be linked to an internal retention rule referencing the documented law, regulation, or statement of best practice”. From this point of view, it should be highlighted that the laws, regulations, and norms of best practice are generally tracked in the way that modifications to these norms are reflected in the updated internal recordkeeping rules.
Taking into account the problem of recordkeeping and the allover memory management, it should be stated that a great deal of time is wasted by the client staff and the filing staff in searching for missing files. It is regarded as the central problem and causes a lot of frustration and embarrassment, and causes too many difficulties for successful implementation of customer care. Originally, this is largely due to inadequate directions from the client staff to the filing staff.
In addition, there is duplication of files and problems with retrieval because there are no established rules on citation and filing order of client names. Consequently, the only recommendation which should be made on this issue is the increase of the responsibility level and encouragement of the accuracy in leading all the documentation. The systems should be accurately regulated by the corresponding policies, the responsibilities should be appropriately assigned, and the formal methodology implemented and adjusted.
The key recommendation that should be given for all the recordkeeping policies is the statement that all the records must be controlled to avoid linkage to the transaction. This is explained by the fact that any data being transacted gets duplicated. Thus, the data of file creation may be changed, which causes further confusion. Thus, all the data in the record should belong to the same transaction, or, as a variant, the discrete system of exist recordings, representing the results of all the communications, associated with business data transactions, should be created.
One of the most important features of the memory management in general and recordkeeping in particular is the completeness of the process. As Cox (2005) emphasized “Records must contain the content, structure and context generated by the transaction they document. The content of records must be quality controlled at input to ensure that information in the system correctly reflects what was communicated in the transaction. Data capture practices and system functions ensure that source data is exactly replicated by system or corrected to reflect values established in system authority files.”
Finally, it is generally emphasized that the basis of reliable and solid system of recordkeeping and corporate memory management is the allover responsibility and accuracy of the employees themselves. If the workers of the company are properly instructed and encouraged to maintain the strict order in the data structures of the company, their levels of confusion, and the time for searching the necessary data (file) will be essentially lowered.
Originally, the properly stored data can not be lost during the moving, consequently, the restructuring should be started after changing the location. The plan for the reformation will be the following
- All the information should be tagged.
- The tags will help to classify and systematize files
- Remove all the duplicated files
- The strict principles of memory management should be worked out
- Experience of the other companies should be studied
- All the employees should be clearly instructed
- The correct order should be maintained
The fact is that these simple actions will be enough for the beginning, and the elaboration of the new properly structured system will take at least 10 months, as the system will be worked out from the very beginning.
The resources for the changes are the legislative system of the country, the existing data base of the company and the previous experience in corporate memory management. The responsibilities for the restructuring should be imposed on the whole team,
All the recommendations, which are represented in this paper are aimed at improving the current situation with the corporate memory management of the V G Summers and Legers company. The fact is that there are essential difficulties in the sphere of managing information, consequently, urgent and drastic measures should be taken for solving the problem immediately and effectively.
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