Is your business struggling to manage the volume and complexity of the digital and physical records it has to keep? For thousands of businesses, the answer is a resounding yes. You are required by operational and compliance concerns to store records systematically, accessibly, and in accordance with strict information security and privacy standards.

But manually managing records is expensive, inefficient, time-consuming, and error-prone, which is why many businesses turn to an electronic records management system. 

An electronic records management system helps businesses achieve their operational and compliance goals more easily and efficiently while reducing the cost of record management. But which is the right record management system for your organization? In this article, we explore five electronic records management features you should consider before deciding.

What Is an Electronic Records Management System?

Electronic records management systems are a software solution for managing the records lifecycle, from ingestion and storage to disposal. They provide secure storage and access while automating some of the more complex aspects of compliant records management, such as encryption, chain-of-custody reports, document searches, and secure document destruction. 

Businesses should expect their electronic records management systems to provide a friction-free process for collecting digital and physical records. That includes options to scan physical documents immediately or as they are required, as well as to deliver hard copies or digital copies with short lead times. In addition to storing documents, an electronic records management system should also provide intuitive web interfaces for accessing, searching, and generating reports. 

5 Key Features to Look for in Electronic Records Management Systems

Electronic records management systems vary widely in sophistication, user-friendliness, and the tools they provide. If your business is considering adopting a record management system, we recommend you look for and ask potential vendors about these five must-have features. 

Secure Data Storage

Many of the most significant data breaches happened because records were stored insecurely. Sensitive data is valuable to criminals, and they will exploit any gap in security to access and exfiltrate data. A security gap might be as simple as forgetting to lock a filing cabinet that contains medical records or as complex as improperly configuring cloud storage access permissions and encryption. 

An electronic records management system protects users against these kinds of mistakes. Your chosen solution should offer world-class physical security, industry-leading data encryption, both at rest and in motion, and access logs so you know who has accessed your data and when.

Flexible Access Management Tools

The secure storage of sensitive information is only one component of a comprehensive record management system. Your employees must also be able to access records quickly and efficiently to facilitate business operations and satisfy auditing and reporting requirements. Furthermore, access must be tightly controlled via an identity and access management system that allows organizations to assign granular permissions to authorized users. 

When assessing electronic records management systems, ensure they provide an intuitive interface with tools for searching and adding records, requesting record delivery, and generating reports. 

Industry-Specific Compliance Capabilities

Regulatory compliance is one of the biggest record management challenges businesses face. Sensitive data is subject to a host of regulatory standards with rigorous requirements, including HIPAA, FERPA, FACTA and SOX,  and many more. The rules differ depending on the data type, and they change frequently. 

Your electronic records management system should be able to help you to comply with relevant regulations throughout the document lifecycle with features such as chain-of-custody management and reports, record retention and destruction schedules, and compliant digital storage and record delivery systems. 

Record Retention Scheduling

How you dispose of records is just as important as how you store them. Regulatory standards compel businesses to keep records for a specified period, after which they must be disposed of securely. The method used to destroy records depends on their form, whether that’s physical, stored on a cloud platform, or on tapes and hard drives. 

When you’re investigating an electronic records management vendor, be sure to enquire about record retention scheduling and secure destruction. You should expect them to offer one-time and scheduled shredding services for paper documents and the secure destruction of various digital storage media. 

The Ability to Integrate With Business Systems

Your business already leverages a range of solutions to create and manage documents. You shouldn’t have to transition to an entirely new system to implement compliant records management. Instead, a record management system should adapt to your existing processes. For example, if you use Microsoft Office 365 or DocuSign, be sure to ask vendors whether their electronic records management systems integrate with those products to provide comprehensive record management as part of your existing processes. 

Find the Electronic Record Management System That’s Right For You

We’ve focused on five of the essential features electronic records management systems should have, but there are many more we could have included, such as priority delivery for electronic and physical documents, scan-on-demand services, and a physical location near your offices. 

If you’re looking for an electronic records management system that combines all of these features and more, visit our Records Management Services and Document Storage Solutions or contact a record management specialist today.