Increased regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, high-profile SEC investigations, embarrassing email discoveries, and increasingly costly class-action litigation continue to illustrate corporate America's inability to effectively manage business records and information. Knowing they are at risk, companies are scrambling to find solutions - often spending millions to safeguard data and information, without knowing much simpler and more effective compliance and risk-reduction solutions are available.

In April, the professional members of ARMA International will call upon corporate America to take the first steps in this effort by understanding and reviewing their Records and Information Management (RIM) policies.

With more than 150 chapters in the U.S., Canada and around the world, ARMA International is the primary resource for those who manage records and information. As a professional, not-for-profit organization, ARMA International is dedicated to helping companies understand today's records management issues and leverage information, resources and standards.

Arma Offers Some Simple Tips:

As part of the organization's celebration of International RIM Month, ARMA International encourages you to take the time to review your information and data management policies, and offers the following tips:

Know your RIM IQ: In order to successfully evaluate your company's records and data policies, you must first understand the issues surrounding RIM. Take the time to read articles on the information management issues facing corporations today including electronic records management, Sarbanes-Oxley and SEC rulings, and data protection.

Think outside the box: Records and information management is everybody's job, and it starts at the desktop. It's about managing emails, versions of electronic documents, vital records, instant messages and the list goes on. With the increasing number of personal communication and production devices, everyone needs to be aware of what needs to be saved, when, why and for how long.

Take the time to train: Individual employees play a critical role in helping your organization comply and succeed in litigation, audits, document preservation, and daily records and information management tasks. Make sure they get adequate training on these topics.

Evaluate your electronic records policies: With the growth of electronic records - including email, voicemail and instant messaging - the capacity for discoverable information has increased. The international records management standard, ISO 15489, applies to all relevant business records, including electronic records. This month, create or review your company's electronic records policies. Pay particular attention to your email retention policies emphasizing retention based on the content of the messages, not the application.

Form a compliance team: In today's information-centric enterprise, compliance requires that legal, IT and RIM all be at the table. No one department can provide a complete solution to your company's regulatory compliance needs. Assemble a team from these - and other key compliance-related areas - to work together to assess the organization's potential risks and identify the policies, processes, and technology required to address them.

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