Skip to main content

Managing Electronic Records

From Recordkeeping 101 we know that electronic records are the SAME as paper records as far as retention applies. Electronic records fit into the same two courses of actions with records: archiving or destruction. Most of us don't think about moving our electronic records to the Archives. However, freeing up storage space and moving to Archives for those electronic records that are ready to be transferred is a prudent move.

This page will attempt to provide some guidance for dealing with electronic records in order to prepare them for transferring to archives or destruction, depending on their Record Schedule and content.

Naming Conventions

As with all records, you should pick a file structure that suits the needs of your office and consistently use that structure. There are some considerations that may help you with managing your electronic records. The goal of naming records is to find them later! Specifically, if someone is looking for a record 5 years from now, would they know what to search for to find it, or is it only understandable to you and those in your department? Setting up a naming convention avoids confusion in locating records and new employees can maintain a consistent style.

Main FolderSub FolderFile Name
Committee MeetingsGraduate ResearchGRC Committe Minutes 01252018
GRC Committe Minutes 02152018

Tech CommitteeTEC Minutes 05252020

Email Records

Email is the electronic record created in the greatest quantity and used by the most people, but is also one of the hardest formats to detail with from a records management perspective. Email retention is important as Microsoft Outlook retains emails as long as you have an open account, access it at least once a month, and do not exceed your storage limits You essentially retain all of your emails for the duration of employment with the University. However, before deleting any, you'll need to determine if these records are transitory or require to be retained per a record schedule.

Sending EmailsWhen sending emails, think about how you can best locate this email later. The subject line is the most critical component. As emails are saved into folders later, the searchability is greater if the subject line is more specific. Examples of subject lines:
FYI: Record Schedule Changes to Transitory Records 2022
Request Review: GRC Meeting Minutes 01252018
Saving EmailsOnce an email is received, users may save the email into a folder to review or recall at a later date. Setting up email folders will be beneficial should records need to be transferring to the Archives per a record schedule. Examples of folders:

Disposing of Electronic Records

Any record considered disposable may be deleted at any time. Remember that disposable records are disposable copies, drafts, notes, etc. However, beyond a disposable records, all other records require review before they can be deleted - just like a paper record.

Electronic records are treated the same as paper records and must be reveiwed against a record schedule to determine the retention period and disposal method. As identified in Recordkeeping 101, the Inventory Management Worksheet should be used to assess your electronic records. During this assessment you will be required to match your records with an approved record schedule using the Record Schedules List. Are records ready for Transferring to Archives or can they be set for Destruction?

Transfer to ArchivesFollow the Transfer to Archives process and coordinate with the Archives. In this case, you will have no boxes, but most likely need to be move your records to a flash drive to deliver to the Archives.

A very small number of emails are historically significant and should be preserved for eventual transfer to the Archives. Historically-significant email generally sets or interprets policy, formalizes business processes, documents decision-making, or provides evidence of the activities of an office or department. The Archives can help you identify these types of emails. When in doubt, hold onto it!
Destroy RecordsFollow the Destruction of Records process. In most cases where electronic records are ready for disposal and are not confidential, they can be deleted immediately (as long as you have verified the record schedule retention period has passed and the disposal method is "destroy"). Otherwise, you are required to document the destrucction on a Confidential Disposal Form and obtain approval prior to deleting any records.

If records are not confidential, and have passed the retention schedule, feel free to press delete!