Know What Records You Have

Step 1: Know What Records You Have:  Maintain an Information Inventory

The first step in records management is to know what you have, by maintaining an inventory of your unit’s information. Records are categorized by the work in which they created and used, so a list of your unit’s responsibilities and processes is also a list of your categories of records.

There are two broad areas to consider: your unit’s core responsibilities, defining your purpose/mission, and activities common to every University office (human resources, finances & budgeting, etc.) Records of common administrative activities are easily categorized by the records classes in the University Records Classification Scheme and Retention Schedules (WatClass).

For your unit’s core responsibilities, you can either start with WatClass or your own existing documentation, such as a strategic plan, to identify records categories. Contact the University Records Manager for assistance with matching your records to the terminology used in WatClass.

Your information inventory will include the following steps:

  • Review the records classes in WatClass, and your unit’s list of responsibilities in available documentation.
  • Use the Records Inventory Checklist to identify your main records categories (cut & paste the checklist table from MS Word to Excel, if you prefer).
  • Delete checklist rows for records not found in your unit. If a WatClass retention schedule is not yet available for a category of records, ask the University Records Manager for a draft retention schedule.
  • Review your records storage locations – file cabinets, shared drives, SharePoint sites, boxes in the closet, etc. – and briefly describe the activities the records support, where they’re stored, and other significant characteristics (format, date span, volume, arrangement, etc.) in your inventory checklist.
  • If you have multiple file cabinets, assign an ID number to each cabinet & drawer so you can easily connect the inventory entries with the correct storage location. Every file cabinet will be uniquely identified by a cabinet number and the room number where it’s located.
  • Add new rows to the inventory checklist for sub-categories of records within the same WatClass records class. Your sub-categories might be for related folders on a shared drive, document libraries in SharePoint, or groups of related hard-copy files in a file cabinet.

Your completed inventory will be a table or spreadsheet listing your record categories, the work in which the records are used, their characteristics, storage location, and supporting systems/applications.

Introduction to the WatClass Records Classification and Retention Schedules

WatClass divides all University records into twelve broad functional categories: three for the University’s core mission and activities, and nine supporting administrative functions. You should keep these twelve categories in mind as the broad categories that your records fit into.

The three core functional categories are:

  • Research Management: research ethics, administration, etc.
  • Students: admissions, student records, financial aid, etc.
  • Teaching & Learning:  academic calendars, course management, student work, etc.

The nine supporting categories are:

  • Administration: office operations, planning, policies & guidelines, etc.
  • Campus Services: retail services, athletics & recreation, WatCard, etc.
  • University Relations & Advancement: marketing, communications, advancement, etc.
  • Finance: accounts payable & receivable, P-card transactions, banking, etc.
  • Governance: Board of Governors, Senate, faculty councils, and their committees.
  • Health, Safety, & Security: conflict management, human rights, health & counselling, Special Constable Service, etc.
  • Human Resources: positions searches, employment records, pension & benefits, etc.
  • Information Management: information systems management, information privacy & security, etc.
  • Property & Facilities: buildings & space management, construction, utilities, etc.

Your Collections of University Records

University records include all information formats and media, so your inventory will cover:

  • Data in enterprise systems for which your unit is responsible.
  • Information in databases or other applications used only in your unit (e.g., FileMaker databases).
  • Digital records on shared drives, in SharePoint, and the WCMS. These include documents, spreadsheets, digital images and video, and any other types of information you use in administration and communications.
  • Email in employees’ Outlook accounts relating to your unit’s official responsibilities.
  • Images, video, and other content used in presentations, special events, web pages, social media, etc.
  • Paper files & other hard-copy documentation in file cabinets, shelves, closets, etc.

Next Step (2): Know Which Records You’re Responsible For & Which Are Copies