In my most recent AIIM blog post, What the Steve Miller Band Taught Me About Information Governance, I talked about operational records. Operational records are essence vital records for your organization and part of the continuity of operations plan. Robin Woolen, aka The Records Guru, on how records management by a tough sell, but getting involved in the emergency planning team and forming a vital records program. The three steps to forming a vital records program are identification, analysis and implementation.

Identification is important because it allows you to understand what is important for a business to operate immediately after a disaster occurs. This cannot be done alone, but needs representatives from legal, IT, records management, administration/operations and finance. The four categories that Robin said to identify are are as follows:

    1. Vital Records – These are irreplaceable records. Copies are not as valuable as the originals. These are essential records for continuity of services or restoration of daily operations.
      Important Records – These records can be replaced only at considerable cost in time and labor.
      Useful Records – These records might be inconvenient to replace, but can be easily recreated at little cost and does not halt the restoration of daily operations.
      Nonessential Records – These records present no issue to restoring daily operations.
  • Analysis
    Analysis is comprised of risk analysis and protection method analysis which will allow one to then perform a return on investment analysis.


    The focus of the analysis should be on the cost of replacing the Vital Record if lost. The formula for Risk Analysis is as follows:

    R = P x C


    R = the risk associated with the loss of a specific vital records series due to a catastrophic event or other threat

    P = the probability that such a threat will occur in any given year

    C = the cost of the loss if the threat occurs

    Protection Method Analysis
    This analysis looks at how records are being protected and where upgrades can be made and processes made more efficient. Different protection methods include 1)duplication and dispersal, 2)on site storage and 3)offsite storage.

    Implementing involves planning, communicating and training so that vital records are included in emergency response plans and procedures. This should also include periodic drills and continuous improvement audits as part of implementation.

    I would encourage you go here and read the whole post.