Essential records contain mission critical information identified as vital for the continuation or survival of an organization if a disaster strikes. These records are necessary not only to conduct business but also to recreate the organization's legal and financial status and to determine the rights and obligations of employees, customers, stockholders, and citizens.
An essential records management program is a set of policies and procedures designed to enable an institution to take systematic, comprehensive, and economic action to minimize adverse consequences that may result from the loss of mission-critical information.
Whether, private, public, or non-profit, all organizations have certain business operations that they must perform. If essential records are lost, damaged, destroyed, or otherwise rendered unavailable or unusable, mission critical operations will be curtailed or discontinued, resulting in adverse impact--and potentially damaging financial and/or public relations consequences--to an organization. Therefore, the protection of essential records is one of the most important components of a systematic records and information management program.
Examples of essential records in higher education include:
- Student grades and transcripts
- Student class schedules
- Student emergency contact information
- Employee files
- Employee records
- Employee emergency contact information
- Benefits records
- Medical and health records
- Insurance files
- Research records and data
- Historical documents and charters
- Contracts and grants
- Real estate grants and deeds
- Accounting and payroll records
- Finance records