All records and information managers must decide whether to store records in a centralized or a decentralized location. Before deciding, they should fully understand these methods, along with the pros and cons of each.
What Are Centralized and Decentralized Records Centers?
In a centralized records center, all physical files are stored in a single location. The location is administered by the records management staff.
In a decentralized records center, the physical files are located in different places within the organization, such as an end users’ office, workstation or other workroom space.
Files in a centralized records center are controlled exclusively by the entire records department, while files in a decentralized records center are controlled by the end user who creates the files.
Pros and Cons of Centralized Records Centers
- All physical files relating to a particular case exist in one location. If a file is needed, end users simply ask the records department via email or online portal to send the file to the end user upon approval.
- A centralized records center is very secure. The entrance is virtually impenetrable to anyone but authorized users.
- Standardized departmental practices are authenticated and circulated to all end users.
- End users may have to wait a long time to access files, depending on the approval speed of the records department.
- Hiring full-time staff to manage the location is a considerable expense.
Pros and Cons of Decentralized Records Centers
- End users have instant access to a file they created.
- End users are responsible for maintaining file accuracy.
- A decentralized center does not necessitate a full-time staff.
- A group of end users will be unable to access a file created by another end user if the file creator is not present.
- End users may struggle to locate a file without records department staff or a chain-of-custody procedure.