Centralised vs. Decentralised Records Management

By Glenbeigh Records Management, Monday, 10th January 2022 | 0 comments
Filed under: Records Management.

Business records are strategic assets that help organisations execute their business functions and make good decisions. There are two main approaches in which an organisation can take to managing physical records; namely a centralised approach or a decentralised approach. Deciding which approach is the best fit for your organisation is a key decision with strategic implications.


Centralised Records Management

A centralised approach to records management is one in which all physical records are located in one central location, either an onsite filing room or an offsite storage location, with all records catalogued in line with an agreed format, stored efficiently, and overseen by a staff member assigned responsibility for records management, or in the case of a large centralised filing system, several staff members.


  • Security – an onsite filing room or records centre is designed specifically for the protection and management of records with advanced security, fire protection, and access control systems.
  • Uniformity – a uniform and standardised system of filing can be established throughout the organisation along with procedures for retrieving files from the central location.
  • Traceability – correspondence about the same subjects can be filed together and all records can be tracked when they are retrieved from the central location.
  • Cost Savings – the cost of storage is reduced as economies of scale are gained from fitting out one central filing room or availing of a purpose-built offsite storage facility.
  • Controlled Assess – only staff with authorised access can locate files on the filing system and request a retrieval.
  • Compliance – if the organisation deals with highly sensitive information, adherence to privacy regulation including GDPR is streamlined.


  • Investment – may be required to fit out a filing room and purchase software*.
  • Staffing – a staff member(s) needs to be assigned responsibility for records management or a new role needs to be created.
  • Retrieval Time – records may be too distant from staff for a timely retrieval.

*Most centralised records management systems are supported by a barcode tracking software which ensures traceability of all records, uniformity for new records added and control of permissions for authorised users.


Decentralised Records Management

A decentralised approach on the other hand is one in which physical records are located throughout the entire organisation, either on workstations or in filing cabinets. With this approach each department takes their own approach to records management and records are typically controlled by the individuals who create them, resulting in information silos throughout the organisation.


  • Space – a filing room in the office does not need to be provided for storing records.
  • Staffing – existing staff do not need to be assigned records management responsibilities and additional staff do not need to be hired. In additional, staff which create records may feel empowered knowing they are in control of their own filing.
  • Retrieval Time – as the files are managed and stored by the staff members that created them, they can access them in a timely manner.


  • Risk of Security Breach – the confidentiality of the files may be at risk on workstations or in filing cabinets in the office.
  • Lack of Uniformity – an individual’s approach to filing may make it cumbersome to amalgamate files about the same subject at a later date.
  • Reliance on Individuals – an individual’s approach to filing may make it difficult to locate specific records in their absence.

Every organisation’s needs are different and each organisation can better determine the most suitable option for them. Considering the importance of this decision organisations should take the time to fully understand all their needs.

Glenbeigh Records Management provide records and information management (RIM) solutions to organisations throughout Ireland. For guidance on how to move to a centralised records management system please freephone us on 1800 946 398 or complete the contact form.

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