Developing an Effective Records Retention Schedule

Posted on October 21, 2016

When it comes to decluttering your home, getting of rid items you no longer want or need boils down to a matter of choice. Managing your organization’s records on the other hand, is a whole other ball game. You have to consider key factors like corporate history and regulatory compliance before making any moves. Being meticulous about your retention schedule is an essential part of any successful records information management (RIM) strategy.

What is a records retention schedule?

A records retention schedule is a list of a business’s records, documenting when they need to be kept and when they need to be destroyed. There is no universal schedule. Each business has the own unique set of requirements, contingent on the type of organization and its legal and regulatory requirements.

Effective document file management—including a retention schedule that is comprehensively evaluated, compliant, and followed—offers a host of crucial benefits to your organization. For starters, you will have greater control over your files, increase awareness of important records, and effectively manage your legal and regulatory compliance concerns. Here are some important features to consider when developing an effective compliant records retention schedule.

Assess your current records retention schedule

The first step in generating a solid records retention schedule is to do a thorough inventory of all existing records. You need to know what files you have, how they were created, how they are used, and where they are stored. Understanding your organization’s paper trail will give you a clearer indication on how to properly govern effective records retention.

Organize your files

After you have identified your records, you’ll want to properly categorize them. Keep in mind however, when you are organizing your files, less is definitely more. The fewer categories you create, the easier it will be for you to track down retention and disposal policies.

Know your legal risks

When it comes records retention, it is vital to have a sound understanding of your legal and regulatory responsibilities. For instance, you need to know what regulatory agencies and rules pertain to your business. What’s more, you have to have a firm grasp on your legal risks and the relationship those threats have on the files you store.

Evaluate records according to your business needs

In addition to your legal and regulatory requirements, there are a number of records that should to be assessed according to your business needs. Some documents may be critical to the operations of your organization, while others might be important to hang on to for historical reasons. Regardless of the types of records you have, decide which records you need to keep and for how long. Otherwise, you could run the risk of holding on to records beyond your regulatory, legal, and business obligations, as well as prematurely destroying documents.

Educate staff

No matter how effective your records retention schedule might be, it is going to fall flat if it isn’t adhered to. So make sure to appropriately train your staff, giving them the tools and the know-how to play their part in following the company’s documents retention schedule.

Here at BCRMS, we understand what it takes for effective records retention. We deliver tailored records management services, helping you stay on top your business, legal, and regulatory obligations. To learn more, contact us today!