Records Retention: Why it is important for organizations

Information is the most valuable asset in any organization and making good usage of them will play a big role in business continuity in addition to saving lots of money on fines and be compliant with the current privacy regulations.

Companies must adhere to privacy regulations by maintaining confidential information for a minimum set of time however failing to comply will put them in risk for big fines.


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In a previous article, i have explained the difference between Documents and Records. Records retention is the ability to maintain confidential records for a period of time to be disposed periodically.

Depending on the industry and on the records type, organizations must have a flexible system to give them the ability to dynamically set the retention period of their records.

For a successful records retention policy, the system should be able to provide the below modules

Dynamic Schedule based on Records Type

To take advantage of the full capabilities, the system should be able to allow to set retention periods based on the records types. For example, HR records will have to stay longer then minutes of meetings.

Usually ECM systems provides document templates to classify the documents and on each document template you should be able to set the retention policy to comply with your current rules and regulations. A good ECM system will give you a records retention matrix where you can view and set the retention period of all document templates in one shot.

Records Audit Trail

Powerful RM or ECM solutions should give the ability to monitor records throughout their lifecycle. Employees should be able to know when the records was created, its status, and when it will be disposed.

Automated Retention Management

When a records hits it retention schedule deadline, the system should automatically be able to either dispose or archive it. This automated process is essential for reducing human error prone thus reducing the risk to be fined.

Retention Policies Followup Meetings

It is very important that your organization meet on a regular basis to review all the retention schedules already defined, check if new policies and regulations are available, or a change is needed.

A note to consider when a change in the retention period needs to be implemented and for the sake of the audit trail, make sure to keep track record about the previous retention policy and the current one. It is important to know that some records under this retention policy were destroyed in 7 years and other records were destroyed in 10 years.

Final Say

Records and Document management is not straight forward even though both concepts seem easy to understand. Making sure that confidential information are disposed as per the current regulations is a must for all organizations to reduce fines and stay compliant. Document archiving also is very important, check my previous article to know why, as keeping all the information available and maintained all the time have big disadvantages.

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