Records Retention Guidelines

Records Retention Guidelines

Records Retention Policies and Schedules

Every organization must keep records to satisfy legal and business needs. Destroying these records too soon can be costly in a number of ways, some more obvious than others. But keeping records too long has inherent dangers as well. Simply put, records retention scheduling is an integral part of protecting your information and technology assets.

What constitutes business records may seem obvious, but according to law, may be surprising. Many individuals maintain and save what they believe are their own personal or private records. Items like notes relating to meetings, calendars and various papers and forms relating to work they have done on behalf of their company, whether designated “official paperwork” or not. Whatever reasons employees have for saving these records, courts view them as belonging to their organizations and therefore open to access.

When not sure if particular records should be destroyed, it’s always best to hold on to them. Destroying records that are later deemed vital to your business, for whatever reason, can put your organization in financial trouble. So with the risks on both sides of the destruction coin, how do you know what to keep and for how long? In other words, how do you develop a proper retention program?

Developing the Right Program

The myriad of rules and laws dealing with records retention is a big reason many companies avoid the issue and just store everything away, or worse, make up their destruction policy as they go along.

A proper records management program includes legal research to accurately determine your records retention requirements. The right policies as well as the right storage believe are their own personal or private records, facilities are equally important. Records that are stored but not indexed properly or are inaccessible or unprotected are paths leading to trouble. Whatever reasons employees have for saving a retention schedule review needs to be sent to all department heads prior to the end of every fiscal year for approval of records for destruction or request for specific files to be saved. The list of records to be destroyed is specified per procedures and sent along with a letter to Penn Records Management. Specific files may be pulled and reboxed, while boxes that have been identified for destruction are confirmed in writing and then destroyed.

All tracking records are systematically updated and a Certificate of Destruction is issued. This procedure is only possible with the proper indexing of the files that are stored. Planned from the beginning, the indexing work allows for the organized follow-through throughout the full retention and destruction process. A sound records management program can have a positive financial impact and help maintain a good client relationship.