Don't Keep Everything - Eliminating the Risk from Records Management

Increasing pressure of regulations relating to document management and information storage has led to the creation of the myth that keeping everything is safer. What businesses fail to realise is that there is unnecessary cost associated with storing documents indefinitely and in fact an even greater risk of non-compliance by storing documents too long. Over-retention could increase your organisation's legal risk as data could be pulled out of context and create the impression it is not accurate. Here is a checklist to ensure you are not at risk of non-compliance:

Is your records retention schedule updated?
Businesses often do not have a records retention schedule. If they do, it's rarely updated. However, it’s very important that as business changes and regulations change, the records management schedule should be updated to reflect these changes.

To keep or not to keep - declare records
Businesses retain all documents only when they are unable to decide which documents to keep and which to destroy. In a good records management programme, records are kept for a reason ... to record the transactions of a company. Records should always be described in detail using key words, phrases and records codes which identify the type and subject of the record.

For how long?
There are many laws and regulations regarding how long to keep specific records. It is a corporate decision to keep the number of records retention periods down to a realistic few. As these regulations become more complex, best practice is to establish buckets to differentiate which documents need keeping and for how long, and to strictly ensure that each bucket is audited before its expiry date.

Records retention white paper Download the Records Retention guidelines

Retention schedule applies to all records, not just paper
Having a simple and universal records retention schedule for all documents whether paper or electronic makes sure information is not fragmented and there is one organisation-wide schedule.

Having a unified retention schedule
If each department is charged with developing its own records retention schedule and records management programme, it can spell disaster as each department retains the same categories of records for different periods and causes confusion within the company. Be sure that the records management programme is managed by one office with knowledgeable staff.

Identify the office of record
The office of record should always be identified on the retention schedule. This helps other workers when going through their records to understand if they are the owner of the record or if some other department is. Additionally, this leaves little, if any, doubt about who should be keeping what records.

Document management solutions can make implementation of a consistent, organisation-wide records management policy easy by enforcing procedures and automating document driven workflows. DCS document management solutions can be customised to meet your records management needs with flexibility to handle as few or as many buckets of records as required.

Need help in designing your records management strategy? Get advice from one of our compliance experts by calling 01753 616720 or send an enquiry using our Contact Form.

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