What Is Records Retention: Why It Is A Must For Organizations

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The complete guide covers records retention definition, schedule, and its importance to organizations.

Records Retention Definition

Records retention refers to methods and practices organizations use to maintain the important information for a required period of time for administrative, financial, legal, and historical purposes.

It applies to records in different formats including paper, email, and other digital documents such as word documents, spreadsheets, scanned papers, videos. A record is considered as an evidence of certain events took place within an organization such as purchase order, contract approval, or correspondence.

Records retention

The duration of time (retention period) specifies how long records should be retained before they are destroyed. Organizations usually define the retention period based on multiple factors such as the nature of the business documents, industry regulations, or business needs. Other information is defined by laws and regulations.

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The retention period is usually declared via well-defined policies and schedules. Organizations need to have a well-established and routinely updated retention schedule to ensure that information is retained as long as it is operationally and legally needed and other information is disposed of systematically.

Using an RM system or a DMS will help your organization control the creation, declaration, classification, retention, and destruction of business information. That will firmly result in improved compliance and minimize litigation risk.

Check out this fully detailed article covering the difference between document management and records management

Records Retention Schedule

The retention schedule is the core foundation of an effective records management initiative. The purpose of a retention schedule is to define how different types of records are managed. In addition to how long they should be kept to comply with different laws and regulations requirements.

A well-established and routinely updated retention schedule is crucial. An organization-wide management strategy will eliminate fines and penalties by ensuring full compliance with laws and regulations.

Records Retention Schedule

The Importance Of Records Retention Schedule

By having a universal retention schedule for all business units, organizations can

  • Reduce Storage & Operational Cost: Maintaining an enormous number of records requires time, money, and labor. A properly executed schedule will help organizations save money on physical storage by controlling the growth of data volume. Also, it will help improving accessibility & reachability.
  • Reduce Litigation Risks: Keeping information for more than it is legally stated or destroying documents that should be available for a definite time will surely expose your organization to different types of fines, penalties, or other legal consequences.
  • Improved Security: Protecting information that is critical to business operations is extremely important. It will minimize data leakage and make sure information is available if need be.

The Importance Of Automating Records Retention

Depending on industry regulations and business needs, organizations must have a flexible system to configure the retention period based on a predefined schedule. Having a system to automatically manage the disposal of records will help in

  1. Reduced Human Errors: When we automate human processes, the business operations will run more effectively and with less error-prone. In case of retention & disposition, automating the disposal of records based on the schedule defined in your organization will make sure that no expired information retain.
  2. Increased Employees Productivity: Less manual & repetitive tasks will help your employees focus on more crucial projects. That will surely improve their morals & increasing office efficiency.
  3. Improved Compliance: Using a system to automate the disposal of electronic records will surely improve compliance with different regulations requirements. Organizations need to verify that only information that needs to be retained is available.

Benefits Of Using A Digital System For Records Retention

Organization should adopt a system to handle their electronic records lifecycle to achieve the following

Dynamic Schedule Based On Classifications

The system should be able to allow to set retention period based on their classifications.

Classifying information associated with legal and operational retention requirements and setting their retention periods will allow you to define the retention schedules to comply with your current rules and regulations.

Audit Trail

Powerful RM or ECM solutions should give the ability to monitor records throughout their lifecycle. In that case, employees will be able to get insights about their information, status, retention periods, and even assigned disposition dates.

Automated Disposition

The system should automatically be able to either dispose of or archive records based on their schedule. This automated process is essential for reducing human error-prone thus reducing the risk of non-compliance.

Conclusion

Every organization should have a well-defined and routinely updated retention schedule. That is extremely essential to be fully compliant with different laws and regulations which will result in cost reduction and increased employee productivity.

What is Records Retention?

It refers to methods and practices organizations use to maintain important information for a required period of time for administrative, financial, legal, and historical purposes.

How long should you retain records and documents?

The retention period is usually declared via well defined policies and schedule. It is very important for organizations to have a well established and routinely updated retention schedule to ensure that information are retained as long as it is operationally and legally needed and other information are disposed in a systematic manner.

What is the purpose of record retention?

A well established and routinely updated retention schedule is extremely important. An organization-wide management strategy will eliminate fines and penalties by ensuring full compliance with laws and regulations.

What is record retention period?

The duration of time aka retention period specifies for how long records should be kept before they are destroyed.

4 comments

  1. I like your Article. I was involved in Local Government Retention, Disposal and Preservation for 17 years. I really enjoyed my job. Thank you for posting this article to show how important Records Retention is for any organisation.

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