The Importance of Maintaining a Solid Retention Policy

Our records are permanent. Why don’t we ever see a Destroy Review report? Mr. Johnson won’t let go of anything. We can’t risk accidentally destroying something that shouldn’t have been destroyed. It seems that destruction costs more than just continuing to store a box.

If any of these comments sound familiar, we can probably help you better understand the importance of implementing a company-wide retention policy and schedule. Generally, only about 5% of a business organization’s records actually need to be kept forever. These include articles of incorporation, board meeting minutes, certain titles and deeds, among other things. But whether or not specific records should be destroyed is not a decision that should made by different individuals throughout the company. The length of time you are required to keep a document is actually based on the type of record it is. There are certainly industry-specific retention requirements, but these too are based on the type of document being stored.

Compliance with a company-wide retention policy means that you may actually store less paper. For example, numerous departments may be involved in the preparation and/or execution of a contract. Instead of each department keeping a copy, a retention policy will identify who actually owns the document and is required to keep it. This eliminates the expense of storing multiple copies of the same record.

Risk Management and Records Management Services

Records management is now synonymous with risk management. The cost of keeping records longer than required isn’t limited to the per box rate you pay your vendor for storage. Retaining expired documents can result in enormous costs to a company in the form of liability exposure, legal expenses and corporate reputation. For example, if you keep files beyond the defined retention policy, you must product them during the discovery process. Companies are often found culpable for actions that were entirely compliant with the rules and regulations of the day. But records kept beyond the eligible destruction date can contain information, including notes and comments, which determine the assignment of liability. The cost of not destroying records can go well beyond the cost of destroying them.

Archive Systems will partner with you to ensure compliance with your records retention policy, regardless of whether it is a simple outline or a complex schedule using records series titles and codes. What matters about your policy is that it is standard across the company and complied with by everyone who handles your organization’s records.

Our container-level Electronic Archiving Form (EAF) includes a field in which you can provide us with the destroy review date for each box you send to our records center. If you require that every box has a destroy review date, our Quality Assurance team will ensure that we have the information.

At the end of each year, we send our clients a list of the boxes that are eligible for destruction based on our records. We also provide a Destroy Review report available on our Virtual Records Center (VRC), which allows you to review records eligible for document destruction quarterly, monthly, or even daily. If necessary, destroy review dates can be edited in the VRC.

Archive Systems will not destroy a single box based on the destroy review date. Every box you want destroyed must be listed and authorized by the appropriate personnel in writing by letter or email. Once a destruction work order has been entered into our system, there is a triple validation process in place that ensures that only the boxes you have authorized will be shredded.

A good retention policy puts you on auto-pilot. The implementation of a company-wide retention policy enables you to truly manage your records.

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