Documents Retention Schedule: The Cornerstone Of Records Management System

Document retention is the process of effective record management that defines the legal and evidentiary record preservation system of an organization. As a schedule, it provides the precise record retention periods for every type of data and document based on State regulations, organizational requirements and guidance opinions. A dynamic document retention policy may help the organization to improve the efficiency and productivity of operational activities and minimize the storage and maintenance cost. It allows keeping the important records at a specific place and remaining are not allowed to employ precious storage resources.

Any organization implements a document retention schedule to make sure that every record is preserved as long as operationally required and then outdated documents are disposed of in an organized way. It captures all the important accounts, records, day to day documents created and used by the organization anywhere in its course of operations and guides the time period of retention of each record. These documents are categorized into mainly two important parts — first is regular working records like invoices, revenue and expense accounts, bank statements or personnel records. And another one is Annual statements or records like balance sheet, income tax returns, all general ledgers, fixed assets records or patent and legal statements.

Retention schedule needs to be developed in a prescribed manner, as it is the most important part of a business management strategy. It consists of some crucial stages that are mentioned below:

Building of functional clarifications
A retention schedule acts as a legal power of an organization that dictates the description of records, time period of retention and medium used to preserve data.

Legal requirement
A dynamic schedule should reflect the existence of legal and operational value of every record. It should be properly documented and maintained on a specific file that includes the legal justification for retention periods. In most scenarios, it should be advisable to retain all the documents for at least six years.

Operational requirements
It indicates setting up of records and accounts that will specify the type of account being preserved, whether in hardcopy or in e-media. The operational stage consist of categorization of records, i.e., grouping of accounts and documents which supports similar process and stage of authority and are related to operational requirements. Each group stage consists of description of documents preserved and list of records fall under that group. It emphasizes on overall utilization of all the resources efficiently and effectively.

Approval of schedule
After evaluation of the file tracking systems, offsite storage manner and use of e-storage media, the next step is to ensure that the retention schedule meets all appropriate legal and operational requirements. A beta-testing might also be conducted to ensure that all set functions work together seamlessly and effectively without creating any hitches in day to day operations.

After crossing all the stages of record management strategy, finally the document retention policy template should be implemented dynamically for all business units. Managers of all units should ensure a frequent and smooth communication chain for the parameters of implementation and management of retention schedule as well as record management.

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About The Author

Sarah Jones is an expert on business data management and records maintenance who also likes to write many interesting articles and blogs, helping enterprises in coming up with the best business record retention schedule and document preservation guidelines. She recommends as the best source of information on the subject.

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