Establishing and maintaining a comprehensive records retention schedule requires a commitment from upper management and the perseverance of a few dedicated employees. Establishing a retention schedule can deliver a significant return on investment. Once established and implemented, the retention schedule can help reduce costs, limit liability, and make the overall records management program more efficient. Some of the major advantages of establishing a record retention schedule are outlined below:
1. Protect your company or organization from liability.
If your records become the subject of litigation, an established retention schedule can protect your company. Records which are disposed of following the published retention guidelines would rarely, if ever, be questioned in legal proceedings or third-party review.
2. Demonstrate your compliance with legal requirements.
Establishing a retention policy requires each record series to be considered on its own, and a time frame to be created, indicating how long a particular record series should be maintained. A written policy demonstrates that your organization is following established, legal procedures when destroying and retiring documents.
3. Improve records management efficiency/consistency.
Implementing a corporate–wide retention schedule will require the records manager to identify all of the organization’s record series. This process will provide the opportunity to identify and eliminate duplicated documentation and redundant records. This process will make the records management program more efficient and less costly.
4. More efficient use of expensive office space.
A well implemented record retention schedule can identify records which are eligible for destruction as well as records which can be sent to less expensive, offsite storage. The return on investment from destroying unneeded records and transferring semi-active and inactive records to offsite storage can produce immediate and significant cost savings.
Implementation of a comprehensive record retention schedule will reduce costs, improve efficiency, and may assist in avoiding legal liability. With a reduced volume of records, identifying and retrieving important documents will be easier when they are needed. Be sure to have your legal counsel or corporate attorney review the schedule before it becomes official policy within your organization.