A Records Retention Schedule is a document that makes sure that records are kept only as long as needed for legal and operational reasons, and that the documents are properly disposed of when no longer needed. This document supports the organization and its efforts to manage records, control costs of storage, locate and retrieve documents, and dispose of records at the appropriate time. Finally, this document enables a company to be legally compliant of retention periods. The Records Retention Schedule represents all records, no matter their format or media type. The development of this document can be broken into four sections:
Identify Record Groupings A records inventory is a complete and accurate listing of the locations and contents of all records. This inventory should cover all departments and systems. This inventory will be the basis for the retention schedule. Your inventory should group records into categories or classes. When grouping records, it is critical to use the same nomenclature to ensure consistency.
Create One Classification Scheme A classification scheme for records is a grouping or records by function, class, and type as a way to deal with high volumes of records. One way to think about this is to assign your records to a department, their role within that department, and more specifically what the file contains.
Discover Legal Requirements An essential part of creating the Records Retention Schedule is conducting the research to determine what the legal retention period for each record class is. At a minimum, these types of legal requirements must be considered and evaluated:
Overlay Operational Requirements One important part of retention is the legal requirements, but the length of time that a record must be kept in order to meet departmental needs must also be considered. When comparing this operational retention period to the legal retention period, the final length should be the longer of the two requirements.
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