Best practices for creating an effective record retention schedule

With privacy rules sometimes at odds with retention obligations, creating and maintaining a data retention schedule has become more difficult.  

In order to navigate that dilemma, it’s more crucial than ever to have a thoroughly reviewed documented data retention schedule that you may use to support the retention or destruction of any specific records.  

The best practices for document retention policies, retention schedules, current challenges with updating them, and how contemporary solutions might permit a definite return on investment will all be briefly covered in this piece. 

What does a schedule for keeping records contain? 

A tested retention schedule is the foundation of any defendable records and information management program. It concerns how long a record is kept for, where it is stored, and how it is preserved.  

Best practices for record retention state that a thorough retention schedule must include at least these items:   

  • Official record owner: The name of the office, department, or business unit that generated or is now in possession of the relevant record(s) is referred to as the official record owner. 
  • Record inventory: A records inventory gives a detailed account of all the records that your department or organisation creates, gathers, stores, and manages. 
  • Disposal action: This section describes what happens to records after their lifecycle has come to an end. It will be necessary to shred or destroy a lot of documents. Other records, however, might need to be moved, reviewed later, or kept offsite indefinitely. 
  • Retention period: The least amount of time that a record or group of records must be kept before being disposed of is known as the retention period. This time frame is frequently expressed in terms of months or years, but it may also be dependent on other occurrences, such as the termination of a contract or the conclusion of a project. 
  • Disposal trigger event: Usually, this is when the document expires its retention period, however it may differ based on the record type or whether it is being kept for auditing or litigation. 

Best Practices for Document Retention: Making or Modifying a Retention Schedule 

There isn’t much difference in the amount of work needed if your organisation wants to update a current retention schedule or develop one from new. Research is the first step in creating or updating a retention schedule. That entails comprehending the subsequent enquiries: 

  • Which current laws are we bound by?  
  • What new laws were just passed that we will now be subject to?  
  • What laws and regulations by nation or state are we bound by?  
  • What potential new laws do we need to take into account? 

You’ll see that the responses to three of those four questions are not fixed; rather, they will vary and develop over time.  

Making a retention timetable is like to playing a sport when the rules are always changing. To put this into context, the Virgo database from ZircoDATA’s software solution has retention guidelines for 140+ nations and more than 220k citations, but it’s always expanding and changing. 

Keeping up with change and having the means to act when necessary are issues that many organisations face.  

Records retention schedules present a number of difficulties and complexities 

Maintaining or modifying a retention schedule is now more difficult than ever because of the present emphasis on privacy and the expansion of privacy legislation around the world. 

The sophistication required for organisations to adhere to retention and disposition requirements has also increased. Defensibility is necessary due to the possibility of litigation, discovery, audits, and investigations. When it comes to compliance, the stakes are very high. Document retention best practices must be implemented and supported by action, not simply lip service. 

For this reason, businesses require a retention schedule they may use as support if they ever have to defend the deletion or retention of a record.  

Making a Case for Purchasing a Retention Schedule Solution 

The amount of time, effort, and energy required to comprehend the criteria that apply to a certain organisation is tremendous. These standards must be manually tracked, which costs a lot of money and effort to complete. Building a business case for investing in a retention schedule automation solution like Virgo by ZircoDATA comes down to a few key points. 

Features of a platform for Effective Records Retention Scheduling That Follows Record Retention Best Practices 

If you want to use technology to build, manage, or update a retention schedule, that technology solution should be able to achieve the following:   

  • Give a single source of the truth for retention and privacy  
  • Allow your organisation to adhere to the recommended annual updating schedule.  
  • e-discovery, policy audits, and justifiable destruction be defended legally  
  • List the information that needs to be protected.  
  • include the needs for privacy  
  • Regardless of the record’s medium, disregard it 

In conclusion 

The process doesn’t end after creating a schedule and implementing recommended record retention procedures. Another is maintaining compliance in the face of ongoing changes. A retention schedule needs to be updated frequently because new laws are issued every day. 

Are these modifications a minor correction, an explanation, or a substantial alteration? When you get to a certain scale, it becomes too expensive for a team to keep track of everything.