Records Retention Is The Legal Cornerstone Of Every IG Program
Legal and compliance requirements are the cornerstones of corporate governance programs. Yet tracking the multitude of historical and emerging state, federal, and international laws and regulations that affect your data decisions can be a monumental task that even the most robust law departments aren’t prepared for. That’s why we strongly advise our clients to consider leveraging SaaS records retention software to keep your Risk, Compliance, and Legal staff current on the latest citation changes to these nuanced instructions. These tools empower you to defensibly destroy and cleanse costly data no longer useful to your organization.
With the right records retention tool we can decommission legacy systems, identify and refine workflows related to our information life cycle, know where our information lives, reduce risk and help our employees enjoy working with their information resources.
Records retention is first and foremost about complying with laws and regulations. However, a retention schedule, when properly developed and utilized, is not simply a tool that tells you how long you must keep (or when to destroy) your records, it is a blueprint that provides powerful insight into the information lifecycle and knowledge management capabilities of your company as a whole. It saves you money on storage and helps shape the way you curate your information enterprise-wide.
OUR RETENTION SCHEDULES:
- Serve as a primary tool for ensuring records compliance with federal, state, local laws, regulations, and business requirements
- Identify business continuity records
- Document all records categories, records formats, systems of record, retention requirements, and data classifications
- Can be updated automatically and integrate with IT infrastructure
- What documents need to be retained and for how long?
- In what cases are paper records still necessary?
- What are the sanctions for non-compliance?
- In what circumstances can/must documents be destroyed?
- Who may documents have to be handed over to?
- What is our duty to preserve?
- How can retention assist me with electronic disclosure (e-discovery) orders?
- For long do we keep records in each country my company operates in?
- Exactly how will jurisdiction-specific privacy requirements impact us?
DEVELOPING YOUR POLICY & PROCESSES – Our first step during most engagements is to begin performing the planning steps and outlining the research necessary to build our clients a defensible policy, a practical schedule and most importantly understand how that may impact-related processes.
- For larger enterprises we may begin by building a Records Retention Committee made up of representatives and stakeholders.
- For smaller organizations, we might work with your designated point of contact such as a Records Manager. Together, we build an interview schedule with your subject matter experts and record custodians to help us understand how the records they use might impact your retention periods.
- Retention schedules will identify your company’s record types, record descriptions, retention periods and triggers, state and federal regulatory citations, reflect the office and systems of record, and provide other practical information such as whether the record is historical or requires special attention.
ESTABLISHING COMPLIANCE BENCHMARKS – We will assist your Director of Records Management or designated Records Management person in compliance efforts which may include:
- A periodic regulatory and legal review of your schedule
- An annual offsite/electronic storage inventory report and process to identify records eligible for destruction
- IT System Administrator meetings to review purging opportunities for ESI based on the schedule
- Managing requests for changes to the schedule and for general guidance
- Coordinating record clean-up days
PLANNING COMMUNICATIONS & EXECUTING TRAINING – We walk our clients step-by-step through a strict yet flexible set of communications guidelines and training initiatives that make the benefits of your records retention program evident to employees up and down the chain of command. Frequently we begin our post schedule publication phase with an executive-level communication that may include:
- Notification of the policy
- Benefits of the schedule to all employees
- Notification of upcoming training(s)
- Link to records retention page/resources / FAQ’s on a corporate intranet
We build retention policies and schedules for all of our clients from which to command their program. Initial training for large enterprises often takes place over the course of 1 year (from approval) and are broken into groups:
- Corporate Wide (optional/on-boarding) – No formal meetings or training sessions. Corporate-wide training video, resources and guidance provided via email distribution, intranet and one-on-one management training
- Records Program Customers – Trained annually – Five 1 hour classroom sessions. Contact info available through the intranet
- Other Personnel – Trained annually – 1-hour classroom session. Contact info available through the intranet
- IT Staff – Trained annually – 1-hour classroom session. Contact info available through the intranet
DATA INVENTORIES AND DATA MAPS – A records inventory is a detailed listing of the volume, scope, and complexity of an organization’s records, usually compiled for the purpose of creating a records schedule. An inventory is used to analyze your records for improving access, document retention, and protection.
Process At A Glance
- Define the inventory’s goals. While the main goal is gathering information for scheduling purposes, other goals may include preparing for conversion to other media.
- Define the scope of the inventory; it should include all records and other materials.
- Obtain top management’s support, preferably in the form of a directive, and keep management and staff informed at every stage of the inventory.
- Decide on the information to be collected. For electronic records we also include:
- Name of the system
- System control number
- Agency or department/division/program supported by the system
- Purpose of the system
- Data input and sources
- Prepare an inventory form, or use an industry standard.
- Decide who will conduct the inventory and train them.
- Identify where your organization’s files are located, both physically and organizationally.
- Conduct the inventory.
- Verify and analyze the results and provide our client with the resource and tips on how to manage inventory going forward.