- Alright, let's talk about document retention. First and foremost, we're going to want to know what is document retention, what's the definition of that term? Well, first of all our entire interaction in a business sense is run by documents. As Eric Schmidt of Google said, "Every two days now we create as much information "as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003." The volume of information usually memorialized in a document is exponentially growing.
The purpose of a document retention policy has designed some rules as to what of that information you keep, why, and for how long. So what is document retention? Document retention is the identification, storage, retrieval, and destruction of documents important to you and your business. It's looking at what documents do I generate on a day-to-day basis? Why would I want to keep those documents? How would I keep those documents? For how long and how would I retrieve them? Why have a document retention policy at all? Who cares? Well, the reason is that documents define the interactions between businesses and individuals.
They describe and memorialize the who, what, where, when, why and how of all of your interactions. For instance, they contain information about the products that you supply your vendors, your clients, your employees, your accounts receivable, your work in progress, your tax returns, your accounting records, and everything else that makes your business a success. Without having an idea as to how and why to retain those documents, that information is at risk of being lost.
Again, documents govern the relationships between individuals and businesses. Documents provide predictability because everybody knows what to expect out of a particular interaction. A contract, for instance, will tell each of the parties what they are to do and what obligations they have. For instance, I'm going to provide you with a product and you're going to pay me a certain amount in a certain time frame for that product. Documents also help you measure your progress. They preserve your intellectual property, your secret formulas as it were.
They also record your accomplishments to the extent you get awards, good customer feedback. That information is memorialized in documents and you may have a need to keep those documents for a period of time and you need to be able to identify what documents to keep, why, and for how long and how you're going to get them back should you need them in the future. A document-retention policy is a set of rules designed to help you create a historical record of your company. Again, the who, what, where, when, why and how of your business interactions over a period of time.
The document-retention policy is going to consist of a set of rules for what information or business intelligence are you going to keep? How are you going to document your workflow? It should include an organizational chart as to how are you going to store information? It should include information about where you're going to store that information. It's going to include rules about the security of that information.
Who has access to it and for how long? Lastly, it should include rules for the destruction of information. When does a document become no longer of use such that it can be destroyed?
- The golden rules of document and data retention
- Preserving knowledge, relationships, and achievements through documentation
- Federal and state requirements for retention
- Guidelines for tax records, contracts, and other documents
- Building a new policy
- Storage systems and tools to consider
By the end of the course, you'll be able to build a plan that satisfies all the requirements and also protects your company's proprietary information.
- Define document retention.
- Break down the golden rules of document management.
- Evaluate what types of documents need to be retained.
- Identify the legal requirements of document retention.
- Determine a good document retention policy.
- Distinguish an effective document retention policy.