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Records Management: Beware, Prepare

November 11, 2008

Records Management: Beware, Prepare

KMWorld, November 3, 2008

Countrywide Financial, Bank of New York Mellon and Best Western all announced in August that they had been victims of data breaches. In the wake of these high profile security breaches, records management experts suggest paying better attention to what types of electronic documents are saved and tossed. Having a well-defined record retention strategy will not only help eliminate the retention of unnecessary (and sometimes sensitive) records, but also better prepare your organization to meet future electronic disclosure requests.

“’Companies tend to store a lot more information than is required,’ says James C. Bourke, partner with the law firm of WithumSmith+Brown. When companies first shifted to electronic records from paper ones, they tended to store everything. While that may be appropriate for some records, others are unnecessary after a few years. Most firms keep too much information rather than too little, Bourke adds.”

So how do you know what to save, how long to save it and how to properly store it in between? We’ve included a few record retention tips below from various industry experts, but take a look at this article for a complete analysis. While there are many opinions to take into account, think about your own company’s culture and apply the suggestions as you see fit. Think also about your company’s need to protect the integrity of those records while they are being retained. Will you need to be able to prove their authenticity for regulatory compliance down the road? Do your company’s records contain critical intellectual property information? These questions all need to be part of the conversation when determining your approach to retention and data integrity. If you yourself have a good routine already in place, take a minute and tell us about it.

  • Develop record retention policies that are unique to your own business.
  • Keep audit reports, financial statements, capital stock and bond records, property appraisals, patents, labor contracts and appraisals on hands at all times; only keep budgets and projections, internal reports, memos, work orders and freight bills for only a couple years.
  • Recruit a risk officer when developing records retention rules to better disperse responsibilities.
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