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How To Create A Document Retention Plan

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Many modern companies find themselves buried in mounds of records. Even a small start-up organization with a dozen employees can quickly become overwhelmed with piles of paperwork. It is easy to let this problem build until it reaches a critical state and then make a hasty decision about the records. Poor decision-making can threaten compliance with both legal and business requirements. As such, it’s best practice to create and implement a document retention plan.

A Step By Step Guide To Creating A Document Retention Plan

The first step is to identify official records. The criteria should cover concrete, specific guidelines that help employees make daily decisions in a timely fashion. It should also offer enough flexibility for exceptions to be made without lengthy deliberation. Employees must be able to make decisions about their official records in a matter of minutes.

Every industry has legal guidelines for the period of time that they must retain given records. As these requirements can vary for different industries and in different areas of the country, it’s key to research the guidelines carefully. Look into both state and federal record retention requirements as well as local ordinances. The document retention plan should be based around these guidelines. You want to keep documents long enough to meet the requirements without introducing privacy non-compliance, incurring excessive storage costs, or taking on other risks.

Once you’ve established the criteria for official record identification, you must develop a policy for destroying all other materials. It is critical that non-record confidential information be destroyed in a secure fashion. Do not simply pitch it in the dumpster behind your building. Train employees in these practices so that there is no confusion about how they should store or destroy given materials.

For most businesses, it doesn’t make sense to use in-house resources to shred and dispose of documents. Even if you have the manpower, your employees’ time will be better spent elsewhere. Hire experienced professionals who can dispose of the documents securely and transport them to a recycling facility safely. Many destruction companies offer multiple plans, allowing you to choose the plan that is the best fit for your organization.

Creating and implementing a document retention plan may seem like a big hassle, but it’s well worth the effort. Having established retention and destruction plans in place keeps your business in compliance with legal standards and minimizes the risk of customer security breaches.

UCI offers comprehensive document services for businesses of all sizes. Regardless of your document retention needs, we are here to help you in every way that we can. Contact us for more information.