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Why Does My Business Need A Document Retention Policy?

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

In an age where more and more companies are creating and storing their documents electronically, document retention has become more important than ever. More than 99 percent of all company documents are created and stored electronically. Each day there are 60 billion emails alone that are created and sent. It’s much easier to store electronic data than physical data, but that doesn’t mean that you should hold on to it forever.

Why To Implement A Document Retention Policy

There are several key reasons every company should create and implement a document retention policy. First, adhering to a document policy may reduce liability in the long run. It is tempting to hold on to all documents forever in the event that you may need them at some point in the future. However, the last thing that you want in a court setting is for someone to pull up an email or phone record from two decades ago and take it out of context. If you no longer have these documents, then they won’t be available to a court.

Second, implementing a document retention policy keeps document retrieval times under control. For example, if it’s company policy to hold on to documents for three years, you’ll only ever have three years of documents to go through in order to find what you need. This is particularly important in the event of litigation, as one of the most expensive parts of a case is document review.

Implementing A Document Retention Policy

Once you have a document retention policy in place, you must enforce it at all times. Educate the entire company about the policy from top level executives to hourly workers. Every employee should understand the policy as well as what will happen if they don’t follow it. Take time to review the policy on a regular basis. If it’s tough for employees to follow the policy or if there is any confusion about how often you’ll hold audits, make changes to the policy accordingly.

Finally, a critical component of document retention is document destruction. Documents that are past their retention date must be destroyed properly. In most cases, it is advisable to outsource this work. Document destruction is a substantial job, and many companies don’t have the manpower or the expertise to complete it correctly in a timely fashion. Look for a destruction service that offers multiple plans so that you can choose the one that best meets the needs of your company.

UCI offers document management services as well as on-site document and hard drive shredding in Amarillo and Lubbock. We help businesses of all sizes organize their documents and then destroy them as needed. To learn more about our document services and what we can do for your company, contact us now.