What is records retention? Records retention is a practice through which organizations maintain confidential records of their investigations for some time and then employ a system of actions to redirect, store or dispose of them. Records can be considered proof of a decision or transaction within the investigative operations and should be kept as long as required or for as short a period as necessary by regulatory, legal, or business governance or investigators.
What Is Records Retention?
Depending on the investigative regulations or business needs, certain records may be kept longer or even stored differently than other records.
Records retention is driven by a system of policies, scheduling, and infrastructure that enable administrators to comply with governing regulations, laws, and business best practices.
There are three major components of a successful records retention strategy. These are:
A retention schedule – A system of classification that standardizes the different types of records the investigation manages and how long they need to be kept. A successful retention schedule is routinely updated to ensure that rules for records retention included in the schedule comply with all laws and regulations which pertain to them.
Retention policies – Records of retention policies govern the classification, storage, preservation, and destruction of all records of an investigation. These policies help ensure that important records are not mishandled and that temporary records are discarded promptly to reduce risk and keep the records management system clean, coordinated, and secure.
Records infrastructure – The records an organization maintains should be easy to search, retrieve and update at any time. Whether preparing for an audit, accessing client information, or making changes to important documents, having a centralized, manageable, digital records management system in place ensures that retention schedules and policies are easily and consistently followed.
Qualities of a successful records management system should include:
- Configurable security: Levels of access to specific documents or folders should be easy to manage by records administrators to aid in security for clients and businesses.
- Simple search and retrieval: Records should be accessible immediately upon request, whether by business professionals or via public portals for clients.
- Centralized storage: Whether on-premises or in the cloud, records should be organized in an intuitive, easy-to-maintain digital repository.
- Intuitive audit support: Often, it is as (or more) important to be able to demonstrate that the organization followed regulations correctly after the end of the retention period than being able to find something during it. A system that supports the auditing process can be invaluable in any organization.
- Automated records management processes: The life-cycle of any type of records should be tracked and maintained with process automation technology built into the infrastructure, resulting in seamless, transparent storage, access, archiving, and classification of any records in an organization.
Organizations must be able to rely on the accuracy and reliability of their data when it comes to data. If they are unable to do so, they risk losing a significant amount of money or going out of business. Records retention is the process of ensuring that organizations keep and store their records in a safe and secure manner for archival, data retrieval, reporting, record-keeping, and billing purposes.
The retention of records serves two purposes: legal documentation and disaster recovery. Legal documentation is typically required for lawsuits or litigation. When a company’s data center is damaged or destroyed, disaster recovery is required.