Document Retention Policies Help Businesses Avoid Non-Compliance

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Legal and regulatory compliance has an impact on most business processes, and it plays a key role in document retention. A single lost file or one that is not able to be retrieved within an acceptable timeframe can result in millions of dollars of fines. For the same reason, privacy protection also has to be integrated into a document retention program.

Creating and controlling information

Information, both electronic and hardcopy, is constantly created within companies. Without a policy which outlines how records are organized, stored and destroyed, compliance requirements cannot be met. Therefore, everyone within your organization should have a clear understanding of the designation and value of any created document. Lifecycle timeframes may vary depending on:

  •   legal statutes
  •   industry requirements
  •   internal audit requirements

Yet, not all documents fit into easy retention categories. When in doubt as to how long to keep and maintain a record, it is wise to consult with your attorney or accountant. Once retention guidelines have been confirmed and established, they should be made readily available to everyone in your organization for easy reference. Any document created within the scope of your retention policy may include the following information:

  • date the record was created
  • who created the record
  • destruction date

Disposing of expired retention documents

With outdated or unmonitored document retention policies, paper records may be kept longer than required, posing a legal liability and discovery risks. Ironically, retaining information for too long may result in the same consequences as disposing of records too early. Scheduled purges of outdated information are essential to your document retention policy. In order to maintain privacy protection during disposal, processes and controls should be followed in accordance with professional document destruction best practices.

Securing and preserving archival and vital records

Retention documents can quickly take up space within your office and lead to disorganization. It’s not uncommon for archival files to be mixed in with active files, making an attempt to find any document a chore. How you store your records is an important piece of your document retention policy. Your files should be secured from unauthorized access and protected from disaster, yet accessible enough to support legal and business requirements.

Documents that are accessed and shared on a regular basis may benefit from a document scanning solution. Electronic files reduce physical storage space needs, enable information to be shared digitally, and streamline workflow processes.

Any files not considered integral to daily business processes should be moved off-site to a secure location. Similarly, historical documents or records critical to the viability of your business should also be stored off-site. These vital records may include:

  • contracts and agreements
  • personnel records
  • legal documents
  • tax files
  • shareholder documents

By engaging a professional records storage service, you can ensure that archival retention documents are able to be preserved in an optimal environment and also reduce the risk of permanent loss from a theft or a natural disaster. Additionally, specific retention data can be organized, tracked, managed and modified within a records and information management database.

Docu-Dépôt provides records and information management solutions to businesses throughout Montréal and Québec. To find out more, please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.

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