Inside TDV - The Data Vault Blog
Records and Resolutions
During these final winter months, we dutifully focus on goals to improve everything from health and finances to recordkeeping and organization. The power of our current resolve makes it unthinkable that in a few months, most New Year’s resolutions will be tucked away to await their next season, but so it goes. The trick is to advance your goals as far as possible with the energy and resources that are available right now. Start with small, specific steps, and leave room for later progress. If your organization has resolved to get serious about records management this year, begin with a couple of the most basic RM questions: What should we keep, and how long should we keep it?
Know your recordkeeping obligations.
Unless you have a legal team tasked to document this knowledge, it may not be realistic for anyone in your organization to research the untold volumes of federal, state and local codes and administrative regulations that apply to your business. However, government and regulatory agencies offer guidance without the legalese:
- Review resources from the agencies and organizations that govern your business. For example, SBA / Business.Gov, a federal government website, offers state and local business guides with links to recordkeeping pages from the Department of Labor and IRS websites. For other examples, see the regulation compilations provided by the KY Labor Cabinet and the IN State Board of Health Facility Administrators.
- Organizations for industries as varied as Human Resources and Home Builders offer guidance for business operations. Also, ARMA, PRISM and AIIM are organizations for information and records management professionals.
- When you locate records management requirements in secondary sources, follow up with a review of the primary source. KRS / KAR, Indiana Code, CFR and the Tax Code offer online versions, which are much more navigable by citation than keyword.
Consider the “Big Bucket Approach” to retention policies.
In short, this approach reduces the number of categories, also called record series, found in traditional retention schedules. When considered in light of the outdated, unwieldy categories found in many schedules—or in the absence of any schedule at all—the “big bucket” has reasonable appeal. As long as legal, administrative and research requirements of records are adequately addressed, the level of specificity for categories is a matter of preference. Julie J. Colgan, Director of Records & Information Management at Nexsen Pruet, LLC, recently published an interesting – if oddly titled – article that recommends the “big bucket” approach as an alternative to the near impossibility of maintaining granular retention schedules: http://ow.ly/3OhPt.
RM programs almost always leave room for improvement. However, if your retention policies are up-to-date, your organization will be ready for defensible disposition of records in time for spring cleaning.
Recordkeeping Recommendation of the Week
An attorney and/or tax professional should review your retention policies to ensure that legal retention requirements are met. Regular policy reviews help correct errors based on outdated or incorrect research and documentation.
Written by: AGriffin