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Retention Rules the FAQ

The most frequently asked question that I receive as a records management consultant is “How long should I keep this record?” We could be talking about any business record in your office, with its own unique combination of legal, administrative, regulatory, and business requirements. It would be great if I could dole out an officious “2 years” or “7 years” on demand, but my reticent reply disappoints every time.

My answer is that I do not have a ready answer to retention questions. Even the standard “seven years” on financial records may be too long or too short in your case. If I am given adequate research time, then I can make a retention recommendation based on information about your business, but my answers include a caveat that only the records management stakeholders in your business—not to mention your attorneys and tax advisors—can accurately and completely answer retention questions about your records and information.

For records managers looking for more specific guidance, a retention management system can be a valuable resource for managing recordkeeping requirements and legal citations. Following are highlights of a few retention management systems, with both subscription-based and software package solutions.

A well-established system is available from the Information Requirements Clearinghouse, a retention and legal research provider since 1984. IRM President Donald Skupsky JD, CRM, FAI, is an award-winning member of the RM community and creator of the only nationally recognized Retention Schedule development system, according to the IRM website.

Another strong contender in the retention management field is Zasio, which added the Retention! module to its total lifecycle RM product in 1998. The latest version Versatile Retention 8 includes over 25,000 citations. State and federal laws and regulations are included, with capabilities for adding local and industry-specific citations.

Written by: AGriffin

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