Records Retention Management Policies – 5 things to consider

Records Retention Management is a powerful tool

Fiona Mulvaney – Waterford Technologies

It helps you to deal with regulatory agencies effectively and avoid potential future unnecessary litigation.  Having a records retention policy will answer all regulatory questions and will save you from havingRecords Retention to answer difficult questions when you are under pressure.  Here are 5 things to help you get started covering the technical side such as file archiving and email archiving and also the human side – not everything has a technical solution!

1. Catalogue all of the storage resources that you have? 

Like every company your company has multiple sources of data storage, whether they are servers, personal computers, tablets or other mobile devices.  If you don’t have an inventory of all possible data storage devices, now is as good a time as any to start collating this information, otherwise you could have information/data stored that you don’t know about which could cause issues in a regulatory context.  Its best to know about these possibilities in advance, forewarned is forearmed.  The use of Storage Resource Management (SRM) Tools could help.

2. Do I know what information is stored on my servers?

Do you know what is/could be stored on each of these devices.  Are their data management policies or email management policies in place to dictate to employees about what they can/should store on these devices or on company storage.  All of the data stored on these devices is open to scrutiny in the event of a regulatory (health and safety, financial, freedom of information requests or any other regulatory authority) investigation.  Having a policy in place at least give some level of comfort that your employees know what they should be storing.

3. What are the costs of storing this information?

Just because we can store information doesn’t mean it is a good idea. Storage may be cheap, but the cost of managing (new servers, backup times, offsite data storage, cloud costs etc,.) ever increasing mountains of data will continue growing as long as your organisation stays in business.  One of the ways of reducing the cost of data storage is to implement a file archiving solution to minimise the amount of space that files which are rarely used occupies.

4. What are the costs of not storing this information – why and how long should I hold information for?
In many instances there are regulatory requirements for the storage of data and it is a good idea to delete/retire data that is no longer required for regulatory purposes as this data is occupying space and consuming resources even though it is not required and is a potential liability to your business.  In the old days of paper, many businesses destroyed paper once it came to the end of its useful life, but because we can’t physically see the space that data takes up vs the same volume of data, we don’t see the need to get rid of it.  Is this a good enough reason not to get rid of the data? A good data deletion policy can save hard cash now and prevent future headaches.

5. Educate your staff

To implement a successful records retention policy, there are lots of tools such as email archiving, file archiving and cataloguing tools, but the foundation of a good policy is letting your staff know what is and is not OK to store and the way in which the technical tools will work to manage their data (at least insofar as it impacts their job).  Once you have a policy in place organise appropriate training – it will save you time and money in the long run.

See how you can start retaining records efficiently Today!