So, you want to have the right documents on file at the right times? Applaud yourself – you are on your way to creating a record retention schedule. Whether you plan to implement it for business or personal use, it is an important step toward organization and security. Developing a schedule may seem overwhelming, but the logistics will come easily if you do a few major things correctly.
Before you craft the most impressive schedule to ever be created by a human, you need to understand what exactly it is you’re scheduling. This sounds obvious, but every record is different and must be handled accordingly. Your first task is to research the legal importance and life-span of your records. In other words, learn why each of your documents needs to be retained and for how long they are required to be retained. In some cases, this will be up to you. There may not be a legal requirement or recommendation on retention, but it will still benefit you to keep the record on file. Do your research. Get a team together. Get it done however you like, but just remember: messing up on this step will make the rest of the process benign.
Once you understand the legalities surrounding your records, the next step is to sort and plan. While record retention schedules are best implemented sooner rather than later, when documents haven’t had years to cumulate, many realize they need a schedule a little late in the game. This is just fine. It is the perfect time to sort through files, toss the obsolete ones, and free up more space for future records.
Documents should be sorted in the most retrievable and efficient way for your purposes. When sorting, keep in mind the type of document, its longevity, and any other corresponding specifications. Depending on the size of your business or company, you may decide to delegate records into departments and sub-departments, assigning one person to be in charge of each area for the next year or so.
Now that your records are sorted and assigned, you must make a plan. Determine how you’re going to keep up with your records and train others to do the same if necessary. Check in on your records from time to time, but make sure to set a date once a year when the records will be reviewed and re-sorted. Commit to this date within your business or home.
Creating a record retention schedule will not only help protect you from legal risks, but it will also make navigating your files much easier. Research, planning, and action go a long way. Downtown Storage specializes in document management, so if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact our facility.