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Dispelling Myths about Document Retention

Folders with the label Regulations and Guidelines
Proper document retention is essential to business success. But unfortunately there are commonly-held misconceptions on how and when to retain files. We’ve outlined three myths about document retention so you can improve your methods for handling and managing your business information.

Retention documents must be stored on-site

Business owners are known for their “can-do” attitude. But persistence and determination can be a detriment to sound document retention practices. When it comes to storing and managing documents, the thinking often goes something like this:

  • “I know where everything is.”
  • “It’s safe.”
  • “I can manage my information.”

Even for the most adamant control freak there are going to be times when he can’t find a document. The reality is that files get misplaced all the time. Each time it happens, the current task falls by the wayside and workflow is interrupted. File retrieval, even at its smoothest, takes time. Being able to continuously track and monitor the flow of documents helps improve all of your business processes. But in order to do so, your business retention inventory needs to be properly managed in a way that doesn’t cause you to ignore something equally important.

Everyone likes to think of their business as safe and secure. Yet every organization is susceptible to risks, especially when it comes to paper documents. A fire, flood or natural disaster can lead to permanent loss of critical business information. Having an off-site location where you can confidentially store retention document strengthens your disaster recovery capabilities and protects your entire business.

Hold on to it just in case

If you’ve ever been audited and weren’t able to produce a document, you know how stressful that can be. But holding on to documents longer than necessary can also get you into trouble. Records that have exceeded required retention periods may complicate litigation proceedings and create a legal nightmare. And an auditor isn’t going to be too happy if she has to wade through documents that should have been securely disposed of a long time ago.

There’s also the issue of disorganization. The more documents you hold on to the more likely your office is going to become cramped and cluttered. This can have a serious impact on overall business productivity.

Documents that should have already been destroyed are also likely to contain confidential information. The longer these records are kept, the more identity theft and business fraud exposure you’re assuming. A box of documents containing personal information that has been sitting for years may have already been opened and riffled through—and you would never know it.

One retention policy is all you need

Having one retention policy may work for a small business, but for larger organizations retention guidelines have to fit corporate compliance guidelines. Individual business units may need to set their own retention guidelines—after all, they are experts when it comes to their own documents. This doesn’t mean that retention guidelines shouldn’t be coordinated across your enterprise; it’s still important that your company complies with any regulations affecting your entire organization.

If you need retention management assistance for your business, we can help. Richards & Richards provides businesses throughout Nashville with records and information management solutions. For more information please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.

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