We draft or review Records Management Policies, which are a “top level” policy that deals with the retention and destruction of business records and cross-refers to other related policies and documents which include:
- retention schedules (a listing of the records maintained by an organisation as required by law or for business purposes, together with the period of time that each series is to be maintained and by when such series may be reviewed for destruction or archival retention). Much confusion exists as to what a retention schedule should contain and the way in which it should be formatted. Many organisations make use of a document produced by Deloittes and Metrofile and are under the mistaken assumption that this document is a retention schedule. This document is not a retention schedule. It is a (very useful) listing of some of the legal retention periods that apply to business records.
- a records migration policy (to cover those situations where the technologies upon which records are dependent become obsolete and the records need to be migrated to new technology in order to ensure their continued accessibility and readability);
- records conversion policy (to cover those situations where records need to be converted from one form or format to another – i.e. scanning which is a form of analogue/paper to digital conversion otherwise known as digitisation);
- record retention and destruction procedures (to ensure that records are destroyed in a legally compliant manner – not all records are “equal” and should not be destroyed in the same way and different record characteristics such as volume, media and sensitivity classifications need to be taken into account when determining the destruction procedures and mechanisms);
- records hold policy and procedures (inter alia cover those situations where an organisation has to stop document destruction that ordinarily takes place when legal proceedings are contemplated or instituted).