What is Records Retention?


Records retention and how information is stored for what period of time is a very important part of an organisation’s document management policies. You must find way to protect your critical documents and the information contained on them. The retention periods for various documents are dictated by the needs of the organization and always measured up against what the applicable laws and regulations require.

Organisations today are electronically storing greater volumes of documents that need to be retained and protected. Retention policies specify which type of documents need to be retained and for how long. It is important for users to determine the type of document they are creating or working with and then to have visibility into the retention requirements. These requirements are usually found on the organization’s record retention schedule. These retention policies must be strictly followed to allow for compliance and risk mitigation, but at the same time providing access to the documents and information needed to accomplish the mission of the organisation. Tax information, accounting documents, human resource files, contracts, and medical records are all examples of records that have specific record retention periods.


  • Standardisation and more reliability as a result of it
  • Improved employee productivity through access to the right information
  • Quicker retrieval and storage of records
  • Reduced risk of non compliance with applicable laws and regulation
  • Mitigated risk of having documents beyond their required retention period


Document Management Solutions are critical in the development and successful implementation of these strategies. They allow you to first organize all of your critical documents into a single solution. Since these systems are database driven a number of dates and events can be tagged and later reported on. As an example, when specific types of documents are saved to the system you can date stamp the origination date of the document and then apply a rule that is configured within the system to flag an archiving or destruction date. When this disposition date is reached in the future the configured action automatically occurs. Also, since we now who the originator of the document was, its’ origination date, and disposition date we can report on all of this as well as which rule was applied from the retention policy to initiate the action.

The application of a records retention strategy without the assistance of a Document Management Solution is labor intensive, prone to error, and difficult to manage.