[Records Retention refers to] the practice of maintaining records for an organization from the time they are created to the time of their disposal. (source: Wikipedia)
That last bit is the tricky part; every day at most corporations eMails, spreadsheets, and presentations (collectively: “stuff”) are created, shared, and printed – along with all of the financial and transactional records issuing from the various ERP / accounting systems. Creating stuff is easy – but are we rigorous enough in the “end of life” phase, when documents that should be destroyed are in fact destroyed?
There is potential risk in the growing pile of stuff – which is why companies implement Records Retention policies that specify what documents are to be retained, for how long – and mandate which documents must be destroyed after a certain period.
Implementing a comprehensive Records Retention policy is not an easy task – these projects often generate significant organizational change issues (as well as a lot of expense). Over the past few months, I have found myself drawn into these conversations with a number of IT professionals in my personal network; as a result, I thought it might be interesting to conduct some loosely structured “market research” to collect some thoughts on the issue.
Some interesting sound bites in the final report …
- Some companies approach from the opposite direction, implementing archiving systems to automatically archive a copy of everything sent or received; it guarantees that no emails are ever lost
- Most companies see this as an eMail storage management issue only; the vast majority allow PSTs, which are a significant hassle for eDiscovery
- Training on document retention comes from a variety of functional areas: IT, HR, Finance, Legal …
- One company assumes that eMail backups are done solely for the purpose of potential eDiscovery – so the Legal Department pays for the tapes and the storage
Download the document and take a look.
NB: This version of the document [subtitled Bootstrap Market Research] has had identifying information removed from the source data, and has been circulated with the surveyed companies and posted here.
If you care to add some information, I’ll thank you in advance, and add it (sufficiently anonymized) to this summary results document; the Last Update: date in upper right corner of each page is your indication of freshness (compare to the date on the web page).