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RECMGMT-L  August 2004

RECMGMT-L August 2004

Subject:

Re: Retention for Private Sector Companies

From:

Mary Haider <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Records Management Program <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 20 Aug 2004 14:54:54 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (74 lines)

Laura,
You have received a lot of opinions and ideas that are very good and
appropriate in specific situations.  Some of the advice has come from
those who use retention requirements designated for government agencies
(federal, state and local); other advice has come from the private
sector.  As a private sector company you can pretty much ignore the
requirement from the government agencies because it does not apply to
you.  It may be useful information to provide a general idea, but that
is all.  When you are researching the laws make sure they apply to your
organization in terms of business function and geography.

A records inventory is essential to building a knowledge base of your
company's records.  This information helps you organize the inventory
into categories which can then be linked to retention requirements and
categories. A good inventory will also help you make other management
decisions (some of which have been listed in other posts).

However, I was in a situation similar to your where the time and human
resources did not allow for the inventory process.  I decided to focus
on those records that are common in most/all organizations and worked on
the retention research for those categories.  If your organization does
business in several states you will need to devote a substantial amount
of time to legal research.  As a one-person Records Management program I
knew that it would take months if not years to do the necessary research
for even a very basic retention schedule.

We chose to purchase Retention Manager (which was the only retention
schedule application available at that time).  By starting with the
basic categories of records we were able to scan the Legal data base
(all Federal and all 50 State laws) and determine which laws applied to
our organization (note, this simple statement implies much more than a
quick scan).  From there we solicited input from our Business Unit
managers to add the operational requirements.  We knew that we would
find exceptions as we worked with the Retention Schedule but it was a
quick start for us.  We implemented an annual review process to make the
necessary corrections and additions.  Along the way we have inventoried
records in business units that have unique records series and have added
them.

I had visions of planning and implementing a new Records Management
program based on the textbook.  But I learned very quickly that I needed
to align my business plan with that of the organization.  The key is
implementing very good retention analysis to functional (not
departmental) categories and then applying to the records series where
you find them.  As a result we were able to implement very successful
clean-out days before the company move.  We met the company goal and
established a solid baseline for our Records Management program..

The moral to this story is that all business units - including Records
Management - must be in alignment with company goals.  That means
understanding the basic principles of your business unit (i.e. RIM) so
you can be flexible and creative, and succeed within the parameters of
your organization.

I suggest that you sort through all the advice you have received and
develop a workable plan for creating your company's Records Retention
Schedule.  Don't work on individual records categories in a piece-meal
fashion.  By working on the schedule as a whole you will begin to
recognize similarities and striking differences in records categories
and the laws.  Your end product will be unique to your organization; and
you will be a valuable resource to your organization.
Good luck,
Mary



God Bless America
Mary W. Haider, Records Manager
W.W. Grainger, Inc.
Mailstop B4.T46
847-535-1560

List archives at http://lists.ufl.edu/archives/recmgmt-l.html
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