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The development of a document retention strategy is the first phase of transferring a paper-based system to a digital one. Document retention is the primary goal of document management system, and developing a sound system early will save IT managers a headache later on.
Defining a Record
Begin developing a document retention strategy by defining what constitutes a record and the standards it must adhere to. Create basic retention criteria that cover the following:
- Regulatory implications. If a document is required on file for audit, legal or compliance purposes, it is a retainable record.
- Contractual implications. If a document holds evidentiary or reference value, or is the sole copy, it is a retainable record.
- Include electronic records. Under all compliance and legal codes, electronic documents (e.g. e-mails, Web pages, and instant messaging) are admissible in a court of law. Ensure digital documents are also considered as potential retainable records. For more detailed information on electronic records, refer to the Mclean Report research note, “IT Leaders: Learn the Laws Covering E-Mail Retention.”