Records retention is a practice by which organisations maintain confidential records for set lengths of time, and then employ a system of actions to either redirect, store or dispose of them.
Records can be considered evidence of a decision or transaction that took place within your business operations, or an individual associated with your organisation, and should be kept as long as required – or for as short a period as necessary – as specified by regulatory, legal or organisation governance. Record retention is driven by a system of policies, scheduling and infrastructure that enables records managers to comply with governing regulations, laws and business best practices.
There are many benefits to keeping good records. It can help you to:
• Ensure you do not breach privacy requirements relating to individuals including customers and staff
• Know where your valuable data is, who is doing what to it and be able to protect it against cybercrime
• Keep track of key business metrics to support good business decisions
• Meet tax and superannuation obligations and manage cashflow.
An organisation that keeps information and records for longer than required is exposed to three major risks:
• Cost – the costs of maintaining, accessing and preserving information and records are significant
• Efficiency – systems work less efficiently if they contain too much information and too many records, making it harder and more time-consuming to find the information and records needed to carry out business functions
• Reputation – not disposing of information and records responsibly and on time puts organisations at risk of non-compliance, and increases the risk of inappropriate access or release.