Top 3 Requirements of Document Retention

By Elizabeth George
November 14, 2016
3 min read
Top 3 Methods of Document Retention

Summary: Create a document retention strategy for your organization using these top 3 requirements which include; defining a retention policy, keeping documents relevant, and maintaining records.

A document retention plan is one of the top requirements for any organization. Your employees are constantly finding, editing, and revising documents so taking control of document retention is crucial to ensure your organization runs smoothly. Your intranet can help you with your document management goals using tools such as Document Read and Agree, Document Versioning, and more.

Before you get started on document retention, make sure your documents are of value. Your intranet can accumulate a lot of unnecessary information so review your content to ensure they meet the following 5 key principles of content management:

  1. Organize to survive
  2. Review to pull through
  3. Rate to appreciate
  4. Delegate to automate
  5. Archive to stay alive

So, how can your intranet help you retain the documents you need without them growing stale, becoming irrelevant, or winding up lost? Below are 3 methods of document retention every organization should consider when implementing a document management plan:

Define a Document Retention Policy

The definition of a document retention policy is:

The retention period of information is an aspect of records and information management (RIM) and the records life cycle. It identifies the duration of time for which the information should be maintained or “retained”, irrespective of format (paper, electronic, or other).

Your document retention schedule should balance a document’s usefulness with its legal requirements. Once you’ve determined a retention schedule that works for your organization, have a removal schedule in place for those documents to reduce risks associated with misinformation. Your intranet is a great place to start with tools such as Archiving Clean-Up.

There are a variety of common documents, both online and on paper, that follow certain document retention schedules, such as:

  • Contracts – 6 Years
  • General Correspondence – 6 Years
  • Mortgages and note agreements – 6 Years
  • Auditors Reports – Permanent
  • Bank Debt Deduction – 7 Years
  • Reconciliations – 4 Years
  • Accident Reports – 6 Years

Keep Documents Fresh and Relevant

To ensure your document retention strategy is successful, you’ll need strong document review procedures. This is your intranet’s time to shine as it contains time-saving tools. Assign content review managers (such as the head of a department) to keep content up-to-date and relevant. Turn on content approval workflows to make sure all published documents on your intranet have gone through proper approval channels.

Concerned your documents might not be relevant? Allow employees to provide feedback on your content with commenting and rating. Additionally, enable scheduled reviews that automatically alert authors if it’s time to review and update files.

Maintain Document Records

Determining which documents employees have read and agreed to, and if you have displayed the latest version, comes down to maintaining clear document records. There are two useful intranet tools that can help you keep your documents audit-ready:

  • Document Read and Agree: Notify employees that a new policy, procedure, or other document has been published that requires employees read and agree confirmation. To ensure no policy, procedure or document goes unread, intranet admins can set multiple reminders that a specific action needs to be taken. View all employee confirmations in one central dashboard and pull key reports. A visual report of users who haven’t yet read and agreed helps organize records.
  • Document and Policy Versioning: Check out a document from your intranet, make edits (such as policy updates), and check the document back in to provide the most up-to-date documents for your employees. The full list of versions is accessible PLUS a record of employees who have read and agreed to a specific version of a document will be available. This ensures employees have confirmed the most up-to-date version.

Quick Tip: Already have an intranet full of valuable documents you want to keep? Consider the following content marketing trends:

  • Create personal content
  • Include visual content
  • Deliver interactive content

Does your organization have a document retention strategy in place? We want to hear from you in the comment section below! See how your intranet can help with retaining key documents by requesting a demo.

By Elizabeth George

Elizabeth has been involved in the tech start-up world for many years, bringing her strong marketing skills, brand building abilities and social media saavy approach to the Intranet Connections team. With a passion for aesthetics, and a results driven work ethic, she brings a unique approach to the marketing world and enjoys working with a team to creatively strengthen a brand’s identity. When Elizabeth isn’t at the office, she enjoys reading books, watching movies and exploring the city with her dog, Chandler Bing.