Many Records and Information Management (RIM) professionals hear the question, “Why is RIM necessary?” My short answer is that effective RIM saves your company money, makes it more efficient, and reduces its risk. I want to expand on that answer by listing some of the ways a good RIM program can work for you.
Disposition of Records
So why not just keep everything? One reason is for certain types of records, disposition is required by law. For example, in some locations, it’s mandatory to dispose of Personally Identifiable Information after a short period. Also, disposition of records reduces the quantity of information to search when looking for records. Less information translates into increased retrieval efficiency for employees. It also reduces the risk that excessive billable hours will be needed to identify relevant information for discovery requests. Both are examples of how managing the growth of information reduces risk and increases efficiency.
Records Retention Schedules
A foundation for a good RIM Program is a Records Retention Schedule (RRS). When properly constructed and implemented, they allow for the reasonable disposition of records. Otherwise, regulators and courts might criticize the intent behind records disposition activities. To be reasonable, disposition should be based on business needs, legal requirements, and common practice.
RIM programs promote compliance with legal requirements. How? They research and analyze legal requirements to ensure proper retention, handling, and disposition of records. Proper retention of records prevents sanctions and other penalties for non-compliance. Sanctions for improper RIM can be significant, reaching up to seven-figures for certain offenses.
Legal Holds and RIM Policies
Along with the RRS, it’s necessary to create a legal hold policy. The hold delays normal disposition for records involved in pending or anticipated litigation. Also, rolling-out the RRS requires creating and revising supporting policies and procedures. Once drafted, training is necessary to educate current and future employees about the policies. It’s also necessary to conduct audits to ensure compliance with the policies.
One way many companies promote compliance is to implement “disposition days.” These are days dedicated to organizing and disposing of records and other information. The RRS guides disposition and policies exclude records that are subject to legal holds.
One common source of growth in records and information is email. However, email itself is not a record; it’s a tool used to transmit records. Avoid using it as a storage system, so it doesn’t become a dumping ground. Policies, procedures, and guidelines will help employees properly file records from email. Retain routine email short term unless needed for business reasons.
RIM programs help reduce risks caused by disasters. They do this by planning to ensure continued operation if disaster strikes. Vital records needed for continued operation should be identified. Then, steps are taken to protect that information against the risks for potential disaster types.
Remember, Zasio is here to help with your RIM needs. Contact our Consulting department today for help kicking off or refreshing you RIM program.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is to provide general education on Information Governance topics. The statements are informational only and do not constitute legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the application of the law to your business activities, you should seek the advice of your legal counsel.