Disposing of Electronic Records - It's About Time

By Susan Cisco posted 12-19-2011 19:20

  

When it comes to recordkeeping many organizations default to keeping everything, especially if the records are electronic. I'm noticing a shift in the discussion from the initial states in the information lifecycle (creation and retention) to the final state (disposition). Maybe we've reached the tipping point, and organizations are beginning to direct their attention to getting rid of electronic records whose retention periods will expire soon/have expired.

I conducted a brief survey (December 13-15) to explore current practices for disposing of records whose retention periods have been satisfied. Nearly all respondents (96%) had a pre-approval process for destruction of physical records stored off-site, and the majority (78%) applied a pre-approval process to physical records stored on-site.  The most frequent roles involved in pre-approval process for the destruction of physical records were RM, Legal, Tax, and the department that owns the records.

1. Does your company require pre-approval for destruction of physical records stored on-site?   (n = 49)

Yes

 

38 responses (78%)

2. Does your company require pre-approval for destruction of physical records stored off-site?  (n = 49)

Yes

 

47 responses (96%)

 

A pre-approval process for the deletion of electronic records was more likely to be applied to electronic records stored on-site (high-volume repositories were mentioned). For more than half of the respondents, a pre-approval process for electronic records stored off-site or in the cloud was not applicable.

4. Does your company require pre-approval for deletion of electronic records stored off-site?  (n = 49)

Not applicable

 

25 responses (51%)

5. Does your company require pre-approval for deletion of electronic records stored in the "cloud," for example, payroll and benefit information?  (n = 49)

Not applicable

 

31 Reponses (63%)

 
There was wide divergence of opinions on the need for a pre-approval process for disposing of electronic records -- from no pre-approval requirements to a controlled process consistently applied to physical and electronic records:
  • "We have not implemented controls over electronic records as of this time, but in approved documentation the same approvals will be required for electronic as we currently utilize in the paper world."
  • "There are policy requirements but no procedures or tools for managing electronic records. E-disposition is therefore in the hands of the process owners."
  • ”I would like to see movement towards non-approval process to streamline the destruction and keep things consistent." I'm assuming this respondent expects up-to-date and approved retention and disposition rules and controlled processes and that records are destroyed according to the rules and controlled processes sono further documentation of final disposition is necessary.

Survey Sample - This Zoomerang survey was sent to 2,218 contacts from Gimmal's database with "record," "information manager," "records officer," or "information officer" in their title. There were 49 responses (2%).  Government represented 25% of the respondents' industry, and 26% were in the energy industry.  Ten percent were employed in utilities and 10% in the manufacturing industry.

 



#informationlifecycle #ElectronicRecordsManagement #Records-Management #dispositionofelectronicrecords
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