Special Interest Group: Women in Information Management (WIIM)

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  • 1.  Records Retention Review Strategy

    Posted 09-09-2020 02:06

    Hi Everyone,

    I am new to the Records Management world and would like to get some ideas/best practices as to how to revamp our records retention schedule and tackle our records retention review in the most efficient manner. Could y'all share any resources you find beneficial with this newbie? Open to your input, what has worked for you, what hasn't, lessons learned, resources, etc. There is a lot of great information out there! And I'm trying to come up with the best strategy to plan my work.  Thanks in advance for input.



    Jessica Brown
    Records Manager
    Alaska USA

  • 2.  RE: Records Retention Review Strategy

    Posted 09-10-2020 10:34
    Here's some resources from AIIM:

         A Toolkit, "How to Design, Develop, Deploy, and Maintain a Records Retention Program" 
         A Toolkit, "How to Develop, Deploy, and Maintain a Business Classification Scheme (BCS)"
         A Toolkit, "How to Determine the Right Type of Taxonomy for Your Business"

         Quick Study, "Enterprise Content Management Quick Study"
         Quick Study, "Electronic Records Management Quick Study"
         Quick Study, "System and Information Inventory Quick Study"

    Also, are you a member of the Records Managers group on the AIIM Community site?  Check out some of the conversations there:



    Connie Prendergast
    Records Management Clerk
    Flagstaff County
    Sedgewick, AB CANADA

  • 3.  RE: Records Retention Review Strategy

    Posted 10-07-2020 13:46
    Hi Jessica,
      I can tell you from personal experience this is a difficult endeavor in most environments.  A few things to think about:
    • Do you have a positive working relationship with IT?  This is so important when it comes to the electronic records
    • Do you have people in the business who know it is their duty to assist and do the work?  The foundation to adoption is the understanding that those that create, use, maintain, and collect the records and responsible for the lifecycle management and your team is there to assist and educate (not do the heavy lifting).
    • Do you have a current records inventory?  Often times our records change over the years and that would allow you to update the schedule to ensure relevance
    • Are you using a vendor to assist with citation review and or location?  If money is in the budget this is often a helpful first step, if you do not have the money, there are ample resources to do the review in house but I would suggest working with legal closely 
    • Have you thought about risks to the org if you don't do the work or reward if you do?
    • Do you have a solid communication plan or strategy to communicate steps to the business?
    • Do you have executive backing or a champion to assist you?
    I would start with both a current records inventory and application/systems/tool inventory to know what you have, where it is stored, and to make sure things are not being systematically deleted or thrown away.  I am here to help if you need any detail or direction on any of this and to talk thru change management styles as well so orgs will acclimate better to doing the work.

    Amy Harrelson

  • 4.  RE: Records Retention Review Strategy

    Posted 10-08-2020 19:38
    Hi, Jessica,

    I wanted to offer some input and piggyback on Amy's excellent points. I am a RM for a non-profit real estate development firm, but it is a complex organization with several responsibilities (in other words, we're more than just real estate). The way your RM program is structured can differ based on the type of organization you're in (corporate, government, academic, law, etc.).

    I think the most important thing to understand about RM is that your role is to advise, and that enforcement is very difficult. So extend yourself grace when implementing and monitoring. You can set policies, but you can't stand over people's shoulders and force them to comply.

    As Amy stated, surveying both the records and systems in place is the first step. In addition, I would meet with department heads and ask them what types of records they create. This not only helps you understand the nuts and bolts of the organization, but it also builds relationships with your stakeholders. You'll keep cultivating that relationship through trainings and check-ins down the road.

    I could not agree with more with Amy's comment about becoming good friends with your IT department. I am fortunate to have a great relationship with IT, and it has helped me get a seat at the table when staff ask for new tools and technical solutions. I can give them the RM perspective ("okay, so you like X for processing invoices, but does it have RM functionality? Does it create files that can be ingested into a ECMS?"). IT is the infrastructure, but the content within that infrastructure is your domain, so it's crucial to give folks perspective on retention, classification, and preservation.

    Senior stakeholders are another crucial element. People are busy, and RM tends to be the lowest of priorities. But if you have a champion in C-suite, they can support your cause.

    After you have a reasonable idea of the type and volume of data and information you are managing, I would create a RM program. This would include stakeholder support, financial support for technical solutions, policies and procedures for staff (to manage their E-mail, unstructured data, file naming conventions, etc.), trainings for staff, and, of course, the records retention schedule. In my first year, I conducted department trainings that were marginally successful. Later on I persuaded HR to make RM an element of the on- and off-boarding process. Now, in the employee's first week, they sit down with me for a half-hour and I introduce them to record-keeping practices.

    Finally, I'd be remiss not to mention long-term preservation, as I am also the Archivist for my organization. The retention schedule dictates the amount of time records should be kept before destruction, but I'm sure there are records that have permanent value. Keep on eye on that, as they will document your company's legacy, and can be used for publicity purposes or anniversaries (you could also use it as a fun way to keep people engaged, sending out a quarterly E-mail with RM tips and images "from the Archives").

    Implementing a RM program for any organization is a big project that is dependent on several factors, but I wanted to share a few thoughts based on my experience.


    Elizabeth Mc Gorty
    Archivist & Records Manage3r
    Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation