Most of us have had this experience. You have just moved to a new home and, as you unpack your boxes, you look at some item and think to yourself, “Why did I just pay to have this moved?” Luckily, that item probably did not cost much in terms of the overall move of your personal belongings. However, for a company moving offices, paying for moving hundreds of unneeded boxes of documents is a much more expensive proposition.
One of the best ways to control the costs of moving documents is having a good document retention plan. If your company is like most companies, however, you are likely to find no plan or one that is outdated and that has been long ignored. So how do you get started? Document retention plans are meant to inform employees when they should no longer retain documents. Implementing a good document retention plan usually involves the following:
- Designating a Records Management Officer (RMO);
- Identifying record types created and received by the company;
- Creating a document retention policy/schedule;
- Holding department leader meetings with the RMO to discuss implementation of the policy;
- Sending notice to the employees of the soon-to-be-implemented policy; and
- Initiating the initial destruction of documents no longer required to be retained per any regulations, business need, or litigation hold.
Obviously, there is a great deal of detailed work to be done in the steps outlined above. This cannot be done in a few weeks before you move offices. In my experience, it usually takes six months or more to put a document retention plan into place. But if you do the work, you will avoid the stress of someday opening a box in your brand new office, looking at its content, and wondering “why did we just pay to move this?”