Document Retention – What You Should Know

Documents and records are the lifeblood of many businesses. Some businesses have more documents than others but we rely on documents and records every day to record events within our businesses. Some industries have more paper documents than electronic documents and other industries are vice versa. Not only do we have to keep up with our paper and electronic documents on a daily basis but there are also retention laws for various types of documents that widely vary.

In order to keep all of the records necessary for local, state and federal laws and guidelines many companies have established a retention schedule. A retention schedule has a list of various documents from personnel to taxes and how long it is mandated that those documents should be kept. The retention schedule is important because it prevents important documents that must be retained by law from being prematurely discarded. Below is an example of a records retention schedule from Dartmouth College.


Once a retention schedule is established it is important to maintain the documents that are within the schedule. Depending on the size of the organization and the demands of the document retention schedule, this can be a part time job or a job for a whole team of records experts. The job of the records manager is to maintain and protect documents that are within their allowable retention period while discarding any document that are outside of their useful life according to the retention schedule.

Retaining records can be done in a number of ways. Just a few decades ago there were rooms within businesses where there sole purpose of the room was for the storage of boxes of Box Storage & Records Managementrecords. This still exists today but records that have to be maintained in hard copy are typically stored in an off-site record storage facility.

Most companies hire an outside records storage company to collect and store boxes of documents at an off-site facility that is owned by the records storage company.

The other option for retaining documents is a cloud document management system. Documents that need to be retained are scanned and indexed using OCR or optical character recognition. The OCR allows the documents to be indexed and categorized based upon like qualities in the contents. This not only allows for retention of the documents but also allows for quick recall once the documents are stored on the cloud.

Now that we have a retention schedule and a way to retain the necessary documents it is time to mobile-shredding-truckdestroy the other documents that have gone beyond their useful life. It is important to find a shredding service that is trustworthy and will ensure that all documents are destroyed properly.

Most shredding companies offer both mobile shredding and off site shredding services. A mobile shredding service will come to the location where the documents need to be shredded and shred the documents on a truck that is equipped with an industrial shredder.

An off-site shredding service is for larger, bulk shredding jobs. With an off-site or plant based service a truck will come to the location of the documents and pick them up. Once the documents are on the truck, the truck takes the documents to a shredding plant where there are typically multiple industrial shredders. The documents are destroyed within the plant and the excess paper sold for pulp to make new paper and other products.

Shred Nations provides both mobile shredding and off-site shredding services for clients across the nations. Our network of certified shredding companies can help with any size job.

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