Your record retention schedule (RRS) is the backbone of your organization’s information management program.

However, building your schedule is just the beginning. Maintaining your RRS is another matter entirely. While it would be preferable to issue a blanket policy to retain all business records forever, your organization would be noncompliant with the myriad of laws governing what information can be kept, and for how long.

Since these laws change frequently, it’s important to update your retention schedule regularly—but how often?

Various factors can impact how often you should review or update your RRS. In this post, we’ll help you understand each of these factors, so you can determine the appropriate frequency for your organization.

Changes in Regulations

New laws and regulations regarding record retention are coming out daily. Privacy regulations, in particular, are also increasing. As Gartner reports, by 2023, 65% of the world’s population will be covered by some sort of privacy policy, (an increase from 10% in 2020).

Our database of retention legislation receives almost 200 updates per day. When your organization may be subject to 8 to 15K laws governing record retention — and even more for international organizations — it means you can’t be only updating your RRS once per year.

It can be nearly impossible to know which of those changes are just fixing a typo and which are significant changes. Staying informed about any updates, amendments, or new legislation that may affect your RRS can help guide how often it needs to be updated.

Industry Standards

Retaining records for seven years across the board isn’t the reality many businesses are dealing with. Different industries have their own best practices and standards for records retention.

For instance, the healthcare industry may require retaining patient records for a longer period compared to the retail industry, which might focus more on retaining transaction records. Staying current on these industry-specific guidelines and understanding how they vary will help you align your RRS with best practices and avoid potential issues.

Organizational Changes

Mergers, acquisitions, reorganizations, or other significant changes within your company may necessitate a review and update of your RRS.

These changes can affect the types of records generated, the volume of records, or the way records are managed within the organization. Records management should play a key role in merger and acquisition transactions or significant reorganization processes.

RIM professionals can confirm that information is being handled in a compliant manner, and they can also help create new workflows to ensure their organization’s retention schedule addresses the way information will be retained going forward.

Technological Advancements

As technology evolves, so do the tools and systems used for managing records. Keeping up with these advancements may require updating your RRS to accommodate new formats, storage methods, or retrieval processes.

For example, the transition from paper records to digital formats or the adoption of cloud-based storage solutions may necessitate updating your RRS to accommodate these new technologies. Otherwise, it will be unclear which is the actual record and which is a copy.

Should these records be stranded in siloed systems, it’s all the more important to “rescue” them as it’ll ensure they are dispositioned properly according to your RRS.

Findings from Audits

Regular audits of your records management practices can reveal areas of improvement or non-compliance. Any findings from these audits should be addressed promptly by reviewing and updating your RRS as needed.

To continue the example of stranded records, if your team is auditing records and finds record types that are not accounted for in your RRS, it will certainly require updating.

Closing Thoughts

Considering these factors will help you determine the optimal frequency for reviewing and updating your RRS. This way, you can ensure it remains relevant, compliant, and effective for your organization’s needs.

For more information on building a modern record retention schedule, check out our roadmap toward an integrated information management program. You’ll get a guide to building an information management program that is not only futureproofed but ensures your company’s information is accessible, compliant, and secure.