One of the most crucial pieces to a strong records retention policy is knowing the time frame that every document needs to be retained. Keeping a document too long just takes up space that could be used for something else, while destroying one too early can lead to legal issues and more complications. Despite this, a new survey has found that many companies do not consider these questions.

According to a recent study from Canon Business Process Services, only 15 percent of executives surveyed said their organizations have implemented a risk assessment to determine appropriate record retention periods. This means 85 percent of companies are opening themselves up to fines and further punishments for noncompliance of any industry regulations.

One best practice that should be used by many companies is a periodic records needs assessment to undercover any opportunities to close the gap between where organizations currently are and where they should be. This advice is also not heeded by a majority of respondents, as the survey found that 52 percent cited either not conducting an internal assessment or not knowing if one had been done.

“Whatever records management strategy an organization adopts, the goals should be clear,” Elizabeth Halaki, the chief marketing officer for Canon Business Process Services, said in the study. “Our current and previous surveys indicate that companies want their records programs to help mitigate compliance risk, leverage proven technology and better control their information assets.”

Every business can benefit from keeping files secure and organized to protect themselves as well as enjoy operational efficiencies. By partnering with a document management firm that assists with retention strategies, any business can be sure that its paperwork is kept organized and accessible and when appropriate, properly disposed of.