Paper - save or shred?

Topic: 

Anonymous Patron writes "Lansing State Journal: Face it: This isn't a paperless society - nor will it be any time soon. Paper in a typical business grows 22 percent a year and 4 trillion records are in storage, according to Virginia-based World-SCAN Inc., a document storage and retrieval company. Electronic records are growing at a clip of 80 percent a year.

Lawyers, accountants and consultants agree the first step in managing a mess of paper and electronic records is having a written document retention policy. Many heavily regulated industries such as banks or hospitals have specific guidelines about records. Other sectors don't."

Comments

With input from public librarians and library cooperative directors, Michigan Records Management Services created General Schedule #17, a retention and disposal schedule for MI public libraries.

Any business or organization interested in records management, electronic or otherwise, would be well-advised to consult the National Archives and Records Administration's General Schedules. While the focus is retention of federal records, the guidelines can be applied to private industry, especially in terms of laws needing to be followed, etc.

The point of records management in general is to maintain those records, regardless of media, necessary to the legal, operational, regulatory, financial, and historical purposes of the organization. An organization may not have all of these purposes in its purview, depending on its function.

There are professional organizations specializing in Records and Information Management that are excellent sources of information: from the "how-to's" to the "whys". The American Records Managers Association (now ARMA International), and the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators.

The point that the article makes about migrating media for records stored in older formats is a good one, but can be expensive. In many cases, it may behoove an organization to enlist the services of a third-party provider like Hummingbird or Documentum when it comes to electronic records and document management. There are other firms that specialize in this area. The two I mention just happen to hold the largest market share.