Introduction:

Keeping track of your business’s paperwork and digital data can be an overwhelming responsibility.

A well built-out record retention policy is absolutely essential for office managers to organize all company records and know when to dispose of them. It is also important to ensure compliance with financial and legal requirements.

According to Erik Eckel from TechRepublic, "A data retention policy is the first step in helping protect an organization's data and avoid financial, civil and criminal penalties that increasingly accompany poor data management practices."

Record disposal is a particularly crucial component of record management as it could cause a costly legal situation if not executed properly.

Whether your records are paper or digital, need to be destroyed or retained in a storage facility, this checklist will guide you through a simple method to ensuring that you are disposing of records in a compliant and efficient manner.

Let's get started.

Preparation:

Review your organization's records retention schedule

First, you must verify that the disposal is aligned with company policy by reviewing the record retention schedule. 

According to the multinational enterprise information management company Iron Mountain

"A records retention schedule is the cornerstone of an effective records management program."

Read about the fundamentals of a record retention schedule.

Record basic disposition details

Manager who needs to approve the disposition

Confirm method of paper disposal

Records should be destroyed in an environmentally friendly manner. Both paper and microforms should be recycled where these facilities exist. 

Confirm method of digital disposal

Schedule disposal date

The next step is to schedule a disposal date. 

Fill out a record disposition log

The next step is to name each record and their various details in a disposition log.

Most of this information has already been gathered in the previous tasks; it's just a matter of consolidating them into a clear and well-organized spreadsheet.

The log is essential for you to gain approval from the records management department and/or senior management, in addition to the company's own record-keeping of record disposals! 

A disposition log must at least contain the following details:

  • 1
    Description of records
  • 2
    Retention period
  • 3
    Dates of records
  • 4
    Disposition method
  • 5
    Records serial/ID number
  • 6
    Disposition date

Download our template disposition log (preview below) if you do not already have one tailored to your organization. 

Send records disposal request for approval

Using the template below, email a manager who must approve the disposition before you move forward in the process

Get approval from senior management

Ensure compliance with state law

When you are disposing of records that contain personal and/or confidential information, it is critical that you ensure compliance with state laws.

Review state data disposal laws here.

Disposition:

Schedule transportation service

If you use an information management services company like Access or Iron Mountain, contact them and schedule a pick-up date that is in line with the disposal date you selected earlier in the checklist.

In the case that you handle transportation internally, contact the relevant department, inform them of the upcoming disposal and confirm pick-up and delivery to the storage or destuction facility. 

Sensitive and confidential records should only be conveyed in a closed and lockable vehicle.

Overview of how Iron Mountain's record management services work. This is a good example of the benefits of using a secure information management service

Confirm storage location

State the address of where the records will be stored.

If you have a number of different archive locations, recording the location here will help you identify the storage facility of each batch in the future in the case that they need to be retrieved.

Confirm destruction site

State the address of where the records will be destroyed.

Oversee the records destruction

Whether you are destroying the records onsite or offsite, it is important that you oversee the process to make sure the records are destroyed properly. 

The destruction of highly sensitive, personal or confidential material should be supervised by a representative of the organization or by another authorized agent if destruction has been contracted out.

Confirm the records have reached the storage facility

Verify that the transportation service has successfully delivered the records to the storage facility. 

Receive a certificate of destruction

A sample certificate of destruction

Once the records have been destroyed, you should receive a certificate of destruction from the service provider that performed the destruction on your behalf. 

The certificate is important because it is the company's guarantee to you, the customer, that all items have been properly destroyed. Some certificates will also explain the process that was used so you know exactly how your data was handled. 

If you are not receiving certificates of destruction from your current service provider, it could mean that they are failing to comply with strict rules that govern data destruction. As a result, you could be putting yourself at risk of data breaches.

Internally verify completion of the disposal

Check with the appropriate department that the record disposal has been completed.

In the case that digital records were being disposed of, such as a set of old leads from your CRM system, you'll need to verify their deletion with a member of the IT department or someone who has an understanding of the digital record disposition process.

Document the move

The last step is to record the record disposal!

Document the following in your record management system:

Record batch: {{form.Record_batch_(title)}}
Description:
{{form.Description_of_the_records}}
Type:
{{form.Are_the_records_paper_or_digital?}}

Date records arrived at the storage facility
: {{form.Date_records_arrived_at_the_storage_facility}}

Who delivered the records to the storage facility? 
{{form.Who_delivered_the_records_to_the_storage_facility?}}

Storage facility address:
{{form.Address_line_1_(street_address)}}
{{form.Address_line_2_(apartment,_suite,_unit)}}
{{form.Address_-_City}}
{{form.Address_-_State}}
{{form.Address_-_ZIP_Code}}

Document the disposal

The last step is to record the record disposal!

Document the following in your record management system:

Record batch: {{form.Record_batch_(title)}}
Description:
{{form.Description_of_the_records}}
Type:
{{form.Are_the_records_paper_or_digital?}}

Date of record destruction:
{{form.Date_of_records_destruction}}

Who/what undertook the destruction?: 
{{form.Who/what_undertook_the_destruction?}}

Sources:

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