Records Management Blog | Practical Records Management

Document archiving - where should you start?

Posted by Michael Thomas on Sun, May 02, 2010 @ 03:11 PM

DOcument ArchivingWhen starting to archive documents, many people find themselves unsure about where to begin. If you don't have a detailed records management policy in place, it can be difficult to come up with a document archiving strategy on the fly. There are a few simple approaches that you can use, however, they can make this process a whole lot easier.

1)      Archive based on creation or destruction date

Date-based document archiving is perhaps the easiest and most straightforward way to deal with document retention. This strategy requires that you either know the date that the document was created, the scheduled date at which the document will no longer be required, or ideally both these pieces of information. Date-based archiving is particularly effective for financial information, as any request that was made to review the file would likely be based on the date on which it was processed. In some instances date-based archiving also make sense when a particular transaction closes, opens, or begins a new phase in a client or vendor relationship.

2)      Archive based on frequency of retrieval

The decision to archive documents based on the frequency of retrieval may be made independent of date-based archiving or in conjunction with that strategy. Choosing to archive based on frequency of retrieval involves understanding how often content is requested and grouping information in a way that it can be quickly accessed based on how likely it is to be required. And archiving strategy based on the frequency of retrieval is perhaps the most difficult one to deploy, and will typically be a subset of either a date-based or retention-based strategy.

3)      Archive based on retention requirements

many documents that are created at a very low likelihood of retrieval. For this type of content archiving based on retention requirements is likely the most effective option. Retention-based archiving requires only that you know what you have in possession currently and how long it should be retained for. Two very common applications for retention-based archiving are mortgage lending (with a relatively finite term) and specialty medical records (where the patient may have a low chance of repeat encounters).

Keep in mind that the document archiving strategy you choose to deploy will likely be the same whether you're storing physical files or scanning your documents. In most instances the document archiving strategy will be largely dependent on the type of content being considered (financial, regulatory, etc.), and less dependent on the media in which the content is stored.

If you're looking for assistance with determining the appropriate document archiving strategy for your business, you may want to discuss your needs with one of our Records Management Consultants to verify your plan and ensure that you're making the right choices.

What is your strategy for document archiving? Are there any approaches that we've missed? If you can share your best practices with the community, be sure to add them in the Comments!

Photo Credit : Gadl

Tags: Document Management, Records Management