Helen Streck of Kaizen InfoSource on Retention Schedules [Podcast]

Have you ever wondered how to even start? Record management pro Helen Streck, CEO of Kaizen InfoSource, definitely feels your pain.

Helen sat down with Corodata to give us her guidelines for getting started on a retention schedule—a crucial piece that falls under an organization’s record retention policy, and the building block all record management. This is the first of a 3-part series.

Q. When it comes to your organization’s record management of paper and electronic files, where does an organization even start?

A. We suggest you start with the retention schedule. A retention schedule is a document that tells you what kind of information the company has and how long to keep it. That document is the foundation if you want to tie retention to security.

Q. What are 3 most important elements to creating a retention schedule?

A. I’d like to start by saying, make sure your expectations are real in how long it takes to build one.  They can take 3-6 months to build. Kaizen InfoSource does it that way.


Know the types of information you have in your organization.

The first thing you really have to do is determine the classes or types of records you have in your organization. Starting this program is really understanding what you have. We involve the people who use the documents. When I interview somebody on how they use their information, I’m not interviewing the CEO. We want somebody at mid-level management who can say this is the information our group needs. We take the time to explain why we’re creating a retention schedule, how it helps them. We use it as an educational opportunity. That conversation breaks down a lot of obstacles. It’s really important to understand what your business is and how people use the information they work with. That defines what they have and what the value is to that person.


Be Realistic.

If we’re building a retention schedule and the law says you need it for 5 years and you say to me, I really want to keep it 6 or 7 years. I’m going to say, cool, I’m good with that.  If you get too legalistic, then people don’t want to use it, because they might have more  need for that information.


You still need people.

Make sure that what is in that retention schedule can be added to other processes, to ensure that compliance happens. People think they get a wonderful retention schedule and a miracle is going to happen; all the documents, all the records, all the data is going to magically disappear all by itself that is past its compliance. You still need people. And that’s where the partners come in. Like Corodata, your partner, you tell them how long you want to keep it. They’re not going to make those decisions. But they can help you with notifications, provide you with lists. So it becomes a more efficient process.