The Devil is in the Details: Why a professional opinion is a key component of a global retention schedule

By: In: Information Management On: Sep 29, 2015
The Devil is in the Details: Why a professional opinion is a key component of a global retention schedule

Chances are if you’re reading this article, you already understand the importance of a retention schedule. You probably even have a good grasp of the various types of legal requirements that govern your industry. But is that enough? How confident are you that your retention schedule not only encompasses the laws and regulations affecting your business, but also interprets and applies them correctly?

The concept of properly interpreting and applying laws came up recently with a large financial services client. As can be expected, international tax requirements is a large focus area for this particular company. During the legal research phase of the project, one country in particular had a statute pertaining to the government’s authority to retroactively recover taxes from a business entity. Upon an initial reading, the retention requirements appeared to be straight-forward. But thanks to an in-depth analysis from our legal curators, we were able to explain to the client that in the case of fraud, the retention requirements more than doubled. This was a small yet important nuance that needed to be taken into consideration when understanding the legal requirements surrounding those records.

I had another conversation just the other day with a client who was getting significant pressure from internal business groups to change a retention period for a particular class to “Permanent.” I love questions like this, because it allows me to do some in-depth research, as well as a bit of educating. After reviewing the records in question and having an in-depth conversation with a member of our legal team, I was able to confirm that not only is there no legal requirement for Permanent retention, but making such a change to that particular class would expose the company to significant risk.

As part of my job, I have the opportunity to work with all sorts of companies on developing and maintaining retention schedules. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. In a recent Information Governance Benchmarking Survey, 88% of organizations said they believe their retention schedules need improvement.[i] Along with the organization it supports, a retention schedule is constantly evolving. It takes concentrated effort to maintain, and for large global companies, this is a task that shouldn’t be attempted alone.

There are just a few of the difficult scenarios many organizations face when creating and implementing a global retention schedule. These small yet important details are one of the reasons why our clients rely on Iron Mountain to help guide them through complex areas of the law. With regulatory requirements on the rise and litigation becoming a regular part of business, it’s never been more important to get things right. Iron Mountain’s Global Research and Policy Center solutions help organizations build and maintain a legally-defensible, cloud-based global retention schedules. Thanks to our network of law firms and legal curators around the world, changes and updates to laws are continuously added to our database and reviewed by our legal curators. These updates are then pushed to the client portal, where the client can make an informed decision about how to approach legal or regulatory changes that may affect retention requirements.

With the ARMA Conference quickly approaching, this is an opportune time to start thinking about the records and information management needs of your organization, whether it involves a global retention schedule, or something more simplistic. I encourage you to take full advantage of the educational sessions and networking opportunities at this year’s ARMA Conference. I also invite you to stop by the Iron Mountain booth # 400 to meet me and further discuss our records and information management offerings.

Follow Phil on Twitter – @Phil_Guenther




[i] 2013/2014 Information Governance Benchmarking Survey. Cohasset Associates, ARMA International, AIIM.

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About the author

Phil Guenther

Phil Guenther is a Senior Consultant in Iron Mountain’s Consulting Practice. Phil joined Iron Mountain in 2013 after spending several years in the Pharma industry as a Records Manager. Phil’s experience as a RIM practitioner helps him relate to his clients, and his legal background helps round out the unique perspective he brings to his job. Phil’s role at Iron Mountain includes building retention schedules, performing RIM program assessments, creating policies and procedures, and training. Phil is an active member of the ARMA Charlotte Chapter, and Website Director for the ARMA Boston Chapter.