The file plan is the primary records management planning document. Although file plans can differ across organizations, they typically:
– Describe the kinds of items the organization acknowledges to be records.
– Describe what broader category of records the items belong to.
– Indicate where records are stored.
– Describe retention periods for records.
– Delineate who is responsible for managing the various kinds of records.
Identify kinds of records
Determining which active documents in your organization might be declarable as records requires the collaboration of records managers, lawyers, compliance officers, and content managers. Note that, even if your enterprise is not in a highly regulated industry, there are general laws that might obligate your enterprise to retain records. Along with general business laws, you must evaluate legal requirements that are specific to your enterprise.
It is beyond the scope of this article to provide more than general information about how to determine what is a record in your organization. Most likely, your enterprise is already doing some form of records management and has filled most of the records management roles that you need, and you might already have a taxonomy of records.
Generally, to determine what are records in your organization:
1. Understand your enterprise’s legal obligations and business needs.
2. In a collaborative effort across the divisions of your organization, analyze how active documents are used.
3. Develop a list of the kinds of documents that should become records. For example, you might determine that the following should be retained as records:
– Contracts to rent corporate space.
– Documents related to employees’ benefits.
– Documents related to product research and development.
4. Categorize the records. Records in the same category often have the same retention periods and might require similar treatment in other ways.
Complete the file plan
After you determine which documents should be retained as records and after you create a set of record categories, complete your file plan by providing additional information about each kind of record. Indicate the following:
1. How long each kind of record should be retained.
2. How records should be disposed of when the retention period expires.
3. Who is the primary records manager for records of this kind.
4. What kind of media are records of this kind stored in.
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