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The New Elsmar Cove Forums   The New Elsmar Cove Forums
  Miscellaneous Quality Topics
  Record Retention

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Author Topic:   Record Retention
Forum Contributor

Posts: 38
From:Manila, Philippines
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 20 March 2001 02:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Raffy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We currently set our record retention for all documents as five years, now we haven't reach the five year mark and our record retention area is now approaching to be full. Slowly, we are transferring some of the records in an electronic format. However, we would like to reduce it to three years retention plus one year in the active file?Would it be okay? Does our auditor would clearly agree with us? How do we define this? How do we classify the following documents to be retained? Please comment.

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Posts: 28
From:NC, USA
Registered: Jan 2001

posted 20 March 2001 10:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SteelMaiden     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Record retention is best looked at by your document types, life cycle of your product(s), importance of the information and impact on your, and your customers', business. Also get your financial/legal people involved to help identify items that need to be kept for legal or tax purposes, etc.

If you have records that contain information that is transferred to another form, you may not have to keep them as long as some others. An example might be if you are keying information into your computer systems from forms filled in by hand. Maybe you only want to keep the hand-written records for one year (or less) and the computer record becomes your "official" record. Use your history of data entry accuracy to help you here.

Obviously, if you work in a sector where product life cycles are long and impact on safety is high, you may want to keep records a longer time. But you are not going to add any value by keeping your internal audit records for five years. A typical audit cycle is three years, why hang on to those records for 5, for example.

The problem that I have seen most often is that too many companies just say "we will keep the records for 5, 7, 10 or how many ever years." If you spend a little time up front and figure out how long you really need the records, you can reduce costs dramatically in record retention. 1) man-hours spent moving files to different locations as you run out of room. 2) Additional storage areas, new construction or remodeling. 3) Reduced number of filing cabinets/boxes, etc. 4) If you are really into the tree-hugging (I am) you can often times re-use the folders for items with a less-lengthy retention.

I hope this helps somewhat, I remember the first ISO system I did and record retention seemed like an overwhelming menace. Just look at things with the viewpoint of "How many times do I reference this after 1 year, after 3 years, after 7 years, etc. etc." It's kind of like cleaning out the closets or the utility shed!

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Dan Larsen
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Posts: 137
From:Sussex, WI
Registered: Feb 2001

posted 20 March 2001 01:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dan Larsen   Click Here to Email Dan Larsen     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree wholeheartedly. A lot of places take the shortcut and blanket their entire system with a retention period that's way too long for many records. I've had situations where the retention period has been defined as short as one week (the daily data was transferred to a summary report each week).

I think the best approach is a record master list that identifies each record in the system. For each record, critically evaluate how far back you really use them. I think you'll be surprised at how infrequently some records are really used.

Remember that you as the supplier have every right to dictate the retention period (as long as your retention doesn't violate a customer requirement). If your retention period is too short and starts affecting the integrity of your quality system, your internal control systems should catch the problem.

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Forum Contributor

Posts: 38
From:Manila, Philippines
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 20 March 2001 06:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Raffy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you for the quick response.

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