Skip to main content
A Better Partnership


Feb 2012
February 01, 2012

Why Customize a Records Retention Schedule?

A schedule identifies those records an organization chooses to retain for a specific period of time based on legal and/or business reasons.  Records schedules differ among organizations because organizations differ among each other.  The following factors, among others, create variations in schedules:
  • Type of organization (an auto manufacturer retains different records than a bank)
  • Size of organization (e.g., certain labor regulations only affect companies of a certain size)
  • Location of organization (retention requirements vary across state and national lines)
  • Whether organization is publically traded or not (e.g., certain SEC oversight applies to the former)
  • Whether organization provides goods/services to the U.S. government (which necessitates requirements applicable to government contractors)
  • Volume of litigation (organization may consider retaining records that, while not legally required to be retained, should be retained for defensive or offensive purposes)
A generic schedule runs the risk of being inaccurate and not taking into account the factors above.  An inaccurate schedule may lead to:
  • Lack of employee involvement, compliance and misuse 
  • The disposal of records that should be retained legally– resulting in fines, adverse inference in lawsuit or obstruction of justice (which carries a possible 20 year sentence)
  • Retention of records that should be destroyed – resulting in storage costs, inefficiency, costly production of documents in litigation/audit or even loss of a lawsuit 
The more tailored a schedule is to an organization, the more likely accurate and beneficial it will be to the organization.  

Dawn Ward chairs the firm’s Records Information Management Practice.  She is a long-standing member of ARMA International, as well as a member of the West Michigan Chapter of ARMA, which printed this article.

NOTICE. Although we would like to hear from you, we cannot represent you until we know that doing so will not create a conflict of interest. Also, we cannot treat unsolicited information as confidential. Accordingly, please do not send us any information about any matter that may involve you until you receive a written statement from us that we represent you.

By clicking the ‘ACCEPT’ button, you agree that we may review any information you transmit to us. You recognize that our review of your information, even if you submitted it in a good faith effort to retain us, and even if you consider it confidential, does not preclude us from representing another client directly adverse to you, even in a matter where that information could and will be used against you.

Please click the ‘ACCEPT’ button if you understand and accept the foregoing statement and wish to proceed.



+ -