In Tough Economic Times, Make the Case

Michelangelo is arguably the greatest artist of our time. However, many successful records managers will tell you that they use comparable skills to maintain an effective record retention program because implementation and compliance is more of an art than a science.

Corporate attorneys frequently counsel clients that it is riskier to have a retention program that is not followed than not having one at all, and in tough economic times, retention programs are sometimes cut as cost saving mechanisms. As corporate counsel, we can offer our clients practical information to prevent this outcome by preparing them to communicate the business case for maintaining the program.

 Below are some key messages that record managers can communicate to top level management:

 -Communicate the return on investment: describe reductions in storage costs and savings 

  resulting from time spent searching for records


 -Manage for Change: monitor changes in technology, organizational structure, and workforce

  demographics that effect record retention and develop new ways of doing things


 -Operate in the Legal Context: keep up with changes in law and educate employees,

  integrate legal expertise, integrate legal requirements in retention and disposition schedules


 -Proceed Consistently with Standards: use standards to demonstrate the program's

  expertise, competence and authority


-Use Cooperative Approaches: work with other offices to streamline work and utilize office



-Explain the Return on Investment: emphasize cost reductions, contribute to the value chain

 and to business operations, improved customer relations, better decision-making and

 protection from losing litigation


 -Advocate for the Program: reinforcement of good business practices, competitive edge,

  IT management, protection from litigation, framework for managing email, save money

  and space, preservation of essential documents and disaster preparedness


Under mounting pressure to cut costs, it is easy to succumb to the adage that money saved is money earned. However, there are ways to counsel our clients to argue that the short-termed benefit of cost reduction through eliminating a record retention program does not outweigh the long-term savings in the value chain. Having an effective record management system is a business imperative because efficient management of records contributes to overall corporate profitability.

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