The main benefit of sentencing documents is knowing when you can safely dispose of them. The benefit of disposing records properly is reducing the storage volume required. The fewer documents stored equals less cost and more efficiency.
Proper sentencing mean’s documents are correctly identified and classified, and have the disposal date attached to them.
Whether records are in hard copy or digital format, correct identification, classification and scheduling identifies records of value to the organisation and, conversely those records which can be disposed of. Disposing of documents which are just not needed results in quicker and easier retrieval of valuable information. Consider it a document declutter of sorts.
Identification and classification assigns appropriate metadata to documents which are then entered into a DRMS making them available for search and retrieval.
Sentencing applies to each individual document, not just groups of documents, this is what makes it is so effective when you need to find something specific. However, if a file is created and all the documents relate to the title and to the same function, activity and subject matter the sentence can be done at the file level, rather than for each document. Training and knowledge are required to make that determination.
Knowledge of your organisation is essential.
Documents should be sentenced when they are created and metadata entered into a system. Where there is a backlog of hard copies stored, and sentencing hasn’t been part of processing the documents, it is an exercise worth doing, as it could result in a significant reduction of paper. Outsourcing this task means that your organisation won’t need to allocate the time and resources required if it is done in-house.
Compliance with legislation is a prime reason for sentencing documents in any format. At all levels of government, there are laws governing the retention of documents and it can vary wildly. Sentencing on creation or receipt of a document immediately eliminates the guesswork and the tedious manual exercise of going through each document later in its life-cycle and deciding if it stays or if it goes. Every organisation has a need to be transparent, compliance with retention and correct disposal is important to this process.
It is also important to note that sentencing involves reviewing documents on the designated disposal date to ensure it should actually be destroyed. For example, if a document is still a component of an ongoing dispute, regardless of its scheduled date, it should be retained.
The decision to apply sentencing also presumes there are proper processes and policies in place which determine the metadata to be used for each document.
These elements all point to well managed records throughout their life-cycle from creation to destruction. In the end sentencing makes good business sense.