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What Data Retention Level Is Right For Your Organization?

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Data is the new oil; the growth of data across the local economy is huge. That being said, figuring out how to best handle data management can be difficult for many organizations. How much data you should keep and how much should be destroyed are vital considerations that aren’t necessarily cut-and-dried.

What are the current requirements/regulatory mandates that customers and businesses need to adhere to? And based on those, what data are you required to keep?

It all comes down to:

1) What do you have to maintain?

2) Why do you have to maintain it?

3) How long do you have to maintain it for?

Those three things are what defines the retention boundaries for any organization.

Data Protection

If you want to protect data in the event that it’s accidentally modified, corrupted, or inaccessible, how can you ensure the business continues after gaining access to that particular item, document, asset, or record?

Many organizations try to say retention and data protection are essentially the same and try to put them in the same bucket. Since they realistically aren’t the same, however, it’s important to have the right strategy in place and leverage technology to address any discrepancies.

What Makes a Data Retention Policy?

The top four areas you should consider when creating a data retention policy are:

1. Compliance with Regulatory Laws

Ensuring that you’re complying with any state or federal laws in terms of destruction of records before an acceptable time frame. This includes being able to manage the risk for any departments that are responsible for meeting any types of privacy laws.

2. Destruction

As an organization, you need to be able to define specific rules around when something should be able to be removed or deleted from the business. This is based on specific requirements that go back to compliance. Based on what you’re required to maintain, you can define your destruction rules. Maybe you need to provide some proof of destruction, for instance.

3. How to Make the Business More Efficient

With all this data, how can you make it easy to find everything as quickly and efficiently as possible? You don’t want to retrieve old documents or burden the system and have the end user sift through more than they should. Thus, decluttering the amount of data available to you is key.

4. Cost Savings on Storage

Naturally, there’s a cost associated with keeping all of this data. If you can remove data when possible, you can avoid unnecessary retention fees.

For customers who store data on-premises, the potential cost savings could be tremendous because of the capital expenditures that most on-prem customers still have to plan and manage. Buying additional servers or disks to keep up with all the data that’s being hoarded is serious money

For those using a cloud service that leverages a more operational model where you’re just paying for the services you need, storage is a bit less of a factor. It still matters, but it depends on where that data resides.

At its core, cost savings is all about being efficient with unnecessary storage of content that’s not valuable or required for the organization. This includes physical content too, e.g. file cabinets or traditional hard drives.

Closing Thoughts

While the growth of data is more top of mind today, these concepts of retention and data protection backups have been around for quite a while. As such, many solutions have arisen over the years. These include:

  • The native capabilities within Microsoft around retention policies,
  • Official records management
  • Things to protect the service level agreement around uptime and access
  • Being able to ensure data can be retrieved and accessible thanks to proper data protection

Take advantage of what you have outside of the box, figure out where gaps are, and look for solutions to help fill those gaps. Look at what you have to keep, what you want to keep, and what you want to get rid of. Efficiency is at the heart of any great data retention plan.


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