Information Body of Knowledge

Retention Management

Retention Management Definition

Retention Management is the post-Records practice of focusing on the retention periods of groups of information, across all organizational information rather than segmenting records apart from the rest of the organization's information. This is often an easier method to achieve basic levels of compliance or automation than a Records Management approach. Organizations that move towards this model are often lightly regulated and/or entrepreneurial-minded.

InfoBOK v1.0

Retention Management Key Points

  1. In a Retention Management approach to information there is no separation of Records from information.
  2. The focus of Retention Management is on retention periods and disposition, across all organizational information.
  3. Techniques utilized in Retention Management may include auto-classification technologies.
  4. Disposition of information is often automated (but may include human interaction).
  5. Policy drives retention management techniques and potential use.
  6. Records Management (and both Traditional Records Management and Electronic Records Management) reject the Retention Management approach and an organization must select either Retention Management or Records Management - organizations cannot use both.
  7. Retention Management cannot be utilized as an approach by organizations that have Records requirements placed on them by regulation or requirement.

Retention Management Overview

Retention Management is a newer approach that has sprung up in opposition to Records Management, the goal of which is to ensure all organizational information is properly retained and properly disposed. It is essentially Information Management without the subset of Records Management being utilized, taking some of the tenets of Records Management and applying them across all organizational information instead of just Records.

With the rise of Discovery (see “Discovery/eDiscovery”), some organizations have considered Retention Management as the only reasonable approach to ensure compliance as Discovery requests do not ask for “all relevant Records related to X”, they ask for “all relevant information related to X”. This approach takes the view that the only way to reduce risk is to take a more holistic approach to all information as opposed to focusing only on Records since they view that differentiation as irrelevant to their organization.

The Retention Management approach often has issues related to complying with regulations that specifically refer to Records. This can make this approach unfeasible for all Government entities in the U.S. and Canada (and other countries), as well as most highly regulated industries.

Retention Management remains an immature discipline in comparison to Records Management. While the goals of Retention Management are clear, ensuring risk reduction is not assured with this technique at this point. Therefore, we cannot recommend it, at this time.

Additional Resources

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Information Coalition Resources on Retention Management

Some resources are available only to Professional Members or Standard Members (free).

The Records Perspective – Aligning Information Governance and Records


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Join Todd Dietrich (BDO), John Krysa (ICRM), and Angela Watt (City of Spruce Grove) for an interactive discussion on how to align Records and Information Management with Information Governance. Using the kaleidoscope of experiences, they will discuss how both concepts are defined, and how to use that to get corporate buy-in to move the needle on your strategies. Bring your own ways of defining the scope because this will be a lively discussion where you a sure to learn different perspectives!

Defensible Disposition: A Cohesive Strategy (MacDonald / Hunter, In Conjunction with the Law Firm IG Symposium)


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Defensible disposition is a critical component to managing costs and risk, and a key element of law firm IG procedures. Disposition initiatives have historically been challenging for law firms to undertake. However, many firms have had to take a more active step forward to execute their retention programs. This session will discuss the various considerations and strategy for implementing and executing a disposition program, including pitfalls, opportunities and regulatory and client considerations and how to demonstrate ROI.

Records Disposition: Challenges & Opportunities – Painting A House (Andrew Keller)


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Disposition is a process that poses many challenges. Records are dispersed in many disparate systems and storage mechanisms. There is a lack of central control which makes the process complex and highly manual. The process to obtain appropriate reviews, approvals, exceptions, and sign-offs is either nonexistent or overly burdensome. In this session, we will highlight the opportunities for cost saving and risk reduction through a defensible disposition program.

Nick Inglis – “The World Is Round: How To Meet The Challenges of the New World of Information”


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Taking pages from history, Inglis, President of the Information Coalition, shares the stories of Galileo Galilei and A&P Supermarkets to illustrate lessons for Records Management. Inglis shows that there are really only 6 ways to move forward with Records Management into the future and helps participants understand how to evaluate each of those methods for viability in their organization.

Format: Presentation & Discussion (featuring Alan Pelz-Sharpe, Sandra Serkes, Steve Weissman, and Nick Inglis)

The Information Governance Conference 2018