Records Management Best Practices

Effective records management is important to preserve the history and the security of our University and to avoid potential risks of a breach. University departments can contribute to the preservation of the University’s records by following the University's Records Management Best Practices.

Some of the major benefits of records management include:

  • Compliance with statutory regulations and University requirements.
  • Reduce cost by only storing those records that need to be retained per University policy.
  • Improve records retrieval to support operating, audit and litigation document requests by maintaining accurate inventory.
  • Minimize litigation risk by retaining records only for the period of time required by statutory regulation and/or University policy.
  • Ensure records that have historical value are place in the University’s Archives.

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    Here are 5 key strategies to help you manage your department's records:

    Identify What’s Essential: Not all documents are records, and as such not all documents are important. It is key that you identify what kinds of documents your department produces that are actually critical to the operation of your department. These are the records that you need to keep, and you need to determine how long you need to keep them. 

    Select a Data Custodian, or 2: One of the keys to effective records management is, of course, management. Every department should have 1 or 2 people who are responsible for maintaining the department’s records storage account. This includes monitoring inventory, reviewing retention/destruction dates, requesting services, and more. Having these individuals in place allows for greater accountability and efficiency. 

    Create a Records Plan, and Stick to It: A records plan is a comprehensive guide for the management of your records. This plan should include records names/types, records function, record retention and destruction, and other specific instructions that provide guidance for the effective management of records. 

    Conduct “Spring Cleaning”: Every year, perform at least one “spring cleaning” of your Iron Mountain account. Review inventory, and identify those records that are eligible for destruction. If you have a large inventory of records, you may want to do this twice a year so that it doesn’t seem as daunting a task. 

    Learn, Learn, Learn: Iron Mountain offers a wealth of training material, from WebEx sessions to downloadable guides, that can help you better manage your records storage account, including inventory management, cost analysis, and more. Check them out here, and arm yourself with the knowledge that will make a difference.
    Source: Iron Mountain, Federal Aviation Administration, Ohio State University


    The University’s policy is to comply with all federal, state and local laws regarding retention and disposition of University records. Each department of the University has primary responsibility for the safeguarding of University records created by their areas or under their control.

    This responsibility includes: 1) compliance with the Records Retention Schedule for each type or series of records within their possession; 2) disposing of records upon expiration of the Retention Period in an approved manner and 3) complying with all aspects of governmental regulations and statues (See the Record Retention Policy).

    Key Concept: Retain only those original records for which your department has primary responsibility and only for the time period established in the Record Retention Schedule. For example, copies of accounts payable invoices do not need to be retained in departments because the original document is maintained centrally in Accounts Payable.


    A complete inventory of records must be maintained by departments. Each department has responsibility for properly identifying records sent to storage (See Sample Document Inventory).

    Key Concept: Maintaining an accurate inventory of records in storage will enable accurate and timely retrieval of records as well as the timely destruction of records that have reached the end of their retention period.


    The Record Retention Schedule describes the official retention period for each type of record at the University (See Records Retention Schedule). Records should not be maintained after the official retention period. Record types that are not listed on the Record Retention Schedule should be brought to the attention of Spend Management for review and inclusion in the Record Retention Schedule.

    Key Concept: Retaining records for the retention period ensure compliance with statutory regulations.


    Official University records are not to be destroyed before the end of the Retention Period as indicated in the Records Retention Schedule. Prior to destroying records, departments must review their inventory, identify records that have met the University Retention Period and ensure that the records are not subject to litigation or audit holds.

    Key Concept: Timely destruction of records that have reached the end of their retention period will reduce future audit and litigation risks as well as eliminate unnecessary storage expense. The office of the General Counsel and Controller will advise department directly when an audit or litigation hold is place on specific records.


    The University Archives is the official institutional repository of records that document the history of the University of Miami. The University Archives identifies, collects, and preserves materials that have enduring historical value. Records transferred to the University Archives are subsequently administered by the University Archives and made available to researchers unless restrictions are specified in the Records Transfer Form or required by law.

    Key Concept: A thorough review of records prior to storage or destruction will ensure that historically significant records are retained. When in doubt about the historical significance of records, consult with the University Archivist, before sending materials to the Archives.

    More information is available at


    The University of Miami has several enterprise information platforms for managing content, processes and cases. These platforms provide enterprise content management (ECM), case management, business process management (BPM), records management and capture. Scanning of records provides a cost effective method of storing University records. Most records which are kept in a digital format should not also be kept in a hardcopy format. If records are scanned and indexed in an approved University format, the hardcopy document should be destroyed using the University's approved methods.

    Key Concept: Imaging records reduces storage cost and facilitates access and retrieval of records. Imaged records are subject to the same retention periods as hard copy records.

    For assistance with selecting the right imaging platform for your needs, please visit UM Information Technology.