From creation to destruction: the life cycle of a record

You thought life cycles were only for animals and humans, right? Turns out, records have life cycles too! Obviously, these life cycles are extremely different from one another, but all life cycles start and end the same way. So, what does that cycle look like for a record that many businesses deal with: an invoice?

The first phase is creation. As soon as you put pen to paper or hand to keyboard, you start creating something. On the flip side, if you receive a written or typed document, email, spreadsheet, or the like, then that also counts as record creation. When you receive an invoice in your email after purchasing something for your company online, that counts as creation of a record too.

The second phase is active use. The record might be in the creation phase for years, and then only stay in the second phase for a matter of minutes. Let’s hope something you spend years creating is used for more than a few minutes! More realistically, this phase lasts a few months. This is the time when that emailed invoice stays in your inbox or is saved in folder on your desktop or is even printed out lying on your desk. Maybe you’re referring back to that invoice when balancing the company’s checkbook, so you want to be able to get to it easily.

The third phase is inactive use/storage. The time has come, and you no longer need that record as much as you used to. You don’t need it right by your side anymore, but you don’t want to get rid of it just yet. Maybe you’re required to have proof of all company purchases for a set number of years. So this is when you would put your records into offsite storage.

The fourth phase is destruction. You know you’ll never need that record again. The amount of time legally required to keep that invoice has passed. Now it’s time for that record to be completely and securely destroyed. If your records were printed, they will get shredded. If your records were saved on a hard drive, the entire hard drive will get destroyed.

From creation to destruction, each phase of a record’s life cycle is important. As a records management company, Stevens & Stevens can advise you on all phases of record keeping and we’re the experts in knowing how to properly handle phases three and four. We provide secure, offsite storage for your records, so you can easily access them when you need to. When phase four rolls around, we have the proper equipment and processes to make sure your records are completely destroyed according to AAA NAID Standards. Learn more about our records storage here and our secure document shredding services here.

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