Chances are, you’re already doing an excellent job of information governance in at least one area of your organization.
You probably have a written policy, sternly enforced, that requires everybody to complete and sign a timesheet every day or every week. Employees and managers are accountable for their timesheets.
When you sign your own timesheet, or approve for your direct reports, you probably certify that the information accurately represents the work that was done – you vouch for the integrity of each timesheet.
Once timesheets have been submitted, they can’t be changed without a fair amount of hassle. They’re probably filed away under lock and key, or password protected so you can only see your team’s timesheets. They are protected as business records.
Someone in accounting probably checks them before payroll is run, looking for inadvertent errors in coding, making sure overtime has been approved, ensuring overall compliance with labor laws, contract terms and company policy.
Once the payroll cycle is complete, the timesheet data is available for billing, for contract and accounting audits, for job costing reports, or for any questions that come up later about who worked on what.
Your timekeeping and labor tracking policies are almost certainly published in your employee handbook or on your company intranet, form part of the company’s accounting policies, and may be included in proposals submitted to new customers. Management is transparent about how your company tracks time.
Timesheets are retained for an appropriate period of time – at least until the contract is closed out, or the year’s tax return is past its statute of limitations. In fact, you probably keep them longer than you should.
When you do get rid of them, you probably don’t just chuck them in the trash. You dispose of them with a shredder, or archive them electronically and remove them from your active systems.
Accountability, Integrity, Protection, Compliance, Availability, Transparency, Retention and Disposition: ARMA’s Generally Accepted Record Keeping Principles® form the basis for a solid, workable information governance program. You already know how to do it right. Now start extending the principles to the next area that needs attention.