U.S. companies are required by law to retain documents and data in both physical and electronic format. Implementing comprehensive retention policies protects you from unnecessary risks while helping to control business costs. While there are many recent regulations that impact a company's content management strategy, people are most familiar with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which the U.S. Congress passed in October 1996, and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) which came into force in July 2002. SOX introduced major changes to the regulation of corporate governance and financial practice. Prior to its passage, no company in the U.S. had a system of controls, auditing and reporting in place that would completely satisfy the new law.
Enterprise content management helps put practices in place to ensure continued compliance which typically incorporates long-term archival storage. In addition, content management software provides tools for business process management and auditing, as well as document versioning. In general, a content management implementation should have the flexibility to address retention requirements specifi c to an organization's industry and the states in which it operates.
The exact length of time you need to retain documents and data varies between organizations and industries. The goal of archiving is to keep your documents around for as long as necessary in a manner in which you can search, process and retrieve them when required. When they are no longer needed, purge them from your system. By maintaining an audit log of purge events, you will be able to track deleted documents to further ensure compliance.