How to manage inactive records collections

Posted by TAB on

Inactive records management is an important component of a complete RIM program. At some point, space limitations and growing record volumes force organizations to deal with documents that aren’t used very often. The most common approach is to send inactive files to an offsite storage environment, which frees up room for business operations and for documents that are used more often.

This post provides an overview of the steps required to successfully manage inactive collections.

What exactly is an inactive record?

Inactive records are all of those records that do not need to be maintained on site for day-to-day use, but MUST be retained by an organization for administrative needs, retention policies, or legal compliance.

Preparing for managing inactive records

Before you can implement an inactive records collection process, we recommend starting with a comprehensive audit of the collections involved. During the audit, you can identify any unneeded documents and any records that are not correctly labelled based on your corporate classification scheme. Any documents that are no longer needed, such as duplicates or non-record material, can be securely destroyed. Records that aren’t correctly identified can be labeled with their classification code, which makes it possible to store, retrieve and destroy those documents when needed.

With these steps complete, you are ready to start implementing an inactive records process.

The inactive collections process

The following steps will help ensure a successful approach to managing inactive records collections:

  • Developing inactive records policies and procedures that map out exactly which documents are eligible, and which steps to follow when certain criteria are met. For example, you could have a policy that when accounting documents reach 12 months in age, they are eligible to be boxed up and moved to offsite storage (after applying the correct box labels).
  • Training staff on the new policies and procedures
  • Selecting an offsite storage facility, ensuring that the contract is flexible and does not include harsh penalties for removal of documents
  • As needed, applying records retention schedules to semi-active and inactive records
  • Boxing and identifying contents for future retrieval and destruction


Once you have moved your current batch to offsite storage, you then get into ongoing maintenance and management of inactive records, which can include:

  • managing occasional retrieval requests (with the help of RIM software)
  • moving newly inactive records into storage
  • monitoring retention and destruction of records when they reach the end of their lifecycle

Inactive records management saves time and money

When space is tight, our experience shows that the benefits of an inactive records program are well worth the effort to develop and maintain it. Removing inactive records from an active environment can save you money by reducing the space needed to store files, and returning that space to business operations. It will also save you time by improving the efficiency of your active storage spaces and daily file retrieval activities.

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