Records Lifecycle

Records Lifecycle: All records have a lifecycle, albeit some longer than others. Records are created, used, kept for valid legal, fiscal, or administrative reasons, and more likely than not destroyed at the end of their lives, although some with enduring historical value will be maintained in an archives.

Records Management Lifecycle

Creation and/or Receipt: Records maybe created within an organization in many different ways including but not limited to

  • typing/word processing of a document
  • typing and sending of an email
  • construction of a spreadsheet
  • recording of a meeting
  • entering of a transaction within an enterprise system
  • the receipt of documents
  • the receipt of spreadsheets
  • the receipt of email

The creation or receipt of a record is the first phase of a record's life.

 Distribution & Use: Once a record has been created or received it goes through a phase of distribution and use. During this phase the record is frequently in use. This phase may last only a few hours in the case of a transient record or may last a few years in the case case of a short to long term record.

 Storage & Retrieval: While many records may be disposed of after their initial use, others are required to be kept for a longer period of time for legal, fiscal, or other administrative reasons. Since immediate access to these records is no longer required during this phase, they are typically stored offsite or offline so as not to burden the storage capacity of the operating office or the efficiency of the operating system.

 Destruction: The final phase for the majority of an organization's records is destruction. Destruction is accomplished in a variety of ways including, but not limited to:

  • disposal in trash or recycling bin
  • shredding
  • incineration
  • deleting of electronic file
  • shredding of optical disk

Records destruction should be documented appropriately. For more information on records destruction, please review Records Destruction. 

 Archives: For records that have an enduring historical value, their final disposition will be to reside in an archives, where they will be preserved for future research and use.