Documentation Tips: Archival

At the end of each project, it’s important to ensure your documentation – including e-mails, invoices, contracts, schedules, diagrams and anything else related to the project – can be easily located, retrieved, searched and referenced later.

Format and location

Transfer all project-related documentation into formats suitable for long-term storage, and identify a single location for archival of electronic records, with a corresponding physical location for hard copy materials. Store materials electronically where possible, and prepare hard copy materials in a medium suitable for archival (i.e., tapes, acid-free paper, etc.)

Originals

Some original documents, such as contracts, insurance policies and regulatory materials, may require archival in a separate location or indexing system from the bulk of your other project documentation. In those cases, once you’ve ensured the original is in the appropriate location, either place a copy in your main project file, or include a reference document that provides the location of the original.

Retention schedules

In all cases, it’s important to accurately label the material according to your organization’s document retention schedule. After you’ve determined the nature of each document, note the date the items should be reviewed and/or destroyed. Carefully label any items scheduled to be retained indefinitely, to prevent inadvertent destruction. Once a file reaches its scheduled review date, ensure your project management team makes sufficient time to review the documents prior to releasing them for destruction.

Purge

Keeping every scrap of project documentation isn’t efficient in terms of the space required to store materials, the effort needed to properly index and tag materials, or the time you’ll spend searching through materials later. Instead, carefully evaluate documents during the project wrap-up phase and determine what needs to be retained and what can be purged. Eliminate duplicate copies, rough drafts and any other items that are accurately and completely captured elsewhere.

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