Fidentia, Enron and Andersons Consulting are stark reminders of the risks that businesses and organisations whose record keeping is not compliant with the laws and regulations that govern records management in the countries in which they are based and in which they do business. Corporate failures, severe fines, qualified audit reports and even imprisonment face guilty organisations, aside from the long term damage to reputations.
Compliance is however not just about working within the law. Compliance is also about adherence to the regulations and standards that govern respective industries. Although not always appreciated, these are generally designed to ensure the effective functioning of organisations and the market in which they operate, plus they are designed to protect the interests of stakeholders.
Compliance from a records management perspective should therefore not be considered as a necessary evil, but rather as an effective tool in the management of a successful business or organisation. Perhaps more importantly is that compliance should not be looked at in isolation but rather in conjunction with the practical needs of the business or organisation. For example the law may only require you to keep copies of invoices for say five years, however the product that you sold may come with a 10-year warranty or buy-back. In this instance it would make sense to keep the invoice for the full duration of the warranty or buy-back agreement.