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The Importance of a Records Retention Policy

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 23, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Writing many office policies, I cannot count the times that having a template or base document would have proven valuable. I am amazed at how little people are willing to share outside of SDA. However, sharing our experiences, information, and knowledge is a valued benefit, and I am glad to have the opportunity to partake.

A Records Retention Policy may not be what most of us are eager to write; however, they are important. A good policy can help you increase efficiency, productivity, help maintain compliance with the ever-changing regulatory requirements, and minimize storage costs and risk of fines and penalties due to keeping outdated information past its lifetime in the event of a law suit. 

We all can agree that using shared information and templates do not eliminate our responsibility to ensure compliance with our state statutes and regulations. They are not meant to be all-encompassing. Nor is the template that is I am sharing today.  It is merely a good place to start.

If you are developing a policy for your firm, it is advisable to have a Principal/Owner review it, and if possible, have your legal advisor "bless" it too.

You can find a Sample Records Retention Policy Template here.


What policy templates do you need or do you have that others might benefit from? Share your thoughts in the comment box below. 




Brooke Simcik, CDFA is the Business Manager for VAI Architects Incorporated in Dallas, Texas.

She currently serves as the SDA 2019-2020 National President.






Tags:  Records Retention Policy  SDA  Society for Design Administration 

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SDA National President's Message - August 2019

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 19, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, August 21, 2019


SDA National President, Brooke Simcik, CDFA, shares her August 2019 message.

Tags:  blockchain technology  education  leadership  President's Message  presidents video blog  SDA  voip 

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Welcome to Our Newest SDA Members

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 1, 2019
Updated: Thursday, August 1, 2019

Please join us in welcoming our newest SDA members:

First Name Last Name Firm Chapter
Brittany Jamison Cross 2 Design Group Seattle
Ariel Kahan Maurice Walters Architect Member-at-Large - Washington, DC
Sarah Lippai BuildingWork Seattle
Avis Maclean Pond Atlanta
Leticia Magallanez Lopez Salas Architects San Antonio
Vanissa Murphy Quality Engineering & Surveying Baton Rouge
Joan Ortiz TLC Engineering Solutions, Inc. Orlando
Melissa Pinilla Marmon Mok San Antonio
Brad Richard Cajun Consutriction General Contractors, Inc. Atlanta
Laura Snider CTC Design Studio Atlanta
Virginia Woodard Pfluger Architects San Antonio


Be sure to connect with our newest members on SocialLink and encourage them to join in our many discussions!

Tags:  New Members  SDA  Society for Design Administration 

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Can Becoming a Better Writer Make You A Better Person?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, July 16, 2019

While at EDSymposium19 I attended a seminar entitled “Fat-Free Gracewriting” presented by Judy Straalsund.   It explained the importance of writing in a way that makes it easy for your reader to understand your message.  As a writer we want to be sure we convey our information in a way that makes a connection between us and the reader. 

But have you ever considered how becoming a better writer can make you a better person?  Recently I read an article "Why Writing Will Make You a Better Person" in The Chronicle of Higher Education authored by Bob Fischer, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Texas State University and Nathan Nobis, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Morehouse College that offers a different argument.  Their thesis is that writing is an ethical activity and how we treat others is an ethical concern.  As writers it matters how we view and treat our readers.  Although the article was written for graduate students and faculty members, the ethical norms cited can benefit all writers.

Norms that should motivate good writing include trying to do good things and avoid causing bad ones; respect your readers as valuable and rational beings; and follow the Golden Rule.  As a writer remember how you like to be treated as a reader.  Apply the traits you most value to your writing.  The professors stated there are moral considerations that are relevant to how you write what you write.  If you want to do more to be better understood, include these considerations in your writing.  As much as possible, use ordinary words.  Don’t ask rhetorical questions.  And finally – revise your document as often as you think you should.   And then, if necessary, revise some more.

As the professors stated, it’s hard to become a good writer.  But then, it’s hard to become a good person.  Can becoming a better writer make you a better person?  Share your thoughts in the comment box below.



Marsha Witherspoon, CDFA serves as SDA National Treasurer for the 2019-2020 term.

She is a Member-at-Large from Columbus, Ohio.

Tags:  Better Person  Better Writer  SDA 

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Emergency Planning/Business Continuity

Posted By Administration, Thursday, July 11, 2019
Updated: Thursday, July 11, 2019



With Tropical Storm Barry heading toward the Gulf Coast this week, our SDA Baton Rouge Chapter shared their Emergency Planning checklist during their recent chapter meeting. It was developed by the chapter in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina and it has been shared and used ever since.  Whether your weather in your area includes hurricane season or other potential natural disasters, here’s a good checklist to get you thinking about your office’s emergency plan.


Before the Storm


  • Call all staff members together for a meeting to discuss emergency plans
  • Provide staff members resources for their personal safety from such sites as:  National Weather Service, FEMA, Hurricane Tracking Chart
  • Create a phone tree or directory of all staff members including their home phone number, cell phone number and personal email addresses
  • Consider any payroll deadlines that may be missed during storm/emergency
  • Forward phone lines to someone’s cell phone


  • Divide current client list and designate staff members to contact the client to check on well being of client and keep them apprised of status of firm
  • Check calendars for appointments on days immediately following storm and either cancel or reschedule


  • Back up all data
  • Secure server/move to better location
  • Distribute back up data


  • Take pictures of the building and equipment to document what is there
  • Unplug all electrical equipment
  • Move critical equipment into more secure area away from windows and doors
  • Drape electronics in plastic bags or other waterproof materials
  • Clean out the refrigerator
  • If there is danger of water intrusion to the building, consider removing files from bottom file drawers to safer location
  • Have a copy of insurance policy and contact information

After the Storm


  • Contact staff members/initiate phone tree to check on everyone and advise on return to work schedule
  • Have staff members take files that may be needed to work offsite on a thumb drive


  • Contact active clients to check on them and apprise them of the firm’s status
  • If office is closed consider posting a contact number on the door for clients


  • If payments were missed due to storm, ask about waiving late fees or additional charges
  • If cannot return to office consider moving server to site with electricity
  • If a generator is used to supply power to desktop computers, be sure to charge the battery backup first and then plug the computer system into the backup.  Do not plug your system directly into the generator.  If using a laptop computer, a surge protector is sufficient to protect it from fluctuating current provided by the generator
  • Access to the internet may not be available so consider purchasing a wireless air card


  • If building has damages, take pictures of building and equipment to document damage
  • Contact insurance company

Are there other items that you would add to this list? Share them in the Comment Box below.


Special thanks to Robin Rayburn and the SDA Baton Rouge Chapter for compiling and sharing this timely information.

Tags:  Business Continuity Planning  Emergency Plan Checklist  Emergency Planning  SDA 

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