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The trigger indicates the event that prompts the start of the retention period.  It tends to be based on either a defined period related to the business process it supports (e.g. termination of a contract or project, closure of a service user case file) or on a defined period after the record is superseded (e.g. policy or procedure).

For many records series, the trigger will be the end of the current year to which the record relates. Where this is the end of the current financial year, this has been stipulated in the schedules. Where the trigger given is “End of current year”, the definition of what constitutes “end of year” will need to be defined locally (e.g. calendar year, financial year, academic year etc.).

As triggers are so tied into business processes, an important step in the implementation of retention schedules will be to map the trigger to a specific business process step (e.g. within the staff termination process or project closure process).