Putting an effective records management solution in place takes time, organization, and commitment. A solid record keeping procedure can help keep your company compliant, enable more streamlined access to information, and protect sensitive information over time. The anatomy of a successful records management plan includes things like:
- Defined roles and responsibilities
- Consistent assessments
- Procedures for archiving
- Accurate retention scheduling
However, there are some things to avoid when it comes to records management. Here are five common mistakes that can prevent you from achieving the solid records management plan you need.
1) Keeping all sensitive info in a single file or folder.
Some businesses keep all their employee information and financial records in a single file or folder on a computer or employer network. As a best practice, employee information should not be stored in the same place as client or patient information. These should have separate files so that only credentialed employees can access client data and secure employee information.
What’s more, storing all important information in a single folder can be risky. If the data in that one file is lost, then it can be difficult or impossible to recover without a backup.
2) Not having a backup copy of vital documents.
Not having a backup copy of vital documents can be disastrous. Fire, flood, or theft can destroy information in a paper folder, while a hard-drive crash or digital security breach can destroy information kept online or on a database. These days, there’s no excuse not to have a backup. Some companies might have paper duplicates, but with document scanning services, information can easily be scanned and uploaded to an external hard drive or a cloud database.
3) Being unaware of records that need to be stored.
Different industries require different compliance standards when it comes to keeping records on file. It’s important to know which information and which types of documents need to be kept on file and where to find them. As a records management professional, be sure to stay aware of the compliance measures in your industry and coordinate secure document storage for to the correct files.
4) Not keeping records as long as the law or regulations require.
In addition to keeping the right information on file, it’s important to know when paper documents and digital information (such as hard drives and CDs) can and should be destroyed. Establish a retention schedule to keep yourself on track with information disposal and minimize the risk of keeping documents on file for too long.
5) Not keeping records secure.
One of the most important things a records management professional can do is work to keep existing records secure. While this can mean many different things depending on the nature of your business, the overall goal is access to records, sensitive documents, and important information be limited and controlled.
For some facilities, this means keeping documents under lock and key in a file cabinet or office. For many others, it means storing documents off site in a secure, temperature-controlled records storage facility where access is limited to credentialed employees. For others, it means keeping important information in a digital format with a controlled user base.
When it comes to proper record keeping for your business, be sure to stay aware of policies and procedures, always keep a backup, and keep security a top priority. To learn more records management tips, download our guide to learn if your small business records are in danger.