Maintaining records of important documents not only keeps your office organized, it ensures your business’s credibility. Bank statements, tax records or contracts are among some of the documents businesses save as records, representing a significant investment in time and resources.
These records can be a key tool in protecting your organization’s liability in a variety of areas and can provide an essential audit trail. To make sure your business is storing documents correctly, take a look at these ten records management mistakes to avoid:
1. Keeping records management in house. This is where most businesses start, but the need to move past this phase is critical. When files accumulate and office space is becomes limited, it’s time to consider records storage to safeguard your documents and avoid clutter. In house storage is the most expensive and least secure option for inactive physical files, electronic messages, and information captured by your various databases.
2. Procrastinating the off-site facility move. Putting off the decision to protect vital records and establish business guidelines threatens business continuity after a disruption or disaster. Don’t wait for a disaster to force you to take action.
3. Not putting together a consistent retention schedule. Should that file stay or should it go? Your records retention schedule determining how long to keep files before having them properly shred must be based on legal and regulatory requirements. Your program should have formal procedures that are consistent across all departments to keep the process simple.
4. Not properly organizing and indexing files. The old adage that failing to plan is planning to fail applies here. Records storage is about finding information when you need it, not just getting it off the premises. At Gilmore Services, we use barcode scanning to organize all of your documents digitally.
5. Choosing a self-storage unit for off-site storage. A storage unit with a pad lock is a weak defense. A state-of-the-art alarm system with motion detectors is the industry standard. You also want a record storage center with protection from insects, rodents, fire and other threats to your records.
6. Not shredding documents on a regular basis. Criminals often “dumpster dive” to see what they can find. But they are not the only ones to watch out for. Your competitors, private investigators and the news media may want to know what is in your trash. Make sure your documents don’t fall into the wrong hands by using professional records shredding.
7. Not hiring a record storage center that meets industry standards. How do you make sure you are dealing with a storage management vendor that follows industry standards? Ask for their industry affiliations. Gilmore Services, for example, is a member of the Professional Records & Information Services Management (PRISM), the American Records Management Association (ARMA) and the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID).
8. Not putting digital media in an off-site location. Your electronic media also requires storage. Special consideration should be given to safety and security, as well as the climate within the location for your digital information.
9. Not providing quality control checks to ensure the viability of data. Long-term protection of your business’s information often requires rotation of information stored on electronic media. Ideally, off-site electronic media storage with regular rotation and updates is part of a complete program of data back up.
10. Not keeping up with current laws and regulations. Legislators, regulators, and the courts are serious about enforcement of privacy laws. With identity theft on the rise, you can expect more compliance issues. A records storage center with national affiliations can help you stay on top of proper retention and disposal of records.
Your business has the opportunity to become organized and compliant with regulations all by properly storing and shredding important documents. Interested in learning more about records management? Contact us today for information.
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