How Successful Businesses Avoid Common Records Management Traps
Wed, Nov 04, 2015
By: Jim Beran
Running a successful business is a lot like juggling. You need to keep a lot of different things in the air at the same time, which means you’re in constant motion. Sometimes, to save the majority of these items, you need to let one or two drop.
Unfortunately, records management tends to be one of those items that gets “dropped” by businesses with too much to manage. It may be that companies don’t realize how important it is, or they have let it slide, thinking it will be easy to catch back up.
But that can be a slippery slope, getting out of hand very quickly. Let’s take a look at some common records management traps and how successful businesses avoid them.
Trap #1: Thinking records management is “no big deal.”
The fact is, failing to establish an effective records management strategy is not going to immediately jeopardize your business. Some companies have run well without proper records management for years, decades even. But ultimately, it’s a false sense of security. Why? Often, once a company realizes a need for proper records management, it’s usually too late and they're faced with disorganized or missing information or costly litigation.
There are federal and state regulations affecting how every company handles various types of business records. Failing to comply with these regulations can cause frustration and inconvenience at best and fines and even jail time at worst. Ultimately, records management is a big deal.
Successful companies view records management properly.
Realizing the potential for big problems related to non-compliance, identity theft, and other records management failures, successful businesses establish and maintain a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to storing and properly destroying paper and digital records of all kinds.
Trap #2: Thinking every employee knows exactly what to do.
This can happen when companies simply don’t have the bandwidth to keep up with every employee that handles records. Some common signs of this issue are:
- Bins that are set aside for sensitive records ending up with the regular recycling or trash.
- Misunderstandings among employees about which records are considered sensitive (requiring secure shredding or storage) and which are not.
- A general disconnect between management and the rank-and-file regarding the importance of sticking to records management procedures.
The fact is, it’s very difficult and costly to adequately train every employee in a medium-to-large company in the first place. It’s even harder to keep them all up-to-date on changing regulations and internal streamlining efforts.
Successful companies invest in adequate and continual training.
If the decision is to handle records management internally, successful companies realize it’s a long-term solution that requires up-front and ongoing investment in training and internal compliance verification. It’s not cheap or easy, but it is possible, and it’s the best option for companies hoping to successfully handle records management on their own.
Which brings us to the third pitfall.
Trap #3: Thinking they can handle records management on their own.
As noted above, proper records management, including secure offsite document storage, secure shredding, media retention scheduling, and much more, is a vitally important part of safely and securely running a business. But, doing so internally is potentially cost- and time-prohibitive.
Savvy business leaders often realize early in the process that they could use some outside help. An experienced vendor may be able to handle one or two pieces of the full plan, or the company may choose to outsource their records management needs completely.
Successful companies get the help they need.
If you’re unsure if your records management program is fully compliant, or if you’re spending way too much time, money, and effort trying to handle it all internally, contact Gilmore Services to find out about outsourcing some or all of your records management needs and download our guide below to learn more.