Published On December 12, 2022Even the most organized people and businesses can struggle to keep a handle on their records and documents.
Even the most organized people and businesses can struggle to keep a handle on their records and documents. If you want to make a change and finally tame the beast in 2023, read on.
Here are some top tips for document management that you can use to get things under control.
1. Have a System
The first thing you need to do is have a system to identify and organize your documents. This could be alphabetical for customer records, and numerical for invoices, purchase orders and work orders. What is important is that you decide on a system, document, and apply it consistently. Make sure that everyone who does any filing or storage of documents follows the same system, and limit people who have access to documents once they are stored.
2. Going It Alone
There’s a reason document storage and data management companies exist. It’s a lot easier to send a document request to a third party and have them find it and send it to you than to search mountains of dusty boxes yourself. Not to mention that professional document storage and data management companies have climate controlled facilities, 24 hour security and high tech data retrieval systems.
3. Not Scheduling Disposal of Records
You have to keep certain records for certain periods of time. Usually, a few years at least. But after that time, a digital copy on a server is better than a physical document in a box. If you don’t want to have to rent more space just to store your records, you need to create a schedule to dispose of old documents. We highly recommend implementing a recurring shred system, from a reputable document destruction company. These organization will provide you with shred bins and service them at regularly scheduled intervals.
4. Only Relying on Hardcopies
Floods happen. Fires happen. Mice happen. If you’re staking everything on one paper copy in a box somewhere, you’re gambling quite a lot. Physical records are required for some things, but you should always have digital copies too – and they should always be stored on a secure server, with at least one backup!
5. Not Disposing of Documents Properly
Bundling documents and tossing them in a dumpster is not proper disposal. There’s a whole cottage industry of identity theft that relies on this sort of poor disposal of documents. If you want to protect yourself from scammers or even industrial espionage, you need to use a proper document disposal method. At a minimum, you want to have a crosscut shredder, which will cut paper vertically and horizontally, leaving it in tiny blocks that are impossible to stick back together. Or you can hire a professional shredding company to do it for you.
6. Using the Wrong Kind of Storage
Storing records on site is a security risk. Anyone who wanted to look through your confidential documents need only to break into your office to find them. However, storing them just anywhere off site is also a risk. Some people use storage lockers or shipping containers for document storage off site. However, these are not monitored, and they are just as susceptible to fire, flooding or rodents as any part of your office.
The only places that have all those bases covered are companies that specialize in document storage. They invest in all the bells and whistles to keep your documents safe, so if you’re going for off site storage, that’s what you should choose.
7. Not Meeting Legal Retention Requirements
Yes, it’s a pain to have to keep documents for ten years (or even longer.) No, you don’t have the room or the desire to babysit dusty old boxes for the next decade. However, legal retention requirements are not optional. If the government says you have to keep your records, you have to keep your records. If you don’t have the space or you just want to keep them safer and easier to access, store them in a professional document storage facility. Out of sight, out of mind, but well within the legal requirements.
8. Not Choosing the Right Document Storage Partner
If or when you do decide to use a professional document storage service, you need to be careful who you choose. Make sure that you look for facilities that meet all legal requirements for document storage and find one that has a presence in your city. That way, you won’t have to spend a lot to courier documents back and forth. Ask to visit the facility if you can, and look for companies with extended hours, so you can get information when you need it.
9. Not Keeping Digital Backups Safely
Too many people back their digital copies up to a local server. However, if something were to happen to your office building, it’s likely your on site server would be involved too. Ideally, you should look for a secure off site digital storage option that has professional grade security.
10. Not Starting Sooner
You might think that document management is something you can put off. However, you will be surprised just how quickly all that paperwork can get out of control. Trying to make sense of it all after it’s already taken over can be very tough. So, it’s always best to think about document management before you think you’re going to need it. Because before you know it, you will.
Hopefully, these tips have given you some good ideas about upgrading and modernizing your own document management systems. If you’re not sure where to start or it’s just too overwhelming, it’s time to talk to a professional.
Iron Mountain specialize in end to end document storage solutions. So, no matter what kind of documents you need to store, and how you want to store them, we can help. Contact us to discuss your options, and to find a document management solution that will work for you.