Business Documents are valuable items for your reputation – make sure they are safe
Whatever the size of your business, there is no getting away from the fact that you will have many documents that you will need to store. Certainly some of these can be stored electronically but for many regulations and legislation it is necessary to keep the original paper documents of older projects. The question is how do you keep those paper documents safe and secure and in a place where you can easily retrieve them if necessary?
Documents and files must be stored in a logical, organised way so that you have easy access to retrieve them but at the same time access must be controlled. Security is paramount when it comes to this valuable archive of your work. So if you want your documentation to be safe and secure take a look at these common mistakes and make sure they do not happen to your business’s valuable documents.
- Failing to know the latest laws – Regulations about what documents need to be kept and for how long can, and do, change so be aware of the latest legislation. You might think this is not going to be a problem if it just means that you are storing documents you no longer need (especially if you have a good storage deal so have plenty of inexpensive space for all your old paperwork) but what if you are not storing certain client documents and a new law is introduced requiring you to do so? That could be a potentially serious issue for you. You certainly don’t want to find yourself in the position of non-compliance if you do not keep up to date with recent regulations. Apart from potential fines there are more serious issues such as data security breaches and client confidentiality to consider.
- Storing records at your own premises – Using your own premises is a bad move for a number of reasons. It is probably not cost effective, as you could more easily find inexpensive document storage facilities elsewhere, but it is probably less secure too. Most businesses do not have a high enough level of security to protect confidential client paperwork. Any unscrupulous person looking to find sensitive data about your business will start by looking at your own premises.
- Failing to keep a document retention schedule – When it comes to archiving documents, it is essential to know what you need to keep under current regulations, of course, but it is also important not to keep more than you have to. For this reason you need to have a document retention schedule that is regularly reviewed and action taken to safely dispose of any out-dated documentation. This will free up storage space but also make the management of the retained documents easier – fewer stored documents make it easier to find the ones you do need.
- Remember to test your back–ups – Many documents can now be stored digitally but computer equipment can, and does, fail so you need to ensure you have a reliable backup process in place and that you test the process on a regular basis to be sure you could retrieve vital files if your main systems failed.