Records are vital in all sectors that people undertake. We keep farming records, hospital records, learning institution records, and business records. All files help to project the future by referring to the past. We shall focus on business records for our case. A business record at a glance is any piece of information preserved or stored by an organization for a specified duration for the following reasons
- Storing business records is crucial for audit purposes
- Files can also provide evidence for litigation purposes
- It is a law requirement to store tax documents for not less than seven years.
- Enterprises use records in like budget records to forecast the future
- Suppliers and customer records are useful for future reconciliation, and hence storing them is vital.
Maintaining business and other records is vital, but storing them beyond their useful life is a waste of space and may expose critical business information. The significant risk that comes with storing documents is determining which materials to destroy and which ones to retain. To end the dilemma that comes with document storage, I have several ideas to help you. It is good to note that both soft copies, as well as hard copy records, require proper storage. I will deal with physical file management as of now. You need to bear the following in mind while planning to store your records.
- Develop a policy that will determine how long you retain records before transferring them to the archive or destroying them.
- Make sure you note down the records you are transferring
- Note down all the documents you want to destroy before shredding them.
Transferring Records To An Inactive Records Facility
Files and other records occupy office space, so they need to transfer to inactive storage to create room for other current documents. Records are only vital in the office when they are supporting the ongoing operation and require transfer when they no longer support the current operations
Record Accessioning And Coding
Records should bear color codes and accession for easier retrieval in the future from the inactive storage facility. The best practice is to store files of the same year together.
Managing Record Disposition
Managing records is a process that needs control right from creating the document to disposing of it. Make sure you have a database of all new files created and all records that require destruction. Have a regular time frame for running the database to meet the storage deadlines
Offsite Record Storage
Documents can occupy a lot of your space, depending on the number of employees and the scope of operations of your business. Outsourcing document storage services from outside can save you space, and risks like fires that may destroy your documents. The file storage service providers ensure the safety of your files since this is their specialization.
Methods Of Destroying Records
How do you destroy paper records? Please do not give me the answer because I already know it. Many people will tell me about burning. Burning is the worst way of destroying documents because papers contain chemicals, and in the process of combustion, they release harmful toxins to the environment. The second disadvantage of burning records is that some may only smoke at the surface, and wind may blow them away and end up concealing confidential information.
The best way of destroying records is by shredding them. Document shredding for small businesses is vital to exercise, and the following three approaches are applicable.
A mobile shredding machine visits your organization to perform the task as agreed. The advantage of mobile shredding is that you witness the process of destroying documents to make sure no material can conceal information. You receive a certificate of destruction from the service provider after the operation.
2.Buying a Paper Shredder
Small businesses prefer having their paper shredders to destroy routine documents rather than contract someone from outside to do the job.
3.Offsite shredding facility
Document shredding for small businessess can be intricate if the business stores documents for a very long time. Piling documents for a long duration will require the business to hire a shredding expert who will come and load the files to trucks and transport them elsewhere for destruction. The main undoing with this method is that you do not witness the process and, therefore, no guarantee of the process.
Qualities of an excellent record storage Facility
Your record storage facility should be well constructed and adhere to specific rules and guidelines. The following features should be present while setting up a storage facility.
1.Fire Protection system
Fire can ruin all your records in case of an outbreak; therefore, proper firefighting plans are handy when setting your storage.
- Ensure you install smoke detectors to alert you during a fire outbreak.
- Regular servicing fire extinguishers for fighting various fires is vital
- Make sure there is a pressurized supply of water near your record storage area.
2.Security Monitoring System
Your record storage systems should have proper controls for persons who can access the facility. You can install CCTV if you can or have a guard to man the facility. Making sure the facility is always under key and lock is significant.
Your record storing facility should be free from infrared and visible lights. Light causes fading, weakening, and turning documents yellowish. Lights should only assist you while retrieving and tracing papers. Installing blinds for eliminating sunlight and turning of lights while not using the storage facility can help maintain your records in proper for a long time.
4.Temperature And Humidity
Ensure that your archive is not so humid because much humidity can result in dampness and growth of molds, which destroy your documents before their usefulness diminishes. Aeration of the files is so important, and installing air conditioners is vital.
Your archive planning should consider some factors like the direction of the wind and the risks of flooding. If your archive is prone to flooding, it means your records may become wet, which might signal the beginning of your files. If the wind is allowed access to your archive, it will tear your documents into pieces and ruin them before their usefulness lapses.