Three Ways to Improve Your Records Management in 2020
Is your organization drowning in files? Very much like financial assets and other business resources, your company’s information is an asset. But what happens if the right records can’t be located when you need them? Whether you have too much data, you don’t have a records management system in place or you are not in compliance and potentially in danger of legal risks, that strategic asset can quickly become a liability.
A brand new year is an excellent time to recommit to incorporating some best practices into your records management. Here are three important steps that will get you on a path to increasing productivity, decreasing costs & minimizing risk through solid records management:
- Revisit Your Document Retention Policy or Guidelines. Depending upon the type of business you’re in there are some state and federal guidelines that require you keep certain types of documents for a standard amount of time. Beyond those requirements, how long you keep other records is at the discretion of your company. Regardless of the nature of your business, having a set policy in place that establishes your organization’s specific guidelines for different kinds of documents can save headaches and ultimately protect you from litigation, fines, or other risks.
- Review your policy to ensure any changing regulatory requirements are covered.
- Be clear about how documents should be stored and secured. Are you only required to keep digital files or are paper files required? Learn more about the benefits of storing hard copies here.
- Make sure everyone in the organization understands the policy and knows the risks of not adhering to it.
- If your current policy is disorganized, clean it up.
- If you don’t already have a policy in place, establish one.
- Properly Dispose of Old Files. Keeping files that you no longer need can open you up to risk if there is a data breach and could potentially cause you to be considered out of compliance. So, proper disposal of files that no longer need to be retained should be an important part of your process.
- Incorporate your process for secure document disposal into your Document Retention Guidelines
- Understand the requirements associated with the types of information and documents you will be disposing of. If regulations require you to provide documentation of secure shredding, using an office shredder probably is not sufficient. Your best bet is to reach out to a professional shredding service provider.
- Establish a Plan for Ongoing Monitoring/Maintenance. Don’t wait until next year to take these steps again. Responsible records management is an ongoing process. Once you have a strategy and systems in place, your retention practices become more manageable – even as your company’s data and records grow.
- Consider an internal team or task force committed to regularly reviewing and updating your records retention policy
- Keep those who regularly need to access documents for their input on the process and how it can be improved.
A strong records management program will pay your organization back in better cost management, increased productivity and limitation of legal and compliance risks.
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