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Paper Record Management – Best Practices

paper record management

The digital era has brought considerable changes in the way businesses store records and paperwork. Today, many companies are going digital to store paperwork. However, going digital can still throw a huge curveball your way.

Just imagine the steps a single document takes around the office. It reaches a mailbox before being sorted by the receptionist. Then is sent to the accounts payable department, rests there for a few days before it’s opened, read and scanned, and sent to a filing cabinet. Until a day comes when there’s no space left for you to store any more documents, and you begin to review what to keep and what to discard.

Moving your paper-centric organisation to digital starts to seem like a herculean task. After all, this process may take weeks or even many months to put in place.

So what paper record management measures should you take in the short-term to improve efficiency, productivity and profit? Here are some best practices you can implement.

Assign Someone to Control Your Records

Do you know precisely where an invoice from 2013 is lying? Or even an agreement from last month?

It is essential to assign a document controller if you want to keep things efficient, organised and compliant. Choose a person whose role is to handle documents and is accountable for your document management policy. Assigning this role will help reduce the chances of records being mishandled or misplaced.

The records controller should put together a training programme to help all the other employees understand the procedures for archiving, indexing and retrieving documents.

They will be the primary point of contact with your records keeping company who can identify the precise location of any document at any point in time.

They will also be responsible for all expenses related to paper records management such as renting floor space, storage boxes and transportation costs.

By putting in a few hours every month, the document controller will be able to improve the efficiency and productivity of your entire company, saving your business precious time and money.

Put in Place a Record Retention Schedule

A record retention schedule is a critical part of good paper record management. The record retention schedule allows you to protect your business assets as well as avoid risk.

A record retention schedule is essentially a record of your records. It’s used to ensure you store a document only if it is operationally and legally necessary so that old records can be disposed of systematically.

A good record retention schedule will describe the document, the date it was created on, when it will be destroyed and who must approve the destruction when it’s time.

Indexing Policies

The effectiveness of your paper record management programme depends on how accessible the information is when there is a need. It’s essential to put in place multiple indexing parameters like the date of record creation, the name of the record creator, the subject matter and the intended recipient.

Appropriate indexing methods expedite the task of accessing records smoothly, which in turn provides a return on investment. Well-indexed records can be accessed easily and quickly which reduces the financial cost.

A poor indexing system can increase your burden considerably. When records cannot be retrieved efficiently, it increases your costs, the risk of litigation which will affect your reputation.

Choose the Right Box

Record management isn’t just about storing paperwork. It also impacts efficiency, security and compliance. If your filing room is a maze of different boxes lying around, you might find yourself in a compliance/auditing nightmare.

The type of box you choose to store your records in can make a huge difference. Be sure to select a box of the right size – not too big or not too small.

The right record keeping box is one that fits the records you are storing. Standard boxes are available for all sizes – legal, letter, letter bankers, legal bankers and more. Furthermore, it should not be too heavy when it’s full and should be able to be transported comfortably. Ideally not more than 15 kilos.

Accountability

Limiting the access of your business and corporate documents is a requirement of many compliance regulations.

An essential role of your document controller is to minimise exposure, risk and liability for the company. The document storage controller is familiar with your organisation’s policies and chain of custody for documentation. Their job is to improve accountability and help handle breaches smoothly.

Scheduling Disposal of Documents

Once every month, quarter or year, print out a list of all the documents that are ready for a retention review based on your retention schedule. This list should kick-off the process of destroying all documents that are no longer required.

A rigorously followed document destruction schedule avoids delays that impact your storage costs.

Consider connecting the information classification system with the retention schedule; this will make the process of document destruction quick and easy.

Avoid Storing in Self-Storage

Self-storage might seem like an affordable way to store your paperwork but can lead to more significant costs.

What happens if there is a fire? What if paint, liquid or some other form of hazardous material finds itself in the building where you have stored your records?

Not to mention, inclement weather, rodents and termites?

Efficient storage requires proper shelving which costs money and takes time to install. There are also expenses for driving to and from your office to the storage facility, overall increasing your cost considerably.

For best results and peace of mind, store your records with a records management company, it is safer and a more cost-effective method. What’s more, only a record management company like Compu-Stor that specialises in document and records management has the appropriate infrastructure in place with our highly secure, fire-protected and pest-controlled facilities. Our services provide solutions for the entire document lifecycle, from creation to merge and purge files, and scanning to document destruction. Our friendly, local team are on hand to provide advice and assistance and we also offer after hours deliveries, so you have around the clock access to your records. Compu-Stor can even scan your paperwork into your own highly searchable, highly accessible, secure digital archive and offer two-hour urgent document delivery service. You don’t get all these features with a self-storage facility.

Get in touch with Compu-Stor today for secure, efficient and reliable paper and digital record management.