Written by Nora Mork on 14 June 2019
Your business records reflect a large amount of company time and resources. They are critical in protecting your company in a number of situations and are invaluable in audits. Below is a list of mistakes in record management that you should avoid when managing your records.
It’s critical for businesses to move away from in-house storage options as they are the most expensive and least secure for your files, emails, and data servers. One of the first steps should be to establish business continuity guidelines and protect company records in the event of a disruption or disaster, and the primary way of doing this is to move your records to an off-site location.
Once you’ve decided to make the move to an off-site facility, it’s highly important to choose the right place. It’s not sufficient to put your records in a storage container and slap a padlock on the door – these days, the industry standard is a state-of-the-art alarm system, motion and sound detection, climate control, and protection from insects, rodents, fire and any other threats to your organization’s records. There are many ways you can make sure the storage center meets industry standards. Bobby Greene, a business writer at Australian help and State of writing, suggests that you “ask for their industry affiliations, such as Professional Records & Information Services Management (PRISM), ASIS International, the American Records Management Association (ARMA), the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID), and the National Records Center (NRC).”
If a storage facility is a member of one of these organizations, it means they have met the applicable standards for the industry and you can rest assured your records will be stored in a state-of-the-art facility.
Every business has this type of redundant, obsolete and trivial data, and many simply do not know how to handle those records. Just because the data is obsolete or trivial, it does not mean that it can be discarded or stored in any which way. The first thing to do to tackle this problem is to create an information governance program and invest in a software that will allow you to identify this sort of data and classify it in a way that saves you continuously buying more storage to expand and store ROT data which is no longer necessary to your company’s operations.
When you come up with a records management solution that works for your company, make sure this includes all of your data, including file sharing an email. If your records management plan only includes certain types of data stores, or the facility you’ve selected is only equipped to handle certain types of data, your organization will only suffer in the long run and have an even bigger problem to surmount down the road. Alex Mourne, a project manager at Academized and Paper fellows, reminds companies that records management solutions “start at indexing and organizing your files from the very beginning of your operations. It’s not enough to simply move them off-site, but there has to be a clear system for doing transferring the records, and being clear on how to continue to operate moving forward.”
It’s highly important to follow the proper disposal rules of your documents. It’s easy enough to implement a solution and use it, but many people get nervous and cold feet when it comes time to disposing permanently of your records. The first step is ensuring the policy reflects a clear approval process before anything is disposed of, and this should ideally be automated so that users can be responsible for their approvals. The disposal itself should also be easy and automated or transfer to an off-site facility. Don’t forget to dispose of your material appropriately including regular shredding of key records. There is a real threat of dumpster divers, which can be criminals intent on selling or using your information for nefarious purposes. Bear in mind that competitors, news sites, and investigators may all be interested in the contents of your recycling and garbage.
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