Staying organized with documents allows businesses to make informed, accurate and timely decisions. When files aren’t properly retained or are kept past their “shelf-life,” the business is putting itself at risk in the event of an audit, plus it may not be complying with the many state and federal records-related regulations.
What better time than mid-year to review your records management policies and purge any files that have reached the end of their retention periods.
The following are tips to consider when updating your files:
- What to keep: This will depend on your industry, so consult your legal and accounting staff, as well as a records management center.
- How long should information be kept: The seven year rule does not apply to all documents. Talk with a trusted advisor to determine specific retention periods. Never keep things just to be safe, because during an audit, all records can be looked at regardless of age.
- Preserve information for its full retention period: Make sure you can read what you keep. In addition to securing information with locks and passwords, store information in a climate controlled, dust free location. Make backups and store them in separate locations.
- Properly destroy unneeded information: Confidential destruction of records is crucial. A professional shredding service can provide you with a certification of destruction.
- Destroy old hard drives: Even if you have deleted everything off old computers and copier hard drives, the information could still be there. Seek out a vendor that can destroy the entire hard drive, making it unreadable.
- Simplify things: To save time and resources, consider transitioning hard copy files to electronic formats housed on a secure, password protected website.
Getting organized can take time, but having control of your records will provide you with the information you need to make informed business decisions. How does your business stay organized and on top of records management?