Every organisation must keep tabs on its internal and external transactions and operations. That’s why it’s essential to store business documents reflecting all the information that can be used as a reference in making reports, analysing performance, and other vital purposes.
These documents are called records, and record management makes data processing a valuable activity. However, data and record management goes beyond storing financial sheets and keeping customer information or performance indicators. Efficient data management covers document creation, file organisation, storage, and use.
If you’ve been planning to keep your records in order but don’t know where or how to start, continue reading as we explore the dos and don’ts of effective document and record management.
Document And Record Management Do’s
This crucial business exercise may sound easy, but it’s not. Consider the following points in formulating your organisation’s information management plan or restructuring.
1. Outsource As Necessary
Not all businesses have the capacity to manage their documents properly. For business start-ups with very few staff, seeking third-party providers may prove to be a wise decision. Companies like Armstrong Archives Records Storage and similar firms near you are more than willing to take charge of business data’s full or partial management. Discuss your objectives and cite the most important information you need to keep and access to develop an ideal system.
2. Create An Outline
If you don’t have enough resources to hire third parties, start by drafting file creation, organisation, and storage policies. Start by identifying your business objectives before exploring the whys, whats, and hows. Then, create the processes and resources you need to achieve such goals.
Think about how to collect, prepare, store, and use the records you intend to gather. For instance, which specific data and information do you need to determine operational success? How are you going to ensure that these are reflected in the documents? Creating a template can be helpful at this stage. Making one isn’t so different from outlining as if you’re making a report.
3. Prioritise Security
Besides ensuring that you have extra copies of critical business data, your organisation must invest in security to protect them alongside other technological tools for business success. Online fraudsters are getting more sophisticated and targeting even small businesses, particularly in the financial and healthcare sectors. A robust digital security strategy reduces the risk of security breaches.
Concerning physical documents, installing security and surveillance systems is necessary to prevent theft. So is temperature management to prevent damage. Outsourcing may be a better option if you can’t invest in these pieces of equipment.
While ensuring access is essential for all employees, it’s also necessary to retain control by limiting access rights to certain members. Doing so can reduce the risks of confidential business information falling into the wrong hands. Similarly, it’s necessary to implement a secure disposal system for documents to ensure the same.
4. Always Update Documents
Continually update the files to ensure that you’re getting accurate information. Like implementing individual or group security access levels, it’s helpful to identify specific team members who can edit, print, and share a particular document. For instance, staff may be allowed to create service reports, but team leaders must be the only ones who can amend and share them with other departments.
5. Don’t Forget To Make Back Ups
According to real estate investment firm Workspace, recovering lost data can be hefty, costing an average of GBP£71 per record and reaching up to GBP£1.9 million yearly. There’s no way a small business can cover such costs. It’s best to ensure that critical business information must be stored and backed up securely to minimise the risks of missing data.
Even if you have physical and electronic copies of your documents within your premises, there’s little you can do in natural calamities, security breaches, and other significant disruptions. In such incidents, having offsite data storage capacities can help affected companies recover faster.
Document And Record Management Don’ts
Each department understandably has different data needs. For instance, sales and marketing departments need to access customer data and information to provide personalised service and identify leads. The accounting unit needs a copy of all financial transactions, the rules on spending and investments, and supplier agreements, among other things.
Despite these differences, organisations must heed the following points to improve their record management practices.
1. Don’t Keep Unwanted Documents
While properly collecting and keeping business data is crucial, storing files longer than you should lead to added costs and reduced productivity. Physical documents can take up a lot of space, sometimes requiring small businesses to rent out another room to keep them. Digital records can also have the same effect, as they reduce storage capacity and make searching for documents cumbersome, irrelevant, or time-consuming.
Assign retention periods for both paper and electronic files to assist your document disposal methods. Some information management software has archiving features that companies can customise based on their needs. Study and analyse each file group and check the applicable government regulations. For instance, record-keeping and information processing exercises in the UK must adhere to the rules set by the Information Commissioner’s Office.
2. Don’t Install Multiple Data Management Platforms
Some business software is packed with multiple features, including document management storage. As much as possible, ask your team members to avoid using other information management systems that haven’t been approved for use by the company. They must keep everything in one place to prevent data loss.
In cases where you can’t prevent your staff from using file storage solutions, ensure that these platforms are secure and establish clear guidelines as to which applications to use and in which circumstances. Teach your staff to classify each file and have them place these documents accordingly.
3. Don’t Consider It A One-Time Exercise
Your organisation may evolve, expand, and change, pushing the need for amendments to your information management structure. To ensure that your system remains relevant and valuable to everyone, revisit your strategy, policies, and guidelines and revise as needed.
The Bottom Line
Data management is crucial in every entity’s operation. With it, companies can retain institutional memory and gather enough data to support their growth. The tips above can help businesses operate seamlessly, move forward, and comply with government rules. Furthermore, they help reduce the risks of security breaches, enabling organisations to thrive in the highly competitive business environment.
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