While many companies associate a digital archiving system with an increase in costs, it can save you money overall.
If you’re paying for rent by the square foot, you need to make the most of your office space. Document archiving will ensure that you get the most from your space and keep your most important documents in a safe and secure site away from your office.
Here are 6 steps to proper document archiving for your business.
1. Run an Audit
While you might think your first step is to take all of your documents and start boxing them up, you could end up storing things you don’t need. We all have a pile of papers waiting to be tossed out. You should make sure you separate what you need to keep, what can be scanned, and what should be thrown away.
You’re going to risk wasting valuable and expensive storage space by just boxing everything up. There are so many files and forms that could be redundant or unnecessary. Take a ruthless attitude and treat nothing as sacred.
When you decide what to discard, keep in mind the minimum retention rates for things like tax forms.
Keep in mind your carbon footprint as well. Make an effort to recycle everything from phone books to light bills. If you’re working with a document storage company, they’re going to offer secure destruction and shredding services for you. Double check that they recycle everything they get and leave it in their hands.
2. Digitize Some Documents
If you’re not legally bound to keep a document, you don’t necessarily have to keep the paper form around. Unless it’s something you feel sentimental value for, it can take up less storage space sitting on a hard drive. Back it up twice and you’ll have it whenever you need it in an emergencywithout keeping it onsite in a box.
If you don’t have a good scanner, ask if the storage provider you’re using has one. Many copy machines have high-quality scanning capacity built in, so if you have extra time to hang out around your office you might have access and not know it.
An electronic document management system allows your documents to be scanned and stored on the cloud. Whether you use Google Drive or your own home server, you can have your documents accessible wherever you are in the world. Install some security permissions and password protection and you should be able to keep any nefarious actors out of your personal or professional business.
3. Finding the Right Boxes
When it’s time to start boxing things up, you need to choose the highest quality boxes available. They should be durable enough to handle lots of heavy files and last for years to come. Cheap corrugated cardboard shipping boxes meant for single use won’t suffice.
A few drops of water and they’ll start to fall apart.
You should also clearly label your files and your boxes. This will allow you to get quick and easy access to what you need when you need it. Have a hybrid file system with a digital database connected to your physical storage so you know a file is in box A17 and can find things easily.
A records database will keep everything much more accessible than just throwing it in boxes labeled 1-100 with no digital database to correspond.
Streamline the process for finding files later and you’ll thank yourself.
4. Choose the Right Location
When you’re looking for storage, you need to keep your files in a location that’s easy to get to. Not only should it be physically close, but it should be a place where you can get ahold of them quickly.
If your small business has an extra room, an onsite storage room will probably be good enough. You’ll see that as the years go by and that your business grows, you’ll need more room. It takes space to put in climate control and maintain a facility for your records and might need that space for your business soon.
An off-site solution is one of the best ideas you can have if you think you’ll outgrow your space soon. You’re better off starting your business with an off-site storage space rather than having to move and implement a new strategy later. Start that strategy now rather than having to change things up when your business is up and running.
6. Organization is Key
You need to keep the documents that are alike together. Only you know what kinds of documents you have and what you need to store, but there are some basic rules to follow.
You should have a few categories of documents to hold on to. There can be tax returns, invoices, employee data, and customer data in separate categories. You should then organize each one of these by date.
When you do this, you’re able to get access to your files quickly without fumbling aimlessly through boxes. You can look up what index the files you’re looking for likely are in and then retrieve them from your facility
Keep retention rates marked in your records as well. This can help to remind you when you can have your files destroyed so that you can keep rotating them. The best thing you can do to protect your data is to get rid of anything you really don’t need anymore.
Document Archiving Is Good For Business.
No matter what industry you’re in, document archiving is a concern about space, staffing, and budgeting. Since all of these elements work hand in hand to contribute to your profit margin, you need to take document archiving seriously.