An effective records management strategy is contingent on knowing what manner of storage or disposal is best suited to each document that comes through your doors. However, with so many different documents to take into consideration, the task of records management can often be overwhelming, if not downright confusing.
The truth of the matter is that most effective policies can be distilled into three core guidelines: store, scan, or destroy. Today, we’ll examine the situations in which each can best be used, and how you can determine which policy applies to your materials.
When is Storage Appropriate?
There are two main questions you should ask when determining whether an item requires long term storage.
- Does this need to be retained for legal or operational reasons for a year or more?
- Is this document used infrequently?
If the answer to both questions is yes, then you should consider professional document storage. Your documents will be stored off-site, freeing up space in your office, and will be protected by 24/7 security and storage spaces specially designed to minimize the risk of damage from temperature or humidity. This is especially useful for items such as photographs or x-rays, which may be more sensitive to environmental changes and more easily damaged.
When is Scanning Necessary?
The short answer to this question is that if you or your employees need access to a document on a regular basis, it should be scanned.
The chief benefit of scanning is accessibility. After a document is scanned into a digital format, it becomes accessible anytime, anywhere, to however many employees require it. Of course, you’ll still be able to set appropriate security precautions, such as password protection, to control access to the information contained in the document. This can free up enormous amounts of space in your office, as everything from leaflets to books and maps can be scanned, and will drastically reduce the amount of time spent on the retrieval of an item.
Another bonus to document scanning comes from the ease in the creation of a backup copy. Too many small businesses have found themselves adrift after an accident destroyed the information they relied on for daily operations. A single hard drive can contain the equivalent of millions of pages of information, making it easy (and space-efficient) to create one or two backup copies.
When is Document Destruction Needed?
When documents have reached the end of their useful life, or need to be discarded in accordance with legal guidelines, it’s time to call upon a document destruction service.
Document destruction, as the name suggests, is the practice of thoroughly destroying an item to ensure that the information it contained is rendered irretrievable. This is commonly performed on paper documents, but destruction can be extended to include digital storage, such as hard drives or other e-media. It is highly recommended for any personally identifiable information (PII), such as a name or address, and may be required by law if the information is used in a specific industry, such as finance or healthcare.
The destruction of documents and other paper records is straightforward. A professional service will gather the items that need to be destroyed and cross-cut them into tiny pieces, similar to confetti. As an extra precaution, and in the interest of responsible stewardship, the pieces will then be securely delivered to a recycling facility, where any remaining traces of ink or other markings will be cleaned away and the fibers can be repurposed into new items.
Allstate IM: Complete Data Management
Records management can certainly be performed on an in-house basis, but many companies find monetary and time savings by outsourcing their management to a professional service provider. Allstate Information Management has been protecting information since 1989 and has both the experience and the equipment required for secure storage, scanning, and document destruction.
If you would like more information on any of our services, or if you’d like to request a personalized service quote, please call our office at 1-800-225-1080 or send us a message online.