Why and where should I keep my documents?
- A formal records retention policy is critical to every business. This policy should apply to all storage mediums, including paper, electronic files, voice mail, and e-mails. Keep in mind that business documents can have legal, tax, and industry standards requirements. Your policy should be based on your business type and needs.
- Once a retention policy is established, the next consideration is storage of these documents. Paper filing versus electronic filing creates a great debate. Due to legal and industry requirements, not all documents can be transformed to electronic images. There will always be the need for some documents in paper form. Electronic filing has many advantages over paper filing systems. The largest advantage is the space savings, as well as the ability for multiple people to share the same files and images. Further, these documents cannot be manipulated or altered.
- Whatever methods your company chooses, the most important is that you have a system in place. This system must enable anyone to find what they need, when they need it. There are affordable software programs available that allow you to find either files (paper or electronic) in seconds. The value of these programs highly outweighs the program and implementation costs. But the best advice is to develop your record retention policy, then implement it. Most companies will find that using the combination of paper and electronic files will give them the best process for document storage.
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