Risk management, compliance and governance are key drivers of record management within an organization—but they aren’t the only factors that should be considered when developing policies for your company. Consideration should also be given to the cost of identifying, classifying and protecting the entirety of information integral to your operations within your dynamic business environment. The stronger the systems and processes for managing your records, the more efficiently and cost-effectively your organization will be able operate as a whole.
Legal statutes, privacy laws and regulatory requirements affect records retention guidelines on multiple levels:
- access guidelines
- storage obligations
- final disposition dates
Disparate parts and insufficient solutions
As a result of these requirements, it’s not uncommon for businesses to apply general records management rules that are either non-viable or simply impractical. In-house records management processes are often counterproductive and can create more risk than might have existed previously. For example, many companies will choose to store all information assets internally. Expired documents may be stored for years without being destroyed. Vital business records, including those essential to business continuity, are stored on-site indefinitely. Both situations increase the risk of privacy violations and run counter to disaster recovery best practices.
An inability to track specific records at any point in time is also endemic to businesses large and small. Open-ended retrieval and unmonitored filing practices lead to documents being misplaced, not only disrupting workflow processes, but also potentially having a negative impact on customer experience and resulting in unfavourable audit outcomes. With a limited number of administrative staff assigned to multiple responsibilities, attempts to follow proper procedures for document lifecycle management are bound to fail.
Companies that incorporate records management policies with well-defined storage, retrieval, privacy protection and disposal procedures experience higher rates of compliance and good governance. Confidential information is properly safeguarded from unauthorized access, can easily and quickly be found when needed, and is consistently destroyed in a timely and thorough manner. This reduces non-compliance and privacy breaches and enhances overall productivity.
Clear retention timeframes should be established and documented as soon as information is created. Your records retention policy should define next steps once a document has moved from active to inactive status. Once a document reaches archival status, a professional document storage vendor can securely move your files off-site, alleviating any potential on-site storage problems. Your documents can then be tracked for the duration of the retention lifecycle.
Organization and destruction of records
The burden of organizing, indexing and retrieving records is also alleviated as a professional records management company also uses barcode technology to track and manage your records over time.
Your records management policy should also incorporate a secure and efficient method for destroying records. Organizing a one-time purge of any expired records will eliminate identity and information theft risks originating from those records, while simultaneously freeing up office space. Daily, ongoing disposal of records should also be handled with a scheduled shredding solution that offers easy and secure ways to discard paperwork using locked containers placed throughout your offices.
Protecting electronic records
Records that are currently stored in an electronic format, whether on disk or magnetic media, also need to be properly managed and protected. A backup policy should also be supplemented with a records and information management solution that provides transfer and storage of electronic data off-site and away from your primary place of business and ensures:
- long-term preservation of data
- media rotation services
- data recovery support
Docu-Dépôt provides integrated records and information management solutions to businesses throughout Montréal and Québec. To find out more, please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.
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