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Records Management for SMEs – Records Management Basics

Records Management can be a Complex Process. Start with the Basics and make it simpler.

Records Management Basics for SMEs should be something that adds value rather than being burdensome. Yes, Records Management is not a quick simple process. However, it is an essential process that is as valuable as you can get the basics in and progress from there.

 

Getting Started with Records Management Basics

As an SME, you are often faced with the challenges of limited staff and budget constraints. Records Management will take a certain amount of time and some budget. That said, you can get started with just the basics and then work your way up.

As the saying goes, ‘the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time’, the same goes for Records Management.

 

1. Identify Your Records

The very first thing you will need to do is define and identify your Records.

As mentioned in our previous article, Records are a particular kind of document contain information that serves as evidence of business transactions, legal statuses etc.

Thus, you will need to look at your documents and separate out those documents that constitute Records. Obvious Records include:

  • Invoices
  • Contracts
  • Employments Forms
  • Company Registration Papers

There are however, Records that may be specific to certain industries with their own legal requirements. To be safe you will probably need to consult with your Records Management Partner or Attorneys to clarify the status of some of your documents.

Once you have identified your Records you will need to create a basic classification for them that covers the type of Record they are and provides a description.

 

2. Record Life-Cycles

The next Records Management basics step you will need to take is to evaluate the life-cycle of your Records.

Each Record will circulate and be used in a specific manner. Some Records may be created by you, while others may be collected. Different Records can have different Retention Periods too, meaning some records you may have to hold onto longer than others.

The more you know about each Record and how it is used within your business the easier it will be to manage it.

 

3. Record Storage & Archiving

A vital part of Records Management basics is the storage and archiving of your Records. Records cannot and should not be treated the same as general documents and simply filed as normal.

Due to the value and importance of Records, the storage and archiving requirements should be stricter. Important points to think about are:

  • Who can access Records?
  • How secure is your Records Storage?
  • Is your storage area dry and free from pests?
  • How often do you need to access each Record?
  • How safe are your Records in-house as opposed to Offsite?
  • Does your Disaster Recovery Programme cover your Records adequately?

4. Disaster Recovery & Your Records

Disasters happen all the time and when you least expect them. The best way to prevent disasters is to be prepared for them.

Your Records must be factored into your Disaster Recovery Programme. Do you have offsite backups of digital Records? Do you have scanned versions of all your paper Records? Where are your backups and scans located and how easy is it to access them should you need to?

By answering these questions you will be in a better position to preserve your Records.

 

Read our next article: “Records Management for SMEs – The Cost of Poor Records Management”

Read the previous article: Records Management for SMEs – What is Records Management

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