Records Management Tips for Small Businesses
Managing records and documents effectively is just as important for SMEs.
If you are a small business owner, you might feel that you are too small for a Records Management Programme or that it is too time consuming or expensive to setup. The truth is even small businesses can benefit from good records management and it does not have to take every waking minute to setup nor cost the earth.
As important, as RM is to large companies it is even more important for small companies. The reason being, larger companies, due to their size and the spread of their records and information, can generally weather a disaster better than their smaller counterparts can. Put in different terms, a large meteor will create a bigger crater proportionally on the moon than on the earth.
Since small businesses operate out of smaller offices, warehouses, and even home offices, their records, and data are more compacted a disasters, whatever their type, tend to hit them harder, to the point where they may be forced to close.
Getting Records Management basics in
Effectively managing your records is a process. The sooner you get one implemented the better but it does not have to happen overnight. So the way to tackle your records is first to know what they are.
Identify Important Records
The first step is to determine which records are the most important. Some records are subject to legislation, while others are not. Some come in the form of templates and are used daily or only occasionally. Then there are those records that are created through communications such as emails and sms.
The important thing is to assess what is most important and what is the least important so you can prioritize your backups, access control, storage location, and legal compliances.
Handling Paper and Electronic records
Your records can be split into paper and electronic formats. Knowing which records are in which format will help you to determine how they are backed up and handled.
Electronic Records – If your business only has a few staff and accompanying computers, and most of your files are electronic, then making a weekly backup of all your files onto a portable hard drive and taking it home with you is the bare minimum you can do.
A safer option might be to use a Cloud Storage option for these files or an offsite data storage company. While you will need to consider costs you also need to consider backup security and the time it will take to restore your backup.
Paper Records – Paper records are more time consuming to handle depending on their volume. If you want to have backups then you need to either photocopy each document or scan them. While both are time consuming, the latter option can backup records without requiring additional storage space.
If you have taken the time to analyse your records you will also have an idea of which ones get used the most often and which are almost never used but are important due to legal retention periods. Records that need to be kept but are not used often will probably be better-stored offsite, and if their volumes are low, they are unlikely to cost too much but you will gain peace of mind.
Key Records Management points to remember
- Create logical filing systems, both paper and electronic. The more organised you are the easier it is to manage your records and get them backed up.
- Consider offsite storage for some of your paper and electronic records. You can save money on storage and stationary costs, while improving security and disaster recovery.
- Work out processes and procedures for handling your documents. These need not be complicated but are effective at creating a consistent method for handling records, which leads to better organisation.
- Educate yourself on Records Management and the need for it as well as changing technology. This will help you be better prepared for when things go wrong.
Speak to a Iron Mountain representative today to learn more about how we can help your small business.
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