To Ring in the New Year, Archive Your Old Files
When the calendar changed to “2015,” what did you do with all those papers, documents and old files marked “2014”? Smart businesses are boxing them up, archiving them and putting the ones they don’t need on hand into storage.
What do we mean by “archiving”?Where office documents are concerned, archiving is the practice of:
- Organizing files and papers in boxes (or in the case of data, on a backup storage medium)
- Labeling and dating the boxes, so you know what’s in them
- Maintaining a log of each box’s contents and location (These days, the labeling is done with barcodes and the logs are maintained and accessed online.)
Bye-bye, 2014? Not quite yet . . .Yes, every new year presents the opportunity to clear space in your workplace file cabinets, closets and storerooms. A reliable, insured off-site records storage and management facility can provide real peace of mind—not only for your files, but also for the security of any confidential and personal information you’re storing.
So what files stay and what files go?If you think about it, you’re probably going to want many of your 2014 papers near at hand for end-of-year closeout, sales continuity and other business needs. In that light, dealing with your 2014 papers becomes more a matter of organization and accessibility.
Organize files for your needs.Get your department heads or managers together to brainstorm and come to agreement on who needs what documents, where and when, for the day-to-day operation of your company. Then organize files according to functional needs, such as:
- HR/Employee files
Get active about records storage.By active storage, we mean files, documents, records, etc. that you would want to access quickly and easily, but not necessarily urgently. Put another way, any file you would need with one or two days’ notice is a candidate for active storage. (With a state-of-the-art records storage provider like Corodata, retrieving files is as simple as going online and making a few clicks. That sure beats hunting through file boxes!)
Think about 2013, too. And 2012, 2011, 2010…As we said, every new year brings the opportunity to move more files offsite and purge some files entirely. Let’s take a broad look at business records retention guidelines. You may be surprised at the vital documents you’ve been keeping onsite needlessly (not to mention the risk of lost files or a breach of sensitive data):
- Keep forever documents related to finance and investments, as well as tax returns and legal records.
- Keep for 7 years documents related to banking, payroll and sales, as well as sales records and supporting documents for tax returns.
- Keep for 3 years monthly financial statements, credit card statements, employment applications and expired insurance policies.
Make document retention a standard practice. You’ll make your business more productive.Assuming your archived files are clearly labeled and thoughtfully organized, a document retention plan will drive an effective, efficient annual process that will ensure:
- Your business isn’t wasting space and resources on unnecessary files
- Vital files and documents (like those described above) are always accounted for and accessible.
- Confidential and sensitive information is protected.