How to take control of your records

Are you tired of searching through drawers and filing cabinets to find the right document? Do you know which of your files must be kept and which should be destroyed? Have you examined both your active and retired IT assets and developed a plan to keep the data they contain secure? Now is the time to take control of both your physical and digital records. This means increasing efficiency and preparing your business to adapt to whatever the future may bring. Here we discuss how you can take control of your records in nine steps.

1. Take inventory of physical records

Start by taking a close look at your current paper documents. This includes not only existing documents, but also a review of how new documents are created and either stored or disposed of. Some document types must be kept for specific periods of time for legal and business purposes. However, it is likely you will find many of the documents tucked away in filing cabinets and store rooms can actually be securely disposed of. Sort and mark those physical records that can be destroyed. Decide if the remaining documents should be stored, digitized or both.

2. Clean out paper with a one-time service

Once you know the physical documents which can be disposed of, get started with a one-time service often called a purge. A professional shredding service provider, will come to your location to collect the paper. Depending on your needs, they can shred paper on-site with a mobile shred truck or securely transport it to a facility for shredding. This is a fast and easy way to clean out your unneeded physical documents.

3. Schedule on-going services

A one-time purge is a great start. However, if your office is still creating, using, and disposing of paper records, setting up an on going service will make sure paper does not build up moving forward. Regular shredding services take place on an agreed to schedule that can range from multiple services a week to a single service every quarter. The shredding company will provide collection containers which you and your employees will fill. When the time comes for service, a service representative will collect the containers and take the paper for secure shredding.

4. Take inventory of digital and IT assets

Before you move on it is important to assess your digital environment. Whether you use cloud services to host digital files or have other backups on hard drives or LTO tapes, it is just as important to consider how these assets are going to be saved, stored, and disposed of moving forward. Also, take note of IT assets that are still in circulation such as smartphones, tablets, computers and more. What is your company’s plan for managing these items once they have been retired from use?

5. Consider document scanning

After the previous step you should have a grasp of your IT and digital assets. Now is the time to explore if document scanning is right for your business. There are several benefits to digitizing documents, especially if you have built an IT infrastructure to hold and manage your digital records. On the other hand, document scanning can be expensive. You will need to determine if it is a worthwhile investment for your organization.

6. Use a professional storage service

For physical documents and IT assets that must be kept, a professional storage service is a secure, convenient, and affordable option. By storing with a certified provider, you can still have access to items at any time by sending a delivery request. However, you will not need to waste office or storage space. A professional service will also meet certain security and safety standards such as fire protection, pest protection, limited access, and if necessary climate control. Such a company will also help you index your items for easy location and retrieval.

7. Destroy old IT assets

Old computers, smart devices, LTO tapes, hard drives and more contain information which should be protected. When the time comes for them to be retired, they should be securely destroyed. This service may be referred to as hard drive destruction, IT asset disposition, or media destruction. Regardless of the name, find a professional destruction company that will physically destroy the items to guarantee the data they contain is rendered unreadable. If possible, find a company that also works to recycle the left over materials.

8. Train your staff

Once you have a plan for how your business will manage records, both physical and digital, it is essential that you train your staff on the policies and procedures you are setting in place. Schedule regular training meetings and keep a record of attendance. This will help to demonstrate that everyone in your business is aware of how to handle both physical and digital documents.

9. Keep documentation

As documents are created, stored, destroyed or scanned and IT assets are utilized and retired, it is important to keep clear records. This is especially true regarding any type of destruction. When you use a professional service provider, they will supply a certificate of destruction for every service. Documentation will be critical if you ever need to look back at what has been destroyed or demonstrate regular destruction activities.

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