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Business Document Archiving – What You Need To Know

Data formats, retention periods and suitable locations are all vital

23Jun

A business document archive is an essential part of compliance with rules and regulations that governing data retention. Although we live in the technology-driven world, many companies still have piles of paper documents that have to be securely stored and preserved, because it's not always practical or cost-effective to convert them to electronic format. At the same time, many businesses invest in converting their data archives to digital files that are easier to manage and they take up less space.

Companies that preserve paper documents increasingly rely on off-site storage to avoid using expensive office space for keeping old documents that may never need to be retrieved. Smaller companies have discovered that the proliferation of good self-storage deals makes self-storage facilities an ideal, cost-effective solution to their document storage needs.

A document archive requires an efficient system for filing and retrieving documents, should they ever be required, whether it's a paper version or a digital one. So what is the best way to make a start on this process?

Data Audit

Before creating an efficient document archiving system, you need to assess what you have and what you need to keep, and whether the original copies are required or digital formats are also acceptable under current regulations. There is little sense in using valuable storage space for documents that are not required in their original paper format or for documents you no longer need to retain.

Check The Legislation

There are laws and regulations governing what types of documentation are required to be held by the companies and for how long. Data, such as tax documentation, medical records, HR records and other types – the rules vary for all, so it's important to stay up to date with relevant legislation. You need to be aware of the time that certain documents must be kept for, and whether it's acceptable to store them online or not.

Storage Location

A choice of location for storing your vital business documents depends on a range of factors. Do you, for instance, retain confidential or sensitive information, such as personal client details or medical records? If you do, then it's of paramount importance that the storage location is secure. Do you have to keep the original paper documents that require a lot of space? If you do, you may want to consider an off-site storage as a more cost-effective solution. Some off-site storage locations can provide a better security than your own business premises, but don't forget about access to those documents, if this is something that might need to be done on a regular basis.

Although it's a personal choice of how to build and organize the business archives, make sure that your approach is based on logic and methodical fashion, and that you have all the information you need, in terms of retention periods, data formats, laws, and regulations.

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