Today, businesses have more records to store than ever before. Whether you have an established small company, a larger corporation with an abundance of employee and client files, or a newly launched business, you’ll have to make decisions about where to store your records. There are many factors that go into making this decision, including digital versus paper storage as well as regulations outlined in record retention laws.
Know Your Business/Industry Guidelines
With some industries, particularly ones involving financial transactions or medical services, there are specific guidelines that will determine where you store your records. Medical practices, for instance, are required to have electronic patient records. In this case, most records would need to be stored within secure databases that can safely hold sensitive data.
Weigh Digital vs. Paper Options
Digitally stored records are easy to retrieve, they can be quickly separated by date and document type, and many electronic document management systems include cloud storage capabilities. Remote storage is appealing because it allows for secure backup in the event of data issues. Digital storage can also come in handy if you have a massive amount of older documents you need to keep because of retention laws.
Paper record storage tends to get a bad rap these days. But it’s not always deserved. In some situations, complicated documents or ones that include detailed diagrams, drawings, and charts are easier to read in print form. There may also be times when it makes sense to have hard copies of documents on file. Also, storing sensitive information electronically does present some risks. However, these concerns can be eased by using software with reliable security features.
Consider the Purpose of Records
Confidentiality and security are particularly important factors that will determine where your records are stored. In some instances, the purpose and nature of a document will dictate where it’s stored. For example, some contracts and agreements include provisions that require a paper copy to be kept on file. There are also instances where “wet” signatures are required instead of electronic ones, necessitating the need to have a paper document on file.
Find the Right Mix for Your Business
Both digital and hard copies have their place in the business world. In reality, it doesn’t have to be one or the other when it comes to where you store your documents. It’s entirely possible to choose to store most of your records digitally while keeping a small number of physical documents on hand. However, there is no magic formula. Whether you store everything digitally or decide what’s appropriate on a per document basis will depend on the nature of your business and the specific records you need to keep.
When you consider record retention laws and other factors, you may decide you need some help managing information that has to be stored in a way that’s conveniently accessible. Companies like Information Requirements Clearinghouse offer a wide range of record storage solutions designed to match the specific retention preferences and requirements of both larger and smaller businesses.