Making the decision to archive documents or store them electronically can have a huge impact on a business and its legal standing if those records are ever needed in the future. To avoid problems down the road, there must be policies created that will analyze what can be archived and what can be permanently deleted. When it comes to this conundrum, there are five basic tips you can follow.
Get Organized- The first step is to get all your existing files sorted into appropriate folders and categories. Common categories are sales, billing, HR, and invoices, but you can use whatever categories that make sense for your business. When creating these categories, make sure to leave room to grow as more and more files are created.
Assemble the Team- It’s a good idea to give a few people the authority to make decisions about document storage and charge them with maintaining a well-sorted document storage system. This team will likely include members from HR, IT, and various administrative roles.
Check for Compliance- One of the biggest issues to consider will be legal compliance. State, federal, and industry laws will likely play a role in deciding when a document can be deleted. Check will all three parties to see what needs to be kept and how long you need to keep it. There can be steep penalties if these rules aren’t followed, so do your homework.
Pay Attention to Medical Records- Don’t forget that employee medical documents have some of the most intense restrictions when it comes to archiving. Under FMLA, medical data gathered for purposes of administering the law must be maintained as confidential medical records in separate files or records from the usual personnel files.
Not All Receipts are the Same- Deposits, bank statements, canceled checks, records of sales, and expense reports need to be treated differently than supporting documentation for taxes and insurance purposes.