Effective, productive & profitable businesses will all have robust record management systems in place.
Document management best practise will allow your staff access documents immediately, will mean your documents are safe & secure. Documents will only be deleted when their retention period has finished, not before or after keeping your organisation compliant.
This article is designed to help promote record management best practise, particularly within the SME sector where such knowledge may not be prevalent but applies to organisations of all shapes, sizes & sectors.
Write a Document & Records Management Policy
Write a document management & records management policy. It should state who has responsibility for document management, and how documents should be managed during their retention period or life cycle.
Create a Document & Records Management Champion. It doesn’t have to be their sole responsibility but the richer an organisation is with information, the more work this will entail. This responsibility will help foster positive document & records culture allowing information to move effectively & responsibly within your organisation.
Write & Implement an Access Control Policy
Who should be able to see an invoice? Probably not your receptionist. Perhaps your sales team. Whilst it goes without saying your Accounts Team should see invoices but you may also wish your Customer Service Team to see them too so they can deal with invoicing queries quickly.
Your policy should be designed to not only restrict access to documents but should also be designed to promote a positive customer experience.
Create an Index
This is an obvious rule but one that more often than not is ignored. You should create an Information Register, otherwise known as an index!
How this is done will be dependent on numerous variables but would include:
- a reference number
- document type
- author (name or position)
Make sure you control document revisions so you know which is the latest. also specify a retention period. A well designed index allows you to maintain & monitor your documents efficiently.
Create a Retention Schedule
A file should be destroyed or deleted when you are no longer legally obliged to keep it. With regards to personal information, the Data Protection Act states you should only keep personal information for as long as it is necessary to do so.
You should be proactive in destroying information that is no longer of use to an organisation. Some organisations do like to retain information for much longer than is necessary to retain a record of your corporate history.
Manage, Maintain & Review
You should always look to review how you hold information, how it moves through your organisation, & who is able to access it.
Never be complacent.
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