Filing like a pro: 7 Tips for archiving
No matter what industry you are in, every company across the globe generates and maintains an extensive amount of documents. Every document, digital or paper, goes through its lifecycle: creation, maintenance, usage, storage, retrieval and disposal.
Archiving documents, however complex it might be, is essential in ensuring that you remain compliant and have evidence such as receipts and pay slips when necessary.
With your business growing so do your records - at a cumulative rate
Majority of large and some mid-sized companies take advantage of storage solutions provided offsite, outsourcing the entire filing process. In case your documents are not to leave your premises, onsite digital scanning comes in handy. While a lot of businesses are moving to paperless solutions, there are some things that still require paper use as a necessity. Read below about how to archive in compliance with the GDPR.
How to prepare for archiving records?
In general, we would place emphasis on stretching the workload over a reasonable time, so you don't feel overwhelmed and the end result is not chaotic. Equally important is to have all necessities at hand, not being forced to stop in the middle of the process to refill your supplies.
Let's review some good practice recommendations for managing the filing process from 'document intensive' businesses such as law, accountancy and finance:
Get rid of the unnecessary files first
Archiving your paper documents is faster and easier when you start with a document audit. Once documents are few years old, they often no longer need to be stored. Check the dates and scrap those files that have exceeded legal retention requirements.
OUR TIP: Manage audits of documents and shredding of the unnecessary ones continuously throughout the year. When archiving documents, label them with a destruction date when they will no longer be needed.
Even though not required by law, you may want to keep some documents. In such case, it is best to digitize these to free up storage space and secure unlimited access. Documents can be scanned and stored on hard drives or on the cloud with password protection, accessed anytime – which might come handy, especially when working from home office.
The current trend is to deal with archiving electronically. It is the fastest and more ecological way to retrieve documents. Digitizing your active files eliminates time consuming searches through rooms, cabinets and boxes, saves costs and the environment.
Remove hanging and plastic folders, binders, etc. (except staples and paper clips) from the archive storage box. Archive boxes should contain paper and manila folders only to ease the processing and protect the files from damaging.
Boxes as the base
Before you begin, make sure that your boxes are durable. Low quality boxes often surrender to heavy files and documents, not lasting long enough.
OUR TIP: Go green with recyclable boxes. Cardboards are the most cost-effective type of containers, however they can be damaged faster than non-paper based materials. To help sustain a low carbon footprint, be sure to use boxes with a minimal environmental impact.
Overfilling of boxes is the main enemy of archiving.
Keep it simple
To avoid confusion, affix a label to the front of your box/file using clear shipping tape or label maker. To be a proper file master, create a records database with each file and each box having an unique number (preferably a barcode).
OUR TIP: Create a label template and instructions. Make sure they are easy to understand and acceptable to others. If colleagues are confused with your system, they are more likely to follow their own rules. This might lead to employees putting documents away however they see fit.
Location, location, location
You may not need your records often, but when you do, their retrieval should be prompt and efficient. Manage the record of your archived box numbers, destruction dates, and the content of each box.
OUR TIP: Store documents with related content together and cut down the retrieval time in the future.
Encouraging for clean desk policy
Documents are used everyday, inviting chaos. Filing documents at the end of each day is a base of any clean desk policy. Employees should learn to use filing continuously by creating accessible active file folders. This promotes clean desk policy meanwhile keeping all at hand.
Archive at a glance
Archiving accounting records and documents was never meant to be fun and engaging. It's a necessary process that is probably more important than most employees think. Each business handles different types of documentation, but if common sense, clear process rules and some tips above are applied, archiving can be managed without hardships and struggles.
Have an easy archiving and discover the options of archiving supplies.
Archiving and GDPR
Sensitive or personal data are defined by us as documents containing information that could easily identity specific people. Such information is considered, for example, a name, address, photo, image, email address or even general information that could contribute toward identifying a data subject.
These are the rules for handling documents with sensitive or personal data:
- Make sure you have collected and processed the data fairly and lawfully. Data subjects must have been told about the collection of their personal data and given their consent to it. Respect people’s right to unsubscribe at any time.
- Retain only the data you need. Keep personal data accurate and up to date. Safely dispose of data you no longer need.
- Keep data safe. Access to documents should be limited to people allowed to view them. Any handling of documents should be monitored in case of a leak of data or information. Information should only be shared with people you trust and you have a proper written agreement with them. Have a plan in place for any potential data leakage.
- Laws covering the retention of information and data are constantly evolving and changing. You should be prepared for any new amendments and wording of the GDPR and adapt the handling and management of documents with sensitive or personal data to them.
- Remember: GDPR covers both printed and electronic data.
3 questions about archiving and GDPR
You should protect paper documents from both leakage of sensitive information and mechanical damage. Keep them in a place protected from moisture, fire and dust.
Documents with sensitive or personal data should not be kept for longer than the law requires. When the specified retention period expires, dispose completely of both the original documents and any copies or duplicates of them. You should also delete documents with personal data when no consent has been received from data subjects to their storage.
Disposal means the complete destruction of documents with sensitive data so they can no longer be read, reassembled, reproduced or recognized. Shredders are the best way for you to dispose of them. In addition to technical parameters, they are classified by security level. Read more about shredders at our website.