While modern technology has made our lives easier, there is still a considerable amount of information stored in paper files. Despite the growing shift towards digital storage, businesses still rely on physical paper for recordkeeping, filing tax returns, and other obligations.
No doubt, properly storing and archiving your files is vital for confidentiality, compliance with regulations, and it can save you time and money when you need to access important documents.
In this blog post, we’ll be discussing best practices for archiving paper files, and the importance of archive management.
Sort and Purge
The first step in proper archiving is to declutter your files. Do away with irrelevant or expired files, so you can free up valuable physical space. Document storage and archives should only include documents that are necessary for legal, contractual, auditing, and regulatory compliance, or that have ongoing business value, like patents, contracts, and employee records.
Create an Archiving Plan
With a filing system in place, it’s essential to establish an archiving plan that addresses how documents are filed, when files move to long-term storage, who has access, and how they could be destroyed. The archives plan should be part of your records management framework that includes document retention, destruction, and procedures for storing inactive files.
Proper Labeling and Indexing
It’s easy to forget where specific papers are stored or even which box they are in. Proper identification and indexing are key elements for effective document retrieval. Tagging files with a clear system, and then indexing them into a searchable database can make it easier to find and access necessary information when you need it.
Store Your Archives Safely
Papers can be easily susceptible to physical damage from moisture, temperature, fire, or other environmental elements. Ensure that your archives are stored in an off-site location where the climate, temperature, and humidity can be regulated, and are well-protected through physical and digital security measures, like surveillance cameras and access controls.
Manage Your Archives
Archive management is a critical aspect of effective document retention and record-keeping. It’s useful to have a designated individual, or department, to be responsible for monitoring and managing the archive storage systems, ensuring the accuracy and completeness of the documents, and applying any legal or regulatory guidelines.
As the saying goes, ‘time and tide wait for no man’. Business owners, executives, and information privacy officers should devote significant attention to the archiving of paper files. It not only ensures better organization and faster information retrieval but also attains compliance with regulations. Having a solid archive management system means that businesses can transition to more digital forms of storage with relative ease, and not worry about manual decluttering or lost paperwork.
Follow these best practices, and you can create a robust, efficient, and organized archive system that will help you stay on top of your physical records and focus your resources on business growth.
Need help archiving your documents? Western Archives can help!