Record-Keeping is not always easy. In the electronic world we live in, keeping up with documents should be easy right? It’s all there on the computer, we just have to find it!! Electronic documents can have compatibility issues sometimes and are not always there when you want them to be. God forbid you lose your laptop, or your hard drive dies in the middle of something!
Paper still has a place in the business world and it should not be demonized, it should be controlled. Archiving information the same way throughout your office is definitely a challenge. There needs to be a clear plan and one that is not too complicated. Some companies just keep everything and never destroy anything, but that never works because it opens doors to alitigation nightmare. Retention schedules are different for lots of reasons. Tax returns have a certain schedule and personal information you keep around for your customers has another – and even more than that is adolescent records.
IF you are one of those that just can’t stand the thoughts of destroying anything, here are some suggestions. Imaging or scanning your hard copy as you go and filing them electronically on a dedicated server is one real secure way to make your documents safe. One of the reasons for this is partly for convenience because you may want to work from home, and if you have an electronic copy, you can retrieve it easily. But don’t make the mistake of scanning the paper document and immediately shredding it! The paper should be kept long enough, usually at least thirty days or more, to be sure the scans are readable and searchable.
But how do you keep up with all those documents efficiently? I suggest an Electronic Document Managment System – an EDMS can and will keep all your documents in order and safe! So WHAT IS A DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT SOLUTION?
Simply put, a document management solution is a system that can replace not only the paper files and documents in an office, but enable the user to send an electronic document through the same steps a paper document or file would follow. For instance, if a financial services firm has a new account form that is filled out for each client account and it must proceed from the agent to the trader and then to accounting, then a document management system must provide the same path. So a true management system not only provides storage, but must provide the same workflow capabilities. Along the way it must also protect documents so that only the necessary people can view them. An example, might be a medical clinic which must comply with HIPAA regulations. Patient records must be kept confidential and an audit trail kept for all record access. An EDMS is a step up from the point solutions like spreadsheets and word processors as the entire office must be capable of using them. Therefore they must be easy and straightforward to use and ideally would integrate with other software the office is already using with a minimum of effort.
So to sum up the attributes of a document management solution:
- Maintain a repository of electronic documents.
- Provide a mechanism of securing the documents.
- Integrate with other software solutions being used.
- Provide a method for putting the documents into a defined workflow.
- Supply audit data providing the four W’s (Who, What, Where, When).
- Capture form data in a database for usage in monitoring and managing the business.
- Comply with any necessary regulatory requirements.
So do yourself a favor and check out our system and I think you will be well pleased!!