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May 23, 2011 / Frank J. Albi

Managing Records in Every Form

As your business records take on more forms — and get stored in more ways — the idea of “records control” is evolving to something more complex than it used to be.

Controlling your business records means standardizing how you name those files and scheduling them for proper disposal. What? You thought because digital records weren’t filling up your office storerooms, you should just keep them forever? Nope.

Whether records exist on paper stored in boxes or in virtual folders in the cloud, your business is responsible for managing them according to relevant regulations. All of the best practices pertaining to compliance and risk and liability apply to records regardless of storage medium — digital, paper, or film.

Here’s what I tell my customers: For quick and easy retrieval, electronic records need standard names. Just like biologists use a taxonomy to identify different species, businesses need a taxonomy to identify and deal with their records. A records taxonomy will answer these questions:

  • What is the standard name for each type of record?
  • Who is responsible for the record?
  • Where is the record stored?
  • When can the record be destroyed?
  • How should the record be destroyed (e.g., recycling, shredding, etc.)?

Of course, most companies don’t have a taxonomy for their records, either because they don’t know how valuable it is or they don’t know where to start. In this digital age, taxonomies are more important than ever. Think about it: Human beings may realize that A/P and Accounts Payable mean the same thing when reading a paper record. Computers don’t.

If the prospect of creating naming conventions and disposal schedules seems daunting, get help from experts with records control know-how. For example, our BISplan™ software helps you name files and schedule them for timely disposal. If you have questions about BISplan or my thoughts on records control, please get in touch. I’d love to help.

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