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Document Management Best Practices You Should Be Implementing

person trapped in office full of documents

As most of us can attest, first impressions are important – and this goes beyond that first date you’ve been anxiously awaiting! Yes, you may have experienced this in the past; anticipating how that first date with our crush will go and whether there will be an exciting spark that leaves us grinning from ear to ear.

Just like a highly anticipated first date, the impression you receive upon entering a new place of business could determine whether a potential customer decides to hire your company or purchase from you over a competitor.

What Can You Do to Make a Good Impression?

To start, take the initiative to ensure your office appears organized and clutter-free. If someone is coming to your office for the first time and they are greeted with overflowing garbage cans, desks that are covered in junk and piles of paper, this could deter them off relatively quick as it implies that looking after your office isn’t a priority, which of course can translate to questions about whether they’d treat a customer the same way.

An unkept office can result in immediate red flags to visitors coming to your office for the first time. A poorly kept office space can also communicate to potential customers that you don’t take information security very seriously; especially if it is clearly visible files aren’t being stored properly. Today, every organization regardless of its size, has a legal responsibility to manage the information it handles in a confidential and organized manner. A detailed document management program ensures information remains safe from the risk of a catastrophe or disaster, and it also reduces the risk of a data breach, improving the efficiency of day-to-day operations.

If your business isn’t currently doing so, consider putting these best practices into place for effective document management:

Use an Indexing System

A reliable document management program has an effective index system based on the nature of documents and compliance requirements surrounding them. Basically, an indexing system manages file creation (limiting the generation of records that aren’t necessary) and records retention (when records no longer require storage and can be shred professionally). The program should track filing and note where documents are in their life cycle; for example, whether they are active, archived, or ready to be disposed of.

Turn to Secure Document Storage

Secure storage is crucial regardless of whether you are maintaining paper documents, hard drives, audio or video. Any form of kept information that is considered confidential in nature means it should be protected. This should be done using locked filing cabinets, desks, or a locked storage room. Companies may want to go beyond that and have their records stored safely off-site, at a reliable document storage facility. Regardless of format (paper documents, electronic files, audio or video), sensitive information should be securely stored and protected either in locked cabinets or a locked room to ensure unauthorized personnel don’t obtain access. Many experts suggest transferring paper documents into electronic files for ease-of-storage.

Keep Access to Data Restricted

The information management system should verify that all confidential information kept on file is protected and/or locked up with very little accessibility. Access should only be granted to those in an authoritative position who can be trusted with such a responsibility, and generally restricted to one or two employees. To achieve this level of security, the system needs to feature tools like password protection and other authentication requirements for accessing or viewing information.

Take Advantage of Regular Document Shredding

For your benefit, all files should ideally be labeled with the content they cover, the duration for which they should be stored, and the date on which they should be shred. When documents are no longer needed, they must be securely destroyed. Always choose to work with a shredding company that provides scheduled document shredding, including a strict chain of custody from the moment content is placed into locked collection bins, through until the shredding process. This company should also present you with a Certificate of Destruction after each shred job for your records.

Provide Ongoing Employee Training

Employee training is not only helpful for your organization; it’s worthwhile for your employees as well. When all staff are updated on industry legislation, new security processes and more, everybody wins because the team is cohesive and on the same page, which directly impacts how everyday business is executed. Training often means a reduction in error and increased levels of productivity. It’s also necessary when you are introducing new policies to the team. Without sufficient document management training, your new program could be a waste of time.

Always educate your staff so they are well familiarized with what’s involved in your new policy and watch as you establish a culture of security within the office at the same time.

Proper security measures are a necessity for every business owner to stay compliant and protected from fraud. The good news? Implementing the above can be really simple with the right resources and professional services.

At Document Destruction of Virginia, we will work with you to develop an effective document management plan that includes regular document shredding services.

Call 1-877-338-3320 to learn more about our convenient and effective solutions.

Let us tailor a program that will accommodate your shredding needs.