For any business, their files are the most important assets that they possess. Don’t think so? Take a look at the file storage setup of big companies such as Microsoft and IBM and more. It will also be surprising to know that a large area of their storage is dedicated to their inactive files. Now, confusion usually arises because many businesses don’t understand just how important their inactive files are.
Just because you don’t need it anymore does not lessen its importance or its role in the company. Proper storage of these files should be one of the most paramount goals for you. The most common method to do this is by moving these files to an off-site storage facility. However, this needs to be done in a safe, secure manner since these documents are still important and valuable.
Additionally, any file that no longer needs to be maintained on your site on a day to day basis can be considered to be an inactive file. However, this file still needs to be properly retained for a number of reasons, including legal compliance, administrative needs and for retention policies. Additionally, losing these files because of improper storage practices can be a devastating blow for a business. Therefore, you have to pay attention to the process of properly managing and storing them.
If you’re interested, the following is a small checklist that you should follow to properly maintain and look after your inactive files:
Do an Audit
Before you begin to ship your documents to the off-site storage facility, make sure that you take the time to properly identify which ones to keep and which ones to store. This can be a lengthy process, so make sure that you’re dedicating plenty of time to this step. You don’t want to mark the wrong document as inactive and put it away.
The process of the audit will also help you get a realistic idea of which files are no longer needed. Additionally, this is a great time to correct any mistakes in the labelling, filing or duplication. This is also the right way to apply classification codes on the files, which can make it easier to store and retrieve the files as needed.
Make a Copy
When you’re auditing the documents, it is also a good idea to make a copy of the most important files. You can make use of document scanning solutions or document imaging services, which can give you a soft copy storage option. This also means that files will be more readily accessible, should you ever need to review the file properly.
Digitizing your inactive file storage also gives you a feasible, tangible backup plan, should there ever be an issue in off-site storage options. While off-site storage services can be very safe, there is no knowing when a natural disaster could affect the storage facility and ruin the inactive records stored there.
Delegate the Task
Once you have your soft copies and your inactive files identified, you need to delegate the task of the storage to someone else. It’s a good time to create a team who is held responsible for looking after the inactive records. This is necessary because they can then take on the responsibility of finding the right Professional document scanning solutions.
They can then look after the physical records and also implement measures which restrict access to the soft copies. You can establish this as part of their responsibilities and also ensure that they keep an eye on anyone accessing the files. This extra measure can help prevent theft of documents and more. Additionally, you might want to consider having a dedicated team for the storage of your inactive records. However, this measure should only be considered when you have a lot of files to store and look after.
Follow the Organizational Filing Plan
Whether you are filing your inactive records in soft copy or hard copy in an off-site storage facility, make sure that you are following the organizational codes and more for your filing plan. This ensures a certain area of continuity and ensures that you can find the right file with ease. While some businesses don’t follow a certain filing plan, this is recommended nowadays for increased security as well.
For example: Suppose your organizational filing plan means that you have files stored in this sequence – A1, B1, C1, D1 and E1. The active files will then be used as A2, B2, C2, D2 and E2. This makes it easier to find the right files and ensure continuity, and if any file is missing, you will find out about it immediately. This gives you a great security net, and you are also able to ensure that storage is done in an organized manner.
Always Close at the End of the Year
Make sure that you’re always closing your active files at the end of each year. This gives you a clean record, a proper sequential order and ensures that you move your inactive files properly after each year. Most files can stay unused for months on end, which means that they need to be marked as inactive and stored properly. This step can also cut down on the clutter that a business generates.
Have an annual audit to check your existing files, mark them to be stored and also take the time to check on the files in storage. Doing so ensures that you’re aware of the storage conditions, the files and more. Again, much like the first audit you performed earlier, you can also check for mistakes, remove files which are useless or more. Additionally, take the time to see if you’re exceeding your storage options, need to junk any files or just improve your security and storage methods.
In this manner, you can ensure that all inactive records in your files are properly kept. Additionally, you should never downplay the importance of your files which are inactive. You never know when you might need them, so instead of just abandoning them completely, you should have a proper backup of your files available.