One of the easiest places for office operations to become slow and bogged down is in records retrieval. Confusing systems of organization, complex chains of command, and mislabeled or missing files can bring an otherwise energetic workday to a full stop. The first step to establish a system that can work quickly and efficiently lies in tackling the challenges of information management.
For many workplaces, this means addressing the challenge of records or media storage, especially when it comes to customer or client records. These must be kept on file and carefully maintained, but where best to keep them? How should they be protected? How can they be made easily accessible?
Don’t worry – with a little careful thought and dedicated, detailed protocol for records storage, you can create a secure, straightforward method for maintaining and retrieving your documents, allowing your company to function at its full potential.
Challenges of Storing Information
The sheer volume of documents to catalog and maintain can be overwhelming, especially if they include information covering a period of several years or more. Information officers must make decisions that affect not only the safety and security of data, but also influence the day-to-day operations of the company. For example, how best to store the records that must be maintained without taking up necessary workspaces? What system of retrieval would be quick and efficient, yet secure?
Designate a Place for Records Storage
The amount and type of documents to be preserved will determine a large portion of where they must be stored. There will be different requirements to safely preserve electronic media compared to paper documents or x-rays. If information can be scanned and transferred to a digital storage method, this can help reduce the physical requirements for storage. Online storage also has the benefit of providing immediate access whenever necessary, which can greatly reduce the time that must be spent on retrieval.
If the records must remain as they are, assess how much space will be needed to store them in a neat and accessible manner. Documents containing sensitive information, such as personal details or financial records, will need to be kept in an area that can be secured and monitored.
Establish Who Has Access
A strict chain of custody will help maintain the confidentiality and security of the records. Make sure you have a way to keep track not only of whoever accesses the records, but also those individuals with access to the room or facility in which they are kept. You will also need to make sure a system is in place to record when each file is accessed, and who by.
Similarly, you should determine who will be permitted to request access to the files. Some offices have a single records manager, through which all requests must be processed. If the files are of a less sensitive nature, or if there are only a few which require special viewing permission, an online system may be implemented where each employee’s unique logon information automatically designates which files can be accessed.
Determine a System for Retrieval
There must be a system of organization in place to make retrieval simple and intuitive. Will documents be physically retrieved, or will they be scanned and sent electronically? Minimally, the location of each file should be recorded in relation to its place in storage. This will allow them to be easily found when required. There should also be left the flexibility for records to grow and change with the company. If, for example, the file for a new client is added to storage, it should be intuitive where it needs to be placed and the addition should not disrupt or drastically change the designated retrieval information for other files.
Short on Resources? Get an Expert
Information storage can be challenging to lay out, especially if you’re trying to create a system from scratch without adequate storage space, security measures, or retrieval resources. In this case, the services of a professional, experienced records storage facility could be terrifically economical in terms of both time and money.
At NRC, our corporate document storage and archiving system is secure and carefully controlled while providing you with simple, easy retrieval of your documents, whenever you need them. Our clients can access their real-time inventory records 24/7. When you need a document, just place a request. Our team will locate it, retrieve it, and deliver it securely to you. If time is of the essence, our scan-on-demand service allows specific documents to be scanned and accessed digitally.
No matter the size or format of your records, our team will work with you to determine an ideal method of storage and retrieval, allowing you and your company to focus on your work.
Call us toll free at (877) 672-6584 or contact us online to learn more.