Within my experience working together with entrepreneurs there appear to be two main camps of men and women: those that save absolutely everything forever and those that couldn’t show you yesterday’s receipts if their lives depended on it. Clearly, neither of those is a successful way of keeping records within your company, just what exactly would you really need to hang onto and what should you get rid of in an endeavor to de-clutter and get organized? Firstly, you absolutely must keep the fundamentals available because you’re required by law to possess them.
The basic principles include most of your business documents including the articles of incorporation, by laws, and any permits you’re required to possess, your financial and tax information, any business agreements such as contracts with suppliers or customers or employment agreements with your staff, and legal documents such as board meeting minutes and records of any decision making and other things to prove you’ve met legal or regulatory requirements that apply to you. For anything else that you’re not legally required to keep available, it could possibly get a little trickier to decide what ought to be saved and what ought to be tossed but there are certainly a few times when you definitely need to keep the files. If you’re involved with any litigation of any type, keep anything that could be relevant until that litigation is concluded. If your company still utilizes the information, obviously keep it around until it’s no further useful. If you can find regulatory actions underway that can affect your company or the thing you need to possess around, stay on the safe side and keep it.
After you’ve put a system in place for checking your records, make sure you’re also doing what’s necessary to keep those records safe. If you’re holding records that fall under specific categories and need extra care, like medical records, which must follow HIPAA standards, as an example, obviously ensure that you adhere to those regulations. For anything else, you must still be sure that your records are properly secure from things such as flood and fire and from theft or simply wandering eyes. If the records are especially important and are in hard-copy form, it’s probably advisable to create e-copies of everything and ensure that everything is copied so that you will never really lose those records should something happen at your office that wipes out the physical documents and destroys your computer. By carefully crafting a file control strategy, you will be in a much better position with your company in terms of both legal compliance and organization and efficiency.
The sooner you implement such a strategy, the better off you is going to be, so don’t wait to have organized or you may find yourself in hot water. A lot of the information with this video came from a write-up by Dave Clarke over at the Intuit blog and you are able to grab the hyperlink below the video if you want it. Now I wish to hear from you. What’s one’s body for organizing the documents that you might want to keep and getting rid of the rest? Are you currently super organized or is the record-keeping in pretty bad shape?