4 Signs of Poor Records Management and How to Fix Them

old documents after scanning

A records management system is an essential part of a business’s day-to-day work and centers around making sure companies are able to maximize their work efficiency by ensuring all their records are easily accessible, filed appropriately, returned to the right place, and backed up regularly.

Learn more in this video about what makes organized records management important, including details like the various direct and indirect impacts of poor records management as well as some of the most common problems with records management programs and how to solve them.

Video Transcription

What Makes Organized Records Management Important

Poor records management leads to problems with a ripple effect and can be very serious when you need your records for things like taxes, budget, or payroll.

While symptoms may go unnoticed at first, bad records management leads to a range of consequences and if not nipped in the bud early, it can potentially leave an impact as large as causing a company to close its doors.

Therefore, it is essential that you know the warning signs to look for.

Water Droplet

The Consequences of Poor Records Management

  • Lower Productivity

When information isn’t organized and well managed, valuable time is wasted in trying to both track down needed documents as well as refile them.

While it might only be a few minutes here and there, the time and money (time=money) wasted will add up.

  • Financial Risks

Without a well organized records management plan, important financial records are at greater risk of being lost and slipping through the cracks which in turn can lead to problems managing taxes, budgets, and payrolls.

  • Legal Issues

In the event of any legal actions or audits disorganized records management can make it difficult to produce records in a timely fashion. When it comes to legal record retention times, the chances of missing required destruction dates are far greater.

  • Data Loss

When records management systems don’t include a plan for backing up data in case of disasters like data breaches and fires, recent data from FEMA found that 40%-6-% of unprepared businesses will never reopen following catastrophes. And of the businesses that can keep their doors open, 90% will be closed within a year if they can’t be up and running again in 5 days.

Alarm ClockSign 1: Are You Unable to Track Records Down Quickly?

When evaluating your current records management system, the first question to ask yourself is how long it takes to track your documents down.

If the answer is that it takes a long time, then it probably means you’re wasting money on the time spent by employees trying to hunt down and refile records. Besides just impacting your own bottom line, if you’re ever audited or face legal action being unable to produce information in a timely manner can leave you in hot water.

How to Make Records Easier to Find

A key component to in-house records storage and management’s alternatives—off site storage for paper and DMS or cloud storage systems for digital records—is their ability to simplify finding, tracking, and using records.

Off Site Records Storage

When file boxes are stored at an off-site facility, they’re barcode labeled so they can be tracked by providers and retrieved upon request. The actual work of keeping files organized and readily available is taken care of by providers, in turn letting you and your employees use your time more efficiently.

DMS and Cloud Storage

Similar to an off site storage facility, as soon as digital files are added to a DMS or cloud storage system, they’re immediately indexed and organized so that they can be quickly tracked down. Many systems have a variety of ways to  help find files as name searches an filter tools to sort files by things like name, date created, and file format.

FilesSign 2: Do You Have Multiple Copies of the Same File?

A common issue especially with paper records management, having multiple copies of the same file often leads to rippling—and unknowing—consequences.

When multiple copies of the same record are being circulated, there’s a good chance edits from at least one of the different versions will be lost, meaning that when tax season comes around and you start reviewing financial documents for example you might not actually be seeing the correct information.

How to Consolidate Multiple File Copies

Since having multiple copies of the same file tends to be an issue that primarily affects hard-copy records management, one of the best solutions to the problem of edits being lost or accidentally overwritten is to scan the paper records and create a new digital version of the original file.

With a digital file, it doesn’t require printing out a new copy of a document to make changes—instead, all updates are applied to the original digital file just like with any .doc, .pdf, or other file format where there’s always the ability to save edits to the existing file as you go.

Shredded PaperSign 3: Are You Tracking Retention & Destruction?

Many types of files ranging from personnel records to patient charts have legally-required retention and destruction periods that are laid our by laws like HIPAA and FACTA.

Retention and destruction requirements set specific guidelines for how long to keep different types of records and when they need to be destroyed and are important not only for helping to regularly clear out the clutter from old records, but also because failing to comply with them can result in hefty fines or even jail time.

How to Stay on Top of Record Retention & Destruction

Rather than trying to store and self-manage retention, when methods like off site records storage for hard-copies and DMS or cloud storage software for digital files are used, retention tracking comes as part of the package:

Paper Records Retention Tracking

When records are stored at an off-site facility, you simply designate which boxes need to be tracked and for how long. The boxes are then barcode labeled with retention times and other unique identifiers by providers so they can be tracked all the way through the records’ required lifespans.

Digital Records Retention Tracking

With document management system software or cloud storage retention tracking can also be configured. An automated system can be set up to run daily and delete all records with expired retention times.

Backup TapesSign 4: Do You Have a Backup Plan for Records?

It’s good to always have a positive attitude and hope for the best, but it’s also important that you plan for the worst with your records management plan.

More specifically, there’s a range of potential risks to consider with records management stretching from physical hazards like fires and theft to crashed hard drives and other electronics. As a result, it’s important your plan includes steps to prepare for when a disaster inevitably strikes by regularly backing up data.

How to Ensure You Always Have a Just-In-Case Copy

All records management plans should include a system for regularly backing up data as fallback, and not matter whether you primarily use off-site record storage, client-server DMS systems, or cloud storage to manage your records, when it comes to backing up data any well-put-together records management will include a combination of all three.

The “backup rule of 3” is a recommended strategy where, as the name implies, data is backed up to three separate locations so that even in the extremely improbably event of two disasters happening simultaneously, there will be a 3rd copy safely stored. Backup methods include:

  • Cloud Storage Backups
  • Client-Server Backups
  • Off Site Storage Backups

How Efficient Is Your Records Management Program?

Join General Mills, Allstate Insurance, and the countless other businesses and organizations we’ve helped to develop and improve their records management programs when you visit us at Record Nations today. Get free quotes for your records management options by filling out the form to your right, giving us a call at (866) 385-3706, or contacting us directly using our live chat.

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