Analog Or Digital: Designing A Storage Strategy For Your Small Business

How does your small business deal with storage issues? Is your office a cluttered mess? Are much-needed offices packed with boxes? If so, it’s time to start rethinking your storage strategy. By employing a combination of analog and digital storage solutions, you can cut through the clutter and reclaim your space.

Create A Schedule
One common reason that small businesses have an overload of old records is that they haven’t streamlined their retention policy, so instead they just keep everything. And, to be fair, the guidelines for what documents businesses need to keep and for how long are complicated. That’s why your small business need a protocol for this process.

To get started, pull out the guidelines and do an office purge, shredding or recycling anything you no longer need. It’s a good time to clear out any other junk that’s accumulated, but focus on the records. When you’re done, take those guidelines and break them down into a process-focused record management schedule so that you can dispose of records on a quarterly cycle, as appropriate.

Rent More Room
Even if you toss all the extra documents, you’re still going to have a lot of paper files on hand, particularly tax records and related documentation that you’re required to keep in case your company is audited. That doesn’t mean you have to keep all those records onsite. Take all of those materials and rent an offsite storage unit. Self-storage is ideal for business records because the units are climate controlled and secure. Just pack it all up and get it out of your office.

Develop A Digitizing Strategy
While papers tend to pile up no matter what you do, today’s businesses are also seeing a lot more of their important files born digital. Whenever possible, stop printing out those documents. Let the documents remain digital, where they won’t take up floorspace and are easy to access and search.

As for those files that have already been printed out, it’s time to start thinking about digitization. Many small businesses struggle with this process because it’s time consuming, expensive, and can require a lot of digital storage space. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it, just that your company needs a plan for how to digitize its records. Some companies do best digitizing documents as they come in, some will make it a core task for an intern or consultant over a short period, and others will make it an intermittent project.

Build A Backup Plan
However it is that you choose to store your records, you need to make sure that you have a backup plan in case something happens to them. This might mean putting paper files in storage but also saving them as digital images in the event of destruction or degradation. Digital systems should have backup on a separate server in case the primary system crashes or is compromised. Working with a strong team of IT professionals can help you protect those digital systems.

Don’t let clutter overrun your small business’s office and stifle your productivity. Put those records in order and put them away so that you can get back to the work that drives you.

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