Document archiving in one form or another is necessary for all businesses. In this guide to document archiving we look into the many benefits in helping you manage and control your business documentation.
Document archiving is essential amongst businesses, organisations and even some sole traders. The reason for this is the fact it is just so useful in so many different ways and there is commonly a different document archiving solution for every company, because it’s not a case of one size fits all. If you’re considering archiving your documents, you’re likely to have many questions about it, ranging from how much it costs to how it works and how it might benefit you. In this guide we’re going to look at everything from the different ways document archiving is useful to different types of customer, to looking for the perfect document archiving company to work with. Hopefully with our help you’ll finish reading excited about starting your document archiving journey!
What Is Document Archiving?
Document archiving is a solution to the problem of holding your businesses paperwork in the company office or premises. Paperwork can take up so much space, which is a real issue when the amount of rental paid per square foot is so high in city centres and in key businesses areas. Smaller businesses are often affected by this problem the most as they have the least capacity to waste space, although no business can really afford to waste space these days. Paperwork inside offices also presents many other issues in terms of paperwork safety like data protection risks, and environmental damage risks. Document archiving provides solutions by taking the paperwork out of the office, storeroom or warehouse, putting it into a secure space where it can be accessed physically, and if the customer requires, digitally as well. So in essence, document archiving is where your paperwork is relocated to an offsite storage facility which passes all legal requirements to house sensitive data, and which also has the ability to scan your documents onto a digital document system, so from your office you can access the digital version of a document housed in the offsite storage facility. These facilities will often have the ability to destroy your documents efficiently if you require them to, providing a certificate of destruction to ensure a clear paper trail.
Why Use Document Archiving?:
There are many different reasons companies will use document archiving. Although every business is individual in their needs and goals with this type of storage-retrieval system, the following reasons tend to be the most common reasons a business, organisation or sole trader would use document archiving:
Some companies do try to manage their paperwork in-house but this can lead to all kinds of issues, and it also can be extremely time consuming. Companies might have to sort out a scanning system which someone will need to take the time to do, and that person would have to have the right access legally to the sensitive documents. The paperwork filing can be time consuming, and looking after sensitive documents on site can also take up a lot of time in many different ways, because confidential paperwork needs careful managing.
Document archiving prevents this problem happening because it literally takes the problem out of the businesses hands. No need for any member of staff to deal with sensitive data as you can find a company that is qualified to deal with confidential paperwork. Systems will be adapted for the business, but the convenience factor is always a key priority, so businesses do not have to worry about dealing with masses of paperwork storage, filing and, most importantly, retrieving easily when necessary. It is also extremely convenient to have a company scan and sort documents for you, so the future of accessing the paperwork becomes more convenient because there is no need to search for and retrieve any physical document, it will just be a few clicks away.
You might not think having paperwork on site is that time consuming, but the time spent walking to the file location, searching for it, taking it away to use it, then putting it back into the filing cabinet or locker certainly adds up. The problem becomes worse if items are incorrectly filed and time is wasted searching for documents. If you’re a streamlined business you won’t need to think long about this to recognise how making a few clicks to access a file is a much better option all round. You just outsource the document archiving and enjoy having all the paperwork safely taken care of, and enjoy the quick and easy way you access those documents.
Obviously outsourcing document archiving, storage or management is going to cost money, so it is important to have a clear understanding of how the outlay could still save you money in the long run. If you are implementing a strategy for legal reasons, it may be that the priority is the legalities over the long term resource savings, but you are still likely to benefit from some of the savings that can be made. All businesses are likely to benefit from being able to utilise the entirety of their space. Paying for external storage will likely be cheaper than your office rent costs. The extra space can be used for more staff, stock storage or even sales or retail room. You will also save money on the resources you would have had to previously use for your paperwork. Paying someone to digitise, recycle, destroy, organise or file paperwork will cost money. It also takes time to access the paperwork which does add up – all of that time could have been spent getting other more important jobs done. Another major element of cost saving could be the legal side of things, if you think about the cost of charges against you for breaking the DPA law with mishandling of paperwork.
Caring For Important Information
When paperwork is in your office is will be at risk from loss, human error, damage and environmental factors, not to mention theft. Eradicating the need to keep paper copies of documents is a fantastic way forward, removing all of these risks. So you can either store the original copies in document storage, or simply have them scanned and then destroyed once you have a digital copy (providing that complies with your local tax laws and other regulations). This ensures the paperwork is completely safe and you don’t need to worry about it being stolen, damaged or lost. As a business your legal and moral obligation to this paperwork means you must take the necessary precautions to keep it safe.
Avoiding Legal Issues
Sensitive documents need to be cared for in a certain way. It is important to ensure that you abide by the laws surrounding paperwork. It may be that you need to store them for a certain amount of time, in which case secure document storage is important. It may be that staff need access to them but only certain staff can see them and it doesn’t make sense to have the paperwork on site. In which case storage and digitising are great options. The most important thing to remember is if the legal side of things is not taken care of properly, you could face huge consequences that could damage your business at the very least. You might get fined for breaking data protection laws which brings a maximum fine of £500,000 which could be the end of your business depending on your size and insurance. Then there’s brand damage, customer trust damage – the consequences could be devastating, and that is without even considering the businesses or people that could be affected by their documents being leaked. Hiring a professional company to help you manage your paperwork is the best option to ensure you’re adhering to the correct laws and are completely set up and ready for an audit.
Enabling Your Company To Be More Streamlined
Having your documents available to you digitally means you are able to operate in a much more streamlined way. With paperwork at your fingertips you can easily send a document straight to someone else via email, which is great and means delays are avoiding in terms of the receipt of the document.
You can also quickly access all information which means working processes are quicker. Customers will get a response faster which will hugely benefit your business. You will also be able to build a better relationship with stakeholders, suppliers and potential clients.
Who Uses Document Archiving?
There’s no straight answer to this because everyone and anyone can benefit from the service. Whether it is a sole trader with tons of business paperwork taking up their home study, that needs to be stored somewhere else and accessed digitally, or a huge organisation with masses of paperwork taking up precious office space – everyone can benefit from a service like this in some way.
Content Management Systems
When we talk about a guide to document archiving it is also important to talk about content management systems, which is the digital side of the process. So where a company may just want to store their documents, a complete content management system involves storing the documents and scanning them into a system. From sole traders, to international organisations, all companies are working towards going paperless. This is because it saves space and enables organisations to be more streamlined. Developing a content management system is all part of going paperless and involves the use of a system like FileHold which is made specifically for the purpose of content management. The system involves various ways to take physical data and turn it into digital data, with additional encryption and security capabilities as well as to ensure the security of the scanned data. You should expect this from any content management system, and you will find the majority of these systems provide multiple benefits and uses. The priority is to make things easier for the users, which is why so many of these systems have multifunctional uses to ensure businesses gain as much as possible by using them.
Document archiving is becoming a huge priority in this digital age, and that is because many businesses actively want to go paperless. Going paperless is not right for every single business, but it is beneficial to many, and possible for all. Going paperless has many benefits including saving a lot of time. Saving time on filing, printing, manually searching, retrieving – a lot of man hours are used when paper is involved. Your business can also operate in a much more flexible way because you can move documents around at the click of a button. No need to think about the mail, logistics and geography. You also save space because there is no physical paperwork in the office and you benefit from better security for the paperwork, not to mention a lot of money annually on paper, ink and other associated paperwork costs. One of the main reasons businesses strive to be paperless is because of the environment – most businesses want to improve their eco credentials because customers care about it and it strengthens the brand. Processing many thousands of sheets of paper annually is certainly not environmentally friendly so going paperless is a big step towards making your business ‘green’. When businesses want to go paperless they must employ a strategy to do so. Usually this will involve getting rid of the physical documents out of the office, so they must be stored securely and scanned, then destroyed responsibly, or kept until they are legally able to be destroyed. Employees will need to know why they should be 100% on board with this new strategy, ensuring they follow a strict protocol set by your business. It isn’t something that can happen overnight, but it is something that can happen in time, and at a quicker speed if you employ the help of a professional document archiving business.
UK legislation relating to document storage, handling and destruction is vast and complex. The Public Records Act, Freedom of Information Act, Data Protection Act, Environmental Information Regulations, Historical Manuscripts Commissioned Warrant and various other laws and acts may have an influence over your company or business. It is extremely important to seek proper legal advice when you are considering what to do with your documentation. Realistically, various documents will need to be handled in different ways. Some can just be recycled in the normal manner, others will need officially destroying with a document to prove that has happened. The main priority for your business should be seeking correct legal advice on what to do with different types of paperwork, and ensuring there is a paper trail when you do decide to move documents around, destroy them, store them, or get them digitised. That way any auditor can see a direct audit trail proving your adherence to the relevant acts and laws.
How To Choose The Best Document Service For Your Business
After reading our guide to document archiving, we hope you see how useful it could be for your company. Many businesses could benefit hugely by taking their paperwork offsite. Money can be saved, resources can be saved and space can be utilised. If you are considering investing in document archiving then it’s a good idea to think about the kind of service that would benefit your business. Consider the following:
Can You Handle Some Of It In-House?
It may be that you are already happy with a system you have in house, but you need help with certain aspects of your paper management. Perhaps you only need help with document destruction, in which case a professional company can destroy the paperwork for you efficiently and securely, providing you with the documents to prove it after it has been done. Don’t be afraid to seek out individual services, a good company will only ever recommend services to you, they won’t push them on you.
Do You Need Complete Expert Advice?
It may be that you actually need everything doing for you because you don’t have the expertise or time to handle it yourself. In this instance you’re going to want a fantastic document management company to work with you to get everything right – so make sure you choose the right company for you, because they will hold a lot of responsibility.
What Is Causing You The Most Problems?
Think about why you’re considering a service like this. Are you having issues with paperwork taking over the office? Do you struggle with the time it takes to get information to customers? Think about the key problems you’re having. You don’t have to have solutions but it will help to be upfront with the document management company about current issues so they can recommend appropriate solutions.
When you approach a document management company, don’t worry if you have no clue on what the next step is – that is their job and they take great pride in recommending tailor made solutions to customers. The most difficult thing you will have to do is ensure you choose a company that fits with what you want and need. When you’re shopping around for the best document management company make sure you:
- Take your time – these people will be responsible for ensuring you get the best service for your money, get an easy time converting to paperless or semi-paperless, and ensuring you are legally coherent with current laws, it makes sense to take your time looking for the right company. Search for companies that suit your needs, look at their credentials, check out what customers are saying about them on social media – get a feel for the way they work. If you like what you see, don’t be afraid to make an initial enquiry, with no obligation to move forward and do business.
- Ask for references – it can sometimes help to get references from the company you are looking to work with, to prove they have worked with companies similar to yours and achieved what you want them to achieve with your business. They should be proud of their clients and have no issue sharing that information with you.
- Ensure they are qualified to do the job right – if a company is helping you with sensitive paperwork you must ensure they are qualified to do so. It is so important to ensure they are not only making sure your paperwork is protected from others, but to ensure they are qualified to do this. They will be stopping your paperwork getting into the wrong hands, but what do they have to prove they are qualified to do this?
- Look for good customer service – if you’re going to be relying on a company to provide you with important services like document management, you need to feel comfortable that they have your best interests at heart. They should be polite, helpful and suggest various options for you. If you ever feel like you cannot trust a company, particularly when it comes to something as important as this – move on and consult other businesses instead.
- Look for a solution that suits you – keep your priorities in mind, as well as your budget. It is important to ensure you get a content management system in place that works well for your business. A company may have friendly staff, and some great suggestions, but they just might not be able to offer you something that feels right. Don’t be afraid to turn an option down in favour of something else that you feel could work better for you.
Let Document Archiving Revolutionise The Way Your Business Works
We hope you’ve found some interesting and useful points in this guide to document archiving which will help you recognise how useful document archiving could be for your business or organisation. Many businesses can benefit from going fully or partially paperless, and every business can benefit from an efficient document management system. If you are planning on looking into document archiving, document destruction or any of the services relating to document management, remember to take your time, look around and do your research – this is an important business step forward and it is important to take that step with the right company.