Read the news, peruse the paper, review blogs and you will usually find the word compliance within minutes. You know it is more than the latest buzzword, though. It’s a serious subject with severe penalties for businesses not following regulations.
With that in mind, there are 5 things you should remember when retaining documents for compliance:
1. The old adage, “When in doubt, leave it out,” doesn’t apply. If you’re not positive you won’t need a document in the future, keep it until you do your research on how long you are legally required to keep it.
2. Retaining documents doesn’t mean drowning in a sea of paperwork. A paperless office is still possible! Using a document management system that’s electronic and easily accessible dramatically decreases your need to keep hard copies and increases your ability to find documents when you need them.
3. When it comes to compliance, security is essential. Housing documents in your office or storage area puts your company at risk. Are the files locked away? Are they in fireproof cabinets? Will a fire sprinkler system ruin them? Are you keeping track of who is looking at the files? Look for a solution that monitors who has access to your information and keeps an audit trail on activities that surround that document, including who has viewed or altered it.
4. Storage and safety of documents is only half the battle; the other half is accessibility. Can you get the information you need immediately? Using an document storage applicationsolves accessibility and timeliness challenges; you retrieve what you need anytime, anywhere, as long as you have access to the Internet. In the case of a company audit, rather than providing boxes of files, you may decide to give the auditor a temporary login to access only the information requested, and nothing more. You certainly do not want an auditor finding a file that you should have purged years ago.
5. Do not keep documents longer than necessary. When the expiration date arrives, purge them if there is no pending litigation. You can set timers to notify you when the document’s retention period has been met, freeing up storage space and minimizing the risk of litigation. Remember, if an auditor or legal firm discovers a document, it can be used in the legal proceedings, potentially causing further compliance or legal issues.
When retaining documents for compliance, it’s as simple as having a secure system with fast and easy searching capabilities, and automatic disposal of files. The right application will save you time and money, and will leave you feeling secure that your business is meeting all regulatory requirements.