In this day and age, there’s no shortage of data—especially in the business world. While this information is undoubtedly useful, managing such large quantities of it can be close to impossible without a solid process. So, if your organization stores records, any information (paper or digital) that provides evidence, has historic value, or otherwise enables the company to conduct business, you could stand to benefit from a digital records management policy.
Records management is the governing of an organization’s important information, the information they consider to be worth ongoing maintenance, throughout its lifecycle. This could include personnel files, emails, financial statements, or even social media posts; what’s important to a company will vary based on a range of factors. Regardless, digitizing the process is crucial. When some records are digital and some are on paper, things can get confusing fast. Which version is the most up-to-date? Which file is the official record? Who initially created the record? Where even is the record?
With a digital records management policy, finding the answers to those questions is significantly easier. These policies provide guidance around the creation, maintenance, and security of records the company is keeping indefinitely, and proper protocols for the disposal of records that are no longer needed. By implementing these policies, critical documents are kept organized, secure, and up-to-date.
What To Include In Your Records Management Policy
Beyond the information all policies should include, such as the creation date, version number, names of approvers, and the expiration date, a records management policy should also include the following:
- Scope and applicability (What counts as a record?)
- Process for creating records (Who’s in charge of record creation? Who needs to approve records? What format should be used?)
- Access (Who is authorized to access, view, and edit records?)
- Retention schedule (How long is each type of record kept?)
- How to maintain records (Where are records stored? How are they organized? How frequently do you review them?)
- Destruction protocols (Who is in charge of destroying documents? How should they be destroyed? When should they be destroyed?)
Benefits Of Digital Records Management
One of the primary drivers of adopting a digital record management system is that it can save a large amount of money, especially as the number of records you have goes up. First off, paper files take up a lot of space, and space doesn’t come cheap. With digital storage, rooms used for nothing but filing cabinets can be turned back into usable office space, and offsite record storage can be a thing of the past.
When documents are stored offsite, retrieving them can be a huge ordeal. However, even when records are stored onsite, if you don’t have a system in place for organizing them, finding what you need will not be easy – and the more records you have to sift through, the harder it gets. To make matters worse, once you’ve finally found the right document, you’ll have to go through the process of refiling it as well. This is no small issue. McKinsey found that employees spend an average of 1.8 hours every day, 9.3 hours per week, searching for and gathering information. Time is money, and that amount of time, multiplied by the number of employees you have, is a whole lot of money down the drain.
Luckily, a digital records management policy will help alleviate that cost. Digital records management systems categorize and organize records, significantly reducing the time it takes to retrieve them; everything is exactly where it’s supposed to be, you can search for the documents you need, and there’s no refiling process. So, with a strong system in place, employees save time, businesses save money, and management can use those records to make decisions much faster.
Another major benefit of a digital records management system, one that can’t be overlooked, is that it makes maintaining regulatory compliance significantly easier. Enforcement of record compliance is growing more rigid by the day, and the repercussions for violating laws and regulations such as HIPAA, the HITECH Act, and FACTA can be severe. Noncompliance stemming from a broken records management system could result in unnecessary audits, subpoenas, lost productivity, sweeping penalties, and even legal action.
With a records management policy, the risk of these outcomes is significantly reduced. Noncompliance in this arena often looks like records being destroyed prematurely or kept longer than they were supposed to be, but with a policy outlining exactly when and how to get rid of records, this becomes a nonissue.
Protects Vital Information
We don’t always plan for the worst, but when it comes to something as important as an organization’s records, we should at least consider the possibilities. All it takes is one fire or flood to destroy a cabinet full of paper files, and if that happens, you can say goodbye to your patient’s medical records, your financial documents, and your client contracts. Worse? All it takes is one bad actor to steal your (or your clients’) confidential information when that information is stored in a physical location. A digital system partnered with a trusted IT solution, on the other hand, will keep your important data safe. Online, your records will be untouchable by natural disaster, and you’ll have complete control over who can access them.
Looking For A Better Records Management Solution?
There’s no doubting the importance of a digital records management system and its’ accompanying policies, but when it comes to implementing them, it can be difficult to know where to start. If you’re considering a better alternative to your current records management system, look no further than ComplianceBridge. Our software has everything you need to manage your records throughout their lifecycle – collaborative records creation, workflow staging, reminders to review and destroy records, and more. With layered security, you can control who has access and editing capabilities, and all of your records will be stored in a centralized library, which you can organize by client, organization, vendor type, or document type.
So, are you ready to streamline your records management, meet compliance requirements, and improve efficiency in your business? Request a demo of ComplianceBridge today!