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Establishing an effective records management program helps generate savings and supports more efficient operations. Regularly cycling files through three key storage stages will keep your program on track. Start by dividing your records into:
Stage 1: Active - Currently in use
Stage 2: Semi-Active-Active - Needed for reference or legally required to be retained
Stage 3: Destruction - Outlived its usefulness and ready to be destroyed
Step 1: Inventory your records. Know what records you have, where they're located and in what quantity. HINT: If a large volume of old records is intimidating you, break up the project into smaller parts. Inventory those records that accumulate most rapidly first and do the rest later.
Step 2: Schedule retention periods. Different types of companies require different policies. Even for companies that deal with files on a case-by-case basis (e.g., law firms, physicians), a calendar should be established to note when files should be transferred.
Step 3: Store records conveniently. Efficient storage is the key to a cost-cutting records storage program. First, choose your storage method. Storage boxes and drawers are an efficient way to set up and organize paper documents. They're easy to label, easy to stack and they help conserve storage space. Next, create a Records Storage Index and Destruction Control Card for each records storage container. This labeling approach allows you to keep track of the documents inside, when they're scheduled for disposal and also serves as a handy certificate of their destruction.
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