Regular archiving is important both at work at home and, in general, can help to keep life running more smoothly. For businesses, though, it’s even more vital and is connected to important issues around compliance, too.
But what does archive mean? It’s the process of securely storing information that you no longer regularly use or have a need to regularly refer to. Document archiving can be completed regarding both physical and digital information.
We explore below how proper archiving practices can benefit your business and some tips and tricks for the most effective way to archive possible.
Archiving Physical Documents
However sustainable your practices may be, it’s likely that your business still generates a lot of paper. While some of these documents can be shredded or recycled, some are important to keep hold of. These could be hard copies of signed contracts, invoices, receipts, and accountancy recruitment paperwork. There will also be some documentation – such as credit card sales receipts – that your business may be required to keep for a set number of years to ensure compliance.
The location in which these documents are achieved needs to be secure, and a system should be in place to allow staff members to quickly find and retrieve archived paperwork if it’s required in the future.
Most businesses choose to either archive in-house or to instruct a specialist archiving company to take care of this side of things for them. The latter is especially useful for larger companies that generate a lot of documentation and is a valuable way of saving both time and storage. Most archiving companies will scan paperwork before it’s archived, meaning that you’ll be able to locate it quickly if you need it again.
Archiving Digital Files
In business, in-boxes and devices’ folders can quickly get full – eventually, this could cause a slow-down, as well as make it difficult to find documents and navigate your way around contents. This is why regularly archiving your digital files is just as important as archiving your physical paperwork.
Inboxes are one of the main offenders when it comes to getting completely clogged up. When choosing an email platform for your business, choose one that allows you to quickly and easily click on an email to archive it. These emails will typically be sent to a dedicated archive folder on the desktop, which can be accessed and searched with ease – meaning that if you need to refer to a stored email, you should be able to find it within seconds.
As well as making for a clean, uncluttered inbox that’s easier to manage, regularly archiving your emails means you’re never at risk of losing important information and helps to ensure compliance with data storage laws.
Archiving Other Digital Files
To sort out and archive other digital files, the best idea is to make a clear plan for how documents will be archived and ensure that this method is followed by all employees for consistency and easy retrieval of information.
Decide which digital archiving folders you will create and where files will be stored: you could arrange your archived document in relation to date, name, or project – think about the system that will work for your unique business and its processes. Use subcategories within each folder to further organize your archived files.
If there are confidential files that require archiving, be particularly careful with these: set file sharing settings so that only authorized personnel can gain access to these digital documents. Setting passwords for these files or folders is recommended, as is changing the settings to prevent downloading.
Tips and Tricks for Effective Archiving
And for even smoother archiving and retrieval processes, try the following:
Make a System for Version Control
Put in place a clear system of file naming so that everyone knows which version of a file is the most recent. This could incorporate the date that the changes were made for extra clarity.
Don’t Forget Images
Image files, especially, can be large and subsequently take up a lot of space on your hard drive. Get in the habit of archiving these files at the same time as you’re archiving your other digital documents. You could use the same system that you use for your other archiving or create a new one specifically to manage the storage of your image folders – go with whichever suits your business best.
Use a Cloud-Based Solution
Archiving to the Cloud is a good idea as it solves the problem of storage and allows you and employees to access the data saved there from the office or remotely. The storage is secure, and the space is virtually unlimited.
Keep the System Going
The task isn’t over once you’ve completed the initial archiving project. Set an archiving schedule and delegate a staff member to carry out the archiving work in the future so that you can be sure it’ll be done regularly.
Proper archiving – both of your physical and digital documents – can be of great benefit to your business. As well as helping you stay compliant, it will also create more organized, uncluttered, virtual, and real workspaces for a smoother, flowing business day.